Nick Clegg 'was involved in Facebook's decision to hush-up story'

Nick Clegg ‘was involved in Facebook’s decision to hush-up story about Joe Biden’s son’ that led to social media giant being branded the Democrat’s ‘PR team’ by Republicans

  • Nick Clegg is vice-president of global affairs and communications at Facebook
  • Facebook was accused of ‘acting as Joe Biden’s PR team’ by top Republicans
  • Decision to ‘reduce the distribution’ came before the US election on November 3
  • For moderation issues that hold political significance Sir Nick will look into it
  • It is not known who had the final say in the distribution of the Joe Biden story 

Former British Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg was involved in Facebook’s decision to ‘reduce the distribution’ of a New York Post Joe Biden story, reports suggest. 

The social media firm was accused of ‘acting as Joe Biden’s PR team’ by top Republicans for hushing up the story just days before the US election on November 3.

Sir Nick, who left the UK government in 2015, is now the vice-president of global affairs and communications at the social media giant.

The Post story alleges that Biden met with a Ukrainian businessman in 2015 – when the businessman was paying his son Hunter $50,000-a-month. 

Months later, Biden – then the US Vice President – pressured Ukrainian officials into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the businessman, it claims.

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it had started ‘reducing distribution’ of the New York Post’s story until their army of third-party ‘fact checkers’ had vetted it. 

Nick Clegg was involved in Facebook’s decision to ‘reduce the distribution’ of a New York Post Joe Biden, reports suggest

Hunter and Joe Biden. The Post story suggests that Joe, while VP, had a meeting with a Ukrainian businessman after being introduced to him by Hunter, eight months before pressuring Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating the businessman

Most of Facebook’s decisions are made by automatic software – or by moderation staff, The Daily Telegraph reports.

But, for sensitive moderation issues that hold cultural or political significance, Facebook’s vice-president of content policy, vice-president of global public policy and then Sir Nick look into the case as it passes up a chain.

Only the most high-profile cases will hit Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or COO Sheryl Sandberg’s desks.

It is not known who had the final say in the distribution of the Joe Biden story and Facebook declined to comment to the newspaper. 

On Thursday, Twitter locked the account of Trump’s re-election campaign for posting the Joe Biden Ukraine story – after shutting down the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s account over the same thing.

Conservatives on Thursday said the extraordinary move – taken just 19 days before the election – gives Biden’s campaign an unfair advantage.

On Wednesday night, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had her account locked over the same thing. 

Trump has now threatened to revoke Twitter and Facebook’s Section 230 protections – which shield them from being sued over content posted on their platforms.  

The Team Trump Twitter has now been locked for posting the New York Post story about Joe and Hunter Biden 19 days before the election 

Since announcing it started ‘reducing distribution’ of the story, Facebook hasn’t given any information about why it took the step, who the fact checkers are or when they will allow it to be shared again. 

Twitter followed them, blocking people from posting links to the article online.

On Wednesday night, CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for the opaqueness of the decision and said it was ‘unacceptable’ that the company didn’t explain themselves sooner. 

He stood by blocking it, claiming the article contains ‘private information’ which breaches Twitter’s policies. 

The story alleges that Biden met with a Ukrainian businessman in 2015 when the businessman was paying his son Hunter $50,000-a-month. Months later, Biden – then the Vice President – pressured Ukrainian officials into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the businessman. 

Neither Joe nor Hunter has denied the story outright. Now, many are accusing the two tech companies of playing favorites because no anti-Trump story by a legitimate news organization has ever faced such tough restrictions.   

In his apology, Dorsey said there had been a lack of communication surrounding Twitter’s decision which was ‘unacceptable’ but he stands by the decision to block it.  

‘Our communication around our actions on the NYPost article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable,’ he said. 

He then linked to a statement from the company that said it was restricting the link because ‘personal and private information’ had been shared in the story. 

The Post story says that the former Vice President met with Ukrainian businessman Vadym Pozharskyi, as associate of his son Hunter, months before Biden would pressure Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Pozharskyi’s firm.  

Facebook and Twitter were accused of ‘election interference’ for throttling the article. 

Facebook claimed it needed to be independently verified by fact-checkers before it could be shared on their platforms. 

Twitter gave no explanation up-front. 

Dorsey’s apology was the latest in a string of developments surrounding the issue that included;

  • White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany having her personal Twitter account locked for reposting the article 
  • Trump campaign’s Twitter was locked for posting the article too  
  • Facebook refusing to reveal who their fact-checkers are or who specifically among them would be responsible for vetting the Post’s story 
  • President Trump spoke at a campaign rally where he condemned big tech’s handling of the issue 
  • His son, Donald Trump Jr., led a chorus of conservative voices accusing the companies of election interference 
  • The New York Post accused Facebook of starting a ‘tech civil war’
  • Biden’s campaign did not deny the veracity of the emails, saying only that they could not find a record of any meeting between him and the Ukrainian businessman 
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said it was investigating the emails 

‘So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of ‘Smoking Gun’ emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost,’ Trump tweeted Wednesday evening. 

