The New York Post claimed that leaked emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop showed that the then-vice president was helping his son’s business dealings in Ukraine.
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook limiting a story about Joe Biden’s son during the 2020 election was based on FBI warnings of misinformation.
Facebook and Twitter limited sharing of the article before backtracking after accusations of censorship.
“If we take away something that’s not allowed, that’s the worst,” Zuckerberg said in a rare extended media interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Zuckerberg said a wrong decision “sucks.”
The New York Post story appeared several weeks before the presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, which Mr. Biden won.
It claimed that a laptop left in a repair shop by Hunter Biden contained emails about Hunter introducing a Ukrainian energy magnate to his father and arranging a meeting. Mr. Biden’s diary contains no details of such a meeting.
Crucially, it feeds the long-running, unproven allegations of corruption by Joe Biden to ensure his son’s business success in Ukraine.
In that context, the New York Post’s story, based on exclusive data to which no other news agency had access, was met with skepticism – and censored by social media. Zuckerberg told Rogan, “The background is that the FBI came to us – some people on our team – and said, ‘Hey, just so you know, you have to be vigilant.’ We thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election; we got it that there’s going to be some dump that looks like that.”
He said the FBI did not alert Facebook to the Biden story, only that Facebook thought it “fit that pattern.” The article remains controversial. The hard drive at issue was provided to the Post by Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
More than a year after the story appeared, the Washington Post conducted its analysis. It concluded that the laptop and some emails were likely authentic – but most of the data could not be verified because of “sloppy handling of the data.” Other once-skeptical news organizations, such as the New York Times, agree that some of the e-mails are real.
Rogan, one of the world’s most popular podcasters with an audience of millions for each episode, has himself been accused of spreading misinformation in the past. Asked Zuckerberg if he regretted suppressing the real story, the Facebook founder replied, “It sucks…. I think it sucks in the same way as having to go through a criminal trial but ultimately being innocent…. in the end, you’re free.”
But Zuckerberg acknowledged disagreement over the story, which he said was a “hyper-political issue.” “Depending on which side of the political spectrum [you stand], you either think we didn’t censor it enough or we censored it way too much.”