Mark Zuckerberg has sparked outrage with his bombshell revelation that Facebook deliberately used an algorithm to suppress stories about Hunter Biden‘s laptop in 2020 before the November election after an intervention by the FBI.
Republican politicians and voters have accused the FBI and Facebook of censorship, adding further questions about whether Americans should have been aware of the laptop before going to the polls and the impartiality of the bureau head Chris Wray, who ordered the raid on Mar-a-Lago this month.
The GOP have torn into the quashing of the story and have vowed to investigate Zuckerberg, the FBI and Hunter if they retake the majority in the House in the midterms.
Republican Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia said: ‘This isn’t just insane, it’s election interference. The Oversight Committee must immediately invite Mark Zuckerberg to testify—under oath—about the FBI’s attempts to circumvent the First Amendment. The American people deserve answers and accountability.’
GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy added: ‘The FBI colluded with Big Tech to silence news stories weeks before the 2020 election in an attempt to control your access to information.
‘Democrats in Congress have been intentionally ignoring the facts. When Republicans are back in charge, we will hold all of them accountable.’
Ted Cruz called it ‘complete corruption, plain and simple’ and Ron Johnson said: ‘We need whistleblowers to come forward to expose the truth, hold people accountable and restore integrity and credibility to the FBI and federal agencies. We need to get to the bottom of this corruption.’
Zuckerberg said Facebook enacted a policy of ‘decreased distribution’ to deliberately push down the story on people’s newsfeeds to limit its reach, while Twitter went even further and banned the story from its platform.
The billionaire said: ‘I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it. You could still consume it.’
Three weeks before the election, the New York Post revealed the sordid contents of Hunter’s laptop, showing compromising photos of the then presidential candidate’s son and his questionable business dealings implicating his father.
The huge cache of files, emails and photos was seen by many as a smoking gun that could have turned the tide in the election, but social media bosses at Facebook and Twitter minimized the story for unfounded fears it could be Russian misinformation.
DailyMail.com independently verified the laptop with a forensic analysis by top cyber experts and has been regularly publishing revelations ever since, while many other news outlets refused to touch the story.
But now, Zuckerberg has openly admitted how he tried to limit the electorate from accessing the stories in a terrifying insight into how easily democracy can be undermined by tech firms.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed how the platform used an algorithm to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story when it first surfaced in 2020.
During Thursday’s Joe Rogan Experience Zuckerberg addressed the issue of media censorship and was asked by Rogan how Facebook handles controversial news topics
Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop has laid bare his secret porn addiction as well as his penchant for making his own amateur sex videos
How Hunter Biden’s laptop became a political storm
Jon Paul Mac Isaac first acquired the laptop in 2019 when Hunter dropped it off at his store and never returned to get it.
He then turned it over to the FBI, and eight months later, Mac Isaac gave a copy of its hard drive to Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in September 2020.
Giuliani then reportedly leaked documents and photos from the drive to the New York Post, and also gave a whole copy of the drive to Trump advisor Steve Bannon and his podcast co-host Jack Maxey.
On October 14, three weeks before the election, the New York Post published its first story on the scandal about an alleged meeting between Joe Biden and a Ukrainian businessman, found in Hunter’s emails.
Further articles emerged about Biden’s relationship with China, and exposing Hunter’s drug and sex life.
Mainstream news outlet questioned the story and its source, with many speculating it was part of a misinformation campaign by Putin to influence the election.
But the New York Post had seen evidence of an FBI subpoena to seize the computer and hard drive, dated from December 2019.
By March 2021, DailyMail.com had authenticated the laptop and its contents, something the mainstream news outlets such as the New York Times did not do for another 12 months.
Rogan questioned: ‘So when you say the distribution is decreased, how does that work?’
Zuckerberg said: ‘The ranking in the newsfeed was a little bit less, so fewer people saw it than otherwise.’
When asked by what percentage, the Facebook boss said: ‘I don’t know off the top of my head, but it’s meaningful. But basically, a lot of people were still able to share it. We got a lot of complaints that that was the case.