‘It is only the beginning for them. 

‘There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!’ he added, threatening the protections law. 

Twitter now look to have stepped back from its actions, however, with Dorsey on Wednesday night accepting the company may have been wrong. 

‘Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great,’ he tweeted. 


Trump’s tax returns – September 2020

The New York Times published a report on September 27 in which it claimed President Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018. 

The story did not include any images of the tax returns the journalist received. 

Trump denied it repeatedly saying it was not accurate and that he’d paid millions in taxes. 

Facebook and Twitter did not restrict how it was shared online. 

Melania tapes – October 2020 

CNN published recordings of the First Lady where she was heard cursing and complaining about being given a hard time by the press. 

They’d been recorded without her knowledge by her friend,  Stephanie Winston Wolkoff in the summer of 2018.  

Dirty dossier and Trump’s alleged ties with Russia – October 2016

The Steele Dossier, which became known as the ‘dirty dossier’, was part of an opposition effort to thwart Trump’s election chances in 2016.

It contained questionable sourcing and claims that Trump and the Russians had colluded. Among the more outlandish claims was that the President engaged with prostitutes who performed ‘golden showers’. 

Mother Jones first reported the claims then BuzzFeed picked them up. 

The story predates the social networks’ vow to crack down more on misinformation.  

‘And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable.’

He quoted a further tweet from the Twitter Safety account which said it wanted to ‘provide much needed clarity around the actions we’ve taken with respect to two NY Post articles that were first Tweeted this morning’. 

Twitter now claims that they placed the restrictions on the articles as they contained personal information such as phone numbers, as well as information that had been hacked. 

‘The images contained in the articles include personal and private information — like email addresses and phone numbers — which violate our rules,’ the company stated. 

‘As noted this morning, we also currently view materials included in the articles as violations of our Hacked Materials Policy.

‘Commentary on or discussion about hacked materials, such as articles that cover them but do not include or link to the materials themselves, aren’t a violation of this policy. 

‘Our policy only covers links to or images of hacked material themselves,’ it concluded. 

Some have accused the company of hypocrisy, however, as other linked material from other sources, such as Wikileaks, still appear on the platform. 

In an editorial, the New York Post also refuted the hacking claims, stating that the original story explains where the material came from. 

‘Our story explains where the info came from, and a Senate committee now confirms it also received the files from the same source’, it hit back. 

The publication also complained that neither Twitter or Facebook restricted the New York Times’ series of exposés on Donald Trump’s tax returns. 

That series did not publish personal information but has not revealed its exact source. The Times says it was ‘was legally obtained by reporters’. 

The announcement from Twitter came after one of the White House’s most prominent figures, Kayleigh McEnany, was hit by the restrictions. 

On Wednesday evening, her personal account still featured a retweet of a separate Post article referencing the original story yet there was also a note at on the page stating that a previous tweet was no longer available. 

According to screenshots shared to Twitter, McEnany received a message to say a tweet violated Twitter’s rules.  


An example of the emails with personal details shared in the New York Post article


Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today.

Under the U.S. law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. 

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act – itself part of a broader telecom law – provides a legal ‘safe harbor’ for internet companies.

But Republicans increasingly argue that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity – or at least have to earn it by satisfying requirements set by the government.

Section 230 probably can’t be easily dismantled. But if it was, the internet as we know it might cease to exist.

Just what is Section 230?

If a news site falsely calls you a swindler, you can sue the publisher for libel. But if someone posts that on Facebook, you can’t sue the company – just the person who posted it.

That’s thanks to Section 230, which states that ‘no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.’

That legal phrase shields companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted – whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

Section 230 also allows social platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that, for instance, are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in ‘good faith.’ 

What happens if Section 230 is limited or goes away?

‘I don´t think any of the social media companies would exist in their current forms without Section 230,’ Kosseff said. ‘They have based their business models on being large platforms for user content.’

There are two possible outcomes:

Platforms might get more cautious.

This outcome could actually hurt none other than the president himself, who routinely attacks private figures, entertains conspiracy theories and accuses others of crimes. 

Another possibility: Facebook, Twitter and other platforms could abandon moderation altogether and let the lower common denominator prevail. 

Both McEnany’s personal account and her account as WH Press Secretary could still be viewed as of Wednesday night. 

The New York also said its own Twitter account was locked.  

This is not the first time that Trump has come for Section 230.  

Under the U.S. law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. 

