• Twitter said it blocked the story because it contained personal and private information and for violating its rules on hacked material
  • Facebook said it blocked the story because it needs to be fact-checked
  • Sen. Ted Cruz accused the social media platforms of "election interference"

Moves by Twitter and Facebook to limit access to a New York Post story on alleged influence peddling by Hunter Biden raised objections among supporters of President Donald Trump Friday and prompted Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify next week.

Blocking articles is not a new practice by the social media giants.

Twitter’s policy dates back to 2014 when it began suspending accounts promoting the Islamic State group. During this election cycle, it has labeled several Trump tweets as misinformation and directed followers to more reliable sources. It even briefly suspended Donald Trump Jr.’s account in July for sharing a misleading video about coronavirus.

Earlier this week, Twitter suspended multiple fake accounts that posted tweets including the phrase: "Yes, I'm Black and I'm voting for Trump!!!"

Facebook blocks content it deems in violation of its Community Standards based on authenticity, safety, privacy and dignity.

In 2018, Facebook prevented some users from posting information about a security breach that affected 50 million Facebook users. Facebook flagged the stories as spam. In 2014, it ran into criticism for blocking users in Pakistan from accessing pages belonging to a popular rock band and several left-wing pages. More recently, Facebook blocked access in August to a Thai group with more than 1 million members amid student protests, blaming the action on pressure from the Thai government.

On Friday, it shut the page of the conspiracy-embracing political party Advance New Zealand just two days ahead of that country's general election.

Trump used the action to renew his call to end liability protections for social media platforms.

The two social media platforms this week blocked two stories published by the Post making allegations the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden introduced a Ukrainian businessman to his then-vice president father a year before the elder Biden pressed for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor the U.S. and European governments deemed corrupt. Various investigations have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing by the elder Biden.

The allegations in the Post were based on emails from a laptop the younger Biden allegedly abandoned at a repair shop. The information was turned over to the Post Sunday by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, but in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Giuliani would not say how he had obtained the computer’s hard drive. The New York Times reported last year Giuliani was under investigation for his effort to tie the Bidens to wrongdoing in Ukraine.

The Post said former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who has pleaded innocent to money laundering charges, alerted the newspaper to the hard-drive's existence in late September.

The Biden campaign denied the allegations.

“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,” tweeted Andy Stone, Facebook’s policy communications manager.

“Facebook and Twitter are not media platforms. They’re propaganda machines,” the Post raged in response.

The New York Post, owned by News Corp. and the nation's 13th oldest newspaper, has a history of questionable content as well as sensational headlines. The conservative-leaning newspaper has a history of flattering Trump.

Republican lawmakers want Dorsey to testify Oct. 23. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the blocking action amounted to “election interference” with the Nov. 3 presidential balloting fast approaching.

“Never before have we seen active censorship of a major press publication with serious allegations of corruption of one of the two candidates for president,” Cruz said.

Twitter said it blocked users from posting links to the Post because the “articles include personal and private information … which violate our rules.” It also noted the stories violated the platform’s hacked materials policy.

The action brought a sharp rebuke from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and others.