‘We weren’t, sort of, as black and white about it as Twitter. We just kind of thought if the FBI, which I still view as a legitimate institution in this country, it’s a very professional law enforcement. They come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something. Then I wanna take that seriously,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘Did they specifically say you need to be on guard about that story?’ Rogan asked.
‘I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern,’ Zuckerberg explained.
But Rogan then pushed further asking about the aftermath of suppressing the story which turned out to be factual.
‘Yeah. I mean, it sucks, it turned out after the fact. The fact-checkers looked into it, no one was able to say it was false, right. So basically it had this period where it was getting less distribution,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘I think it probably, it sucks though, I think in the same way that probably having to go through like a criminal trial, but being proven innocent in the end, sucks. Like it still sucks that you had to go through a criminal trial, but at the end you’re free,’ he added.
‘I don’t know if the answer would’ve been don’t do anything or don’t have any process. I think the process was pretty reasonable. We still let people share it, but obviously you don’t want situations like that,’ he explained.
At the time the story broke, more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a letter claiming it ‘had all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.’
During Thursday’s interview, Zuckerberg attempted to shift attention by repeating how Twitter’s prohibited the sharing of the story and locked the Post’s account.
‘So we took a different path than Twitter. Basically the background here is the FBI, I think basically came to us — some folks on our team and was like, “Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant.”‘
Hunter’s laptop included a slew of compromising and X-rated content – including nude, pornographic and drug-related images and videos of the president’s adult son
Hunter Biden has not been charged with wrongdoing, but investigators have been looking into suspected violations of federal gun and tax laws
How Zuckerberg revealed bombshell that Facebook suppressed Hunter Biden story
Rogan: How do you guys handle things when they’re a big news item that’s controversial, like there was a lot of attention on Twitter during the election because of the Hunter Biden laptop story. So you guys censored that as well?
Zuckerberg: So we took a different path than Twitter. Basically the background here is the FBI, I think basically came to us — some folks on our team and was like, ‘Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant. So our protocol is different from Twitter’s. What Twitter did is they said ‘You can’t share this at all.’ We didn’t do that. If something’s reported to us as potentially, misinformation, important misinformation, we also use this third party fact-checking program, cause we don’t wanna be deciding what’s true and false. I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it. You could still consume it.
Rogan: So when you say the distribution is decreased, how does that work?
Zuckerberg: The ranking in the newsfeed was a little bit less, so fewer people saw it than otherwise.
Rogan: By what percentage?
Zuckerberg: I don’t know off the top of my head, but it’s meaningful. But basically, a lot of people were still able to share it. We got a lot of complaints that that was the case. Obviously this is a hyper political issue so depending on what side of the political spectrum you either think we didn’t censor it enough or censored it far too much. But we weren’t, sort of, as black and white about it as Twitter. We just kind of thought if the FBI, which I still view as a legitimate institution in this country, it’s a very professional law enforcement. They come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something. Then I wanna take that seriously.
Rogan: Did they specifically say you need to be on guard about that story?
Zuckerberg: No, I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern.
Rogan: When something like that turns out to be real, is there regret for not having it evenly distributed and for throttling the distribution of that story?
Zuckerberg: What do you mean evenly distributed.
Rogan: I mean evenly in that it’s not suppressed.
Zuckerberg: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it sucks, it turned out after the fact. The fact-checkers looked into it, no one was able to say it was false, right. So basically it had this period where it was getting less distribution. I think it probably, it sucks though, I think in the same way that probably having to go through like a criminal trial, but being proven innocent in the end, sucks. Like it still sucks that you had to go through a criminal trial, but at the end you’re free. I don’t know if the answer would’ve been don’t do anything or don’t have any process. I think the process was pretty reasonable. We still let people share it, but obviously you don’t want situations like that.
Zuckerbeg said that if something is reported as misinformation, it has a third-party fact-checking team that determines if it’s is misinformation.
‘So our protocol is different from Twitter’s. What Twitter did is they said “You can’t share this at all.” We didn’t do that,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘If something’s reported to us as potentially, misinformation, important misinformation, we also use this third party fact-checking program, cause we don’t wanna be deciding what’s true and false,’ he continued.