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act – itself part of a broader telecom law – provides a legal ‘safe harbor’ for internet companies. 

Trump has previously threatened to repeal the law, angered at social media platforms actions in censoring some of his content. 

The New York Post story suggests that Biden met with Ukrainian businessman Vadym Pozharskyi in 2015, when Hunter was working for Pozharskyi’s gas firm. Months later, Biden pressured Ukrainian officials into firing a prosecutor who was looking in to the firm. 

If true, it raises serious questions of whether or not Biden abused his power as Vice President. 

Facebook, however, has decided to ‘reduce distribution’ of the article until it has been verified by its own, third-party ‘fact checkers’. 

It didn’t say why it was taking the unusual step. 

Later, Twitter users reported being unable to share links to the story online. 

Conservatives accused big tech of interfering in the election and trying to protect Biden by ‘censoring’ the story while allowing unflattering stories about Trump to spread like wildfire. 

One New York Post editor called it a ‘digital civil war’ and others asked why the sites hadn’t taken the same tough line on anti-Trump stories.

The Post’s online editorial on the issue read in part: ‘Censor first, ask questions later: It’s an outrageous attitude for one of the most powerful platforms in the United States to take.’ 

‘No one is disputing the veracity of The Post’s story — not even Hunter Biden,’ it added.

‘His lawyer George R. Mesires wouldn’t deign to comment on the reporting, simply attacking the messenger. 

‘The Biden campaign did the same, dismissing it all as ‘discredited,’ while saying that no meeting showed up on Joe Biden’s official schedule on those dates (well if it wasn’t ‘official,’ guess it didn’t happen).

‘Yet Facebook is deliberately trying to keep its users from reading and deciding for themselves what it means.

‘This, when it did nothing to restrict access to the recent New York Times story on President Trump’s tax returns. 

And the Times didn’t say a word about how it obtained that confidential personal data,’ the Post’s piece continued.

Andy Stone, who is a policy communications director at Facebook announced the decision on Twitter.

‘While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners. In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform,’ he said.  

Donald Jr. was among the first to criticize it but others, including Republican Senator Josh Hawley, are now demanding answers from Facebook. 

Andy Stone, who is a policy communications director at Facebook announced the decision on Twitter on Wednesday. Aside from his tweet, the company has said nothing 

The Team Trump campaign Twitter account has also been locked for trying to share the article

‘Are you kidding me? After all the lies that they pushed about us and Russia collusion for years… now there’s credible evidence against the Bidens and they eliminated on their platform? 

‘Give me a break big tech has way too much power and it needs to be stopped? 

‘Joe said he never met these people and here’s an email refuting then why don’t they actually fat check in rather than just taking it off their platform. 

‘They know it will hurt Biden so they will do what they can to cover it up, that’s what they do,’ he fumed. 

In an open letter to Facebook, Sen. Hawley said: ‘It has come to my attention that this news report—one clearly relevant to the public interest—has been censored on Facebook. 

‘The seemingly selective nature of this public intervention suggests partiality on the part of Facebook. 

‘And your efforts to suppress the distribution of content revealing potentially unethical activity by a candidate for president raises a number of additional questions, to which I expect responses immediately.’ 

In its editorial, the Post said: ‘So much for Facebook’s claims to be a neutral platform: One of its top execs just put the social-media giant firmly in the pro-Biden camp.  

‘Andy Stone, the social-media company’s policy communications manager, boasted about burying The Post’s story on proof that Hunter Biden merchandized access to his dad. 

‘Especially when Stone wears his own bias on his sleeve: The quick biography he posts on Twitter shows his long history of working for Democrats, including lefty then-Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.’  

Facebook has been accused of election interference for making the decision 

Others accused Facebook of protecting Biden, the Democratic Presidential Candidate, while allowing unflattering stories about President Trump to spread. 

Conservative media outlet The Federalist said the company was now ‘officially censoring’ the Post. 

Facebook has not responded to inquiries about why it has reason to doubt the story or squash it.  


Facebook ‘partners’ with more than 30 fact checking organizations but nowhere does it provide a list of who they are or what their political leanings are.  

All it says is that they belong to the International Fact-Checking Network. 

Among them is The Daily Caller – a right-wing outlet. Snopes had been working with them but ended their partnership in 2019.  

They are tasked with returning a decision on whether or not a piece of content or article is truthful. 

After that, the company can still decide to overrule their decision and has in the past, notably in favor of outspoken Conservatives in an apparent effort not to appear as though they are favoring the Left.  

It is also unclear what the extent of the circulation reduction is.   

The New York Post is historically Conservative and the source for the story was Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump’s closest aides. 

He gave the Post a trove of emails in which Ukrainian businessman Vadym Pozharskyi thanked Hunter for introducing him to his father, then the Vice President. 

