According to a new study, Twitter censorship made the Hunter Biden story nearly 2x more popular.
When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign. But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views—Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.
According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, shares of the Post article “nearly doubled” after Twitter started suppressing it. The poorly-thought-through ban triggered the so-called Streisand Effect and helped turn a sketchy article into a must-share blockbuster. And then on Friday, the Republican National Committee filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Twitter, claiming that the ban “amounts to an illegal corporate in-kind political contribution to the Biden campaign.”
Here is the data they found.
Zignal Labs tracked mentions and shares of the Hunter Biden story this week. Looking at the firehose of Twitter shares of the URL—including original tweets, retweets, and quote tweets—Zignal found a surge of shares immediately after Twitter instituted the block, jumping from about 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to about 10 thousand. This doesn’t necessarily mean the block caused the explosion in interest, but the surge corresponds with a series of widely shared tweets from Trump supporters and conservatives accusing the platform of political censorship.
The New York Post story, which was blocked on Twitter for about a day, was shared 352,200 times on the platform. Facebook, meanwhile, didn’t block people from linking directly to the story, but did announce that it was treating it as questionable and would limit its reach until third-party fact checkers could examine it (this is a policy Facebook announced in 2019 as part of its plan to combat election misinformation). The story still had 324,000 shares there, not including those inside private groups.
What a major backfire for Big Tech. Authoritarians like these CEOS never get it. The more you try to censor the truth the more popular it gets. However, I will say that this doesn’t mean censorship isn’t a major problem. The reason they couldn’t fully censor it is because of the amount of right-wing personality who attacked Twitter over this. Once those personalities are gone Twitter will be able to keep everything they don’t want off the platform.
Twitter is officially not letting anyone share the Hunter Biden story that broke from the New York Post earlier today.
WATCH: Twitter is blocking users from posting an news story they don’t like. pic.twitter.com/359PdR5ttv
— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) October 14, 2020
This is insane.
Twitter is blocking the posting of the New York Post story about emails that prove that Joe Biden lied about never discussing Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals.
Try it yourself. pic.twitter.com/KIQgWzisva
— Tim Murtaugh – Download the Trump 2020 app today! (@TimMurtaugh) October 14, 2020
Twitter also won’t let you DM the Hunter Biden article pic.twitter.com/ysPJmaKUPa
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) October 14, 2020
From The New York Post’s Op-Ed Editor:
This is a Big Tech information coup. This is digital civil war.
I, an editor at The New York Post, one of the nation’s largest papers by circulation, can’t post one of our own stories that details corruption by a major-party presidential candidate, Biden. pic.twitter.com/BKNQmAG19H
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) October 14, 2020
This is disgusting. I never want to hear anything again about Twitter not being left-leaning. I never want to hear again that Twitter isn’t a threat to free expression on the internet. They are actively shutting down the ability to share an article from one of America’s biggest newspapers.
We know why they are doing this as well. They aren’t doing this because the story is fake or misleading. They are doing this because it hurts Joe Biden.
Twitter never shutdown the pee tape conspiracy theories. They never shut down the Russian hoax conspiracy theories. This is clearly an effort to just protect Joe and Hunter Biden.
The Palmieri Report is a Pro-America News Outlet founded by Jacob Palmieri two years ago at the age of 19. Since its founding, it has gotten over 2M pages views and over 20k followers. The Palmieri Report is dedicated to giving people the truth so that they can form their own informed political opinions.