October 17, 2020

Twitter has reversed its decision to block users from sharing an unsubstantiated article from the New York Post about former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter, The New York Times reports.

The company had previously stopped users from being able to post the story about alleged emails between a Ukrainian energy executive and Hunter Biden, citing its policy against sharing private information and against distributing "content obtained without authorization." But after facing backlash especially among Republicans including President Trump, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Friday that blocking links to the story "was wrong," and the company altered its policies so that it "will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them," per BuzzFeed News.

When Twitter announced changes to its policy on hacked materials on Thursday, the Hunter Biden article was still being blocked because Twitter said it violated its policies against sharing personal information, as The Washington Post reported. But as of Friday, users can now share the article again, with the Times reporting the company made this decision "because the information had spread across the internet and could no longer be considered private."

When Twitter previously changed its hacked materials policy in response to the criticism, The Washington Post had already dubbed this a "stunning policy reversal." Brendan Morrow

October 13, 2020

Facebook has announced its second notable policy change in as many days.

The company said on Tuesday that it will be banning advertisements "discouraging people from getting vaccinated." Facebook previously had a policy of banning ads with vaccine hoaxes.

"Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we'll reject it," Facebook said. "Enforcement will begin over the next few days."

The step from Facebook comes amid concern among experts over whether a large enough percentage of the population will get an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has said the United States would be unlikely to achieve herd immunity if around a third of Americans refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine.

Facebook said, however, that "ads that advocate for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines — including a COVID-19 vaccine — are still allowed." The New York Times also notes that the move "will not remove user-generated content."

This, the Times' Mike Isaac wrote, was "another significant policy reversal," following Facebook's announcement on Monday that it would be banning Holocaust denial, despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 2018 defense of allowing posts that deny the Holocaust to remain online. In announcing this decision, Zuckerberg said his "thinking has evolved" on the issue. Brendan Morrow

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