Within months of the 2015 meeting that Pozharskyi refers to in the emails, Biden had successfully pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was looking into Pozharskyi’s business.  

At the time, Hunter was being paid $50,000-a-month by Pozharskyi’s gas firm to act as a consultant, despite the fact he’d had no experience working in the gas industry.

After the Post story emerged on Wednesday, the Biden campaign said he had never met Vadym Pozharskyi.  

Biden has repeatedly insisted he was never influenced by Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine when he was Vice President. 

The emails were taken from a damaged laptop which was left, mysteriously, in a Delaware tech repair shop. 

It had a Beau Biden Foundation sticker on it and the person who dropped it off – who has not been identified – never collected it again. 

The store owner looked through the computer’s hard drive and not only found the emails but also found a video of Hunter Biden, a self-confessed drug addict, smoking crack while engaging in a sex act. 

After Facebook’s announcement on Wednesday, many asked if the company – which is notoriously left-leaning – would have applied the same type of scrutiny to the New York Times or any other Democrat-friendly media outlets. 

Earlier this year, when the Times published an expose about Trump only paying $750 in federal income tax for two years, the story spread like wildfire on social media. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg routinely resists sharing his political leanings. 

In recent years, he has been attacked on both sides of the aisle for occupying too much of the tech industry and market while resisting oversight boards.  


January 2009: Hunter Biden (right) quits lobbying because his father has become vice president, and sets up investment and advisory firm firm Rosemont Seneca with friends Christopher Heinz – John Kerry’s stepson – and Devon Archer (left), a former Kerry aide

July 2010: Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, who owns its biggest natural gas company Burisma joins the government of its president Viktor Yanukovych

February 2014: Yanukovych is deposed in a revolution which claims scores of lives and Burisma Zlochevsky is thrown out of government too

April 16: Burisma is secretly accused of money-laundering by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office. On the same day Archer meets Joe Biden at the White House. Six days later Archer joins the board of Burisma 

April 28: Britain’s Serious Fraud Office freeze $23 million of Burisma’s cash, every dollar which exists in the UK’s banking system 

May 12: Hunter joins the board of Burisma to improve ‘corporate governance.’ Hunter’s salary is later revealed to be $50,000-a-month. Burisma board advisor Vadym Pozharskyi who had met Hunter in Lake Como, Italy, days earlier, emails him asking to ‘use his influence’ to stop prosecutions. During the summer, the new prosecutor-general of Ukraine opens an investigation into Burisma

February 2015: Senior diplomat George Kent, on temporary assignment to Kyiv, learns of Hunter’s role. He phones a staffer at Biden’s office to it could ‘create perception of a conflict of interest.’ That month Viktor Shokin takes office as Ukraine’s prosecutor general, despite already being the subject of questions about his own links to corruption

April 17: Email from Hunter’s laptop shows Pozharskyi writing Hunter: ‘thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent some together.’ 

Summer: The Burisma investigation appears to become dormant 

January 2016: Biden travels to Ukraine amid mounting international disgust at Shokin failing to tackle corruption. One of the concerns raised by the European Union and IMF is that he has failed to investigate Burisma. Biden tells Poroshenko he needs to go. He later boasts: ‘I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.’ Shokin in fact is finally removed from office in March after internal turmoil in Kyiv

2018: Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani starts ‘investigating’ the Bidens’ links to Ukraine, enlisting the help of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are now indicted on fraud charges. Ukraine’s latest prosecutor general announces he will investigate Burisma early the next year 

April 12, 2019: Hunter takes three damaged Macs to John Paul MacIsaac’s Apple repair shop in WIlmington, Delaware. MacIsaac puts data from one on a new hard drive

April 25: Joe Biden announces presidential run

Summer: MacIsaac claims he becomes worried that Hunter has not picked up his laptops he has seen some of what is on them, and thinks he might be killed by a Biden associate for having it in his shop

Fall: MacIsaac either contacts the FBI or is contacted by them; he has said both

December 9 or 19: The FBI pick up the laptop, but MacIsaac has made a copy for himself. They give him a grand jury subpoena to hand it over, even though he was going to anyway

Early January 2020: The FBI tell MacIsaac not to talk to anyone and to stall if a Biden representative comes to get the laptop back 


February: Trump is acquitted at end of his impeachment trial

September: Steve Bannon, Trump’s ex-aide and now indicted on fraud charges, tells New York Post about existence of laptop

October 11: Giuliani gives Post the hard drive

October 14: Post publishes emails and partially-clothed pictures of Hunter from the laptop – one of them with an apparent crack pipe – and says it has an 11-minute sex-and-drugs video. Giuliani promises there is ‘more to come,’ Republican senators promise to investigate but Democrats say the former New York mayor has ‘paraded with Russian agents’

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