The revelations have prompted outrage with many accusing Facebook of deliberately meddling in the election to oust Donald Trump from power.
Republican Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia said: ‘This isn’t just insane, it’s election interference.
‘The Oversight Committee must immediately invite Mark Zuckerberg to testify—under oath—about the FBI’s attempts to circumvent the First Amendment.
‘The American people deserve answers and accountability.’
Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said: ‘So the FBI preemptively warned Facebook off Hunter Biden laptop reporting.
‘This same agency effectively laundered Russian disinfo in the 2016 election in the form of Steele dossier. And later lied to a court to get wiretaps.’
Hunter abandoned his laptop at a Delaware computer store in 2019.
John Paul Mac Isaac, the store owner, gave a copy of its hard drive to Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in September 2020, after handing over the original to the FBI the previous year.
Giuliani leaked documents and photos from the drive to the New York Post, and also gave a whole copy of the drive to Bannon and his podcast co-host Maxey.
The New York Post published excerpts of emails and photos from the laptop ahead of the 2020 election, but they were widely dismissed as fake or ‘Russian disinformation’ without evidence.
It is far from the first scandal to rock Facebook and its decisions that have huge ramifications for democracy.
The social media company was savaged after it was revealed that 87million users’ data was harvested through Cambridge Analytica.
The data was then used for political advertising and to provide analytics for the 2016 presidential election.
And last year, whistleblower Frances Haugen claimed the tech giant ignored internal complaints from staff for years to put profits first, ‘lied’ to investors and shielded CEO Mark Zuckerberg from public scrutiny.
She claimed Facebook knowingly spread misinformation, fueled hate speech, failed to crack down on abuses spread on the platform and exacerbated body image issues, particularly among teenage girls.
In the Facebook papers, the company was accused of being used to traffic women in the Middle East which bosses failed to eradicate despite warnings.
After publicly promising to crack down, Facebook acknowledged in internal documents that it was ‘under-enforcing on confirmed abusive activity’ that saw Filipina maids complaining on the social media site of being abused.
The documents also reveal that Mark Zuckerberg personally agreed to requests from Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party to censor anti-government dissidents.
It was also warned that Instagram ‘may never be safe for 14-year-olds’ because it can turn them into addicts and school bullying follows them home.
Two Republican senators who launched a probe into Hunter’s business dealings are now demanding the right to question FBI agents who suggested that negative stories about the president’s son were ‘Russian disinformation’.
Senators Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, and Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, are asking that the two FBI officials who briefed Congress about Russian disinformation once again testify in September about the purpose of the briefing.
They claim in a letter sent to the agents on Thursday that it was ‘unnecessary and was only done because of pressure from our Democratic colleagues, including Democratic leadership to falsely attack our Biden investigation as advancing Russian disinformation.’
‘Simply put, the unnecessary FBI briefing provided the Democrats and liberal media the vehicle to spread their false narrative that our work advanced Russian disinformation,’ they wrote.
The letter obtained by the Washington Examiner, names the FBI officials who gave the briefing on August 6, 2020 as Nikki Floris, the intelligence analyst in charge of the Washington Field Office’s intelligence division, and Bradley Benavides, deputy assistant director of the Washington Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division.
As the senators write in the letter, Floris and Benavides tried to assure them that ‘the FBI didn’t intent to “interfere” in or investigation.’
But, they said, ‘the practical effect of such an unnecessary briefing and the subsequent leaks relating to it created interference, which frustrated and obstructed Congressional oversight efforts.’
Senators Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, and Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, are asking that the two FBI officials who briefed Congress about Russian disinformation once again testify in September about the purpose of the briefing
Questions over Christopher Wray’s ‘politicization’ of FBI
Christopher Wray has served as director of the FBI since 2017 and has recently attracted criticism from Republicans.
The spy chief carried out the controversial raid on Mar-a-Lago this month in an unprecedented search.
The move prompted an increase of threats against FBI agents and offices across the country.
Some Republicans even called for the FBI to be defunded for targeting the ex-presidnt.
Wray has also been criticized for his handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
His agents told social media platforms to be wary of Russian misinformation, which led to the censorship of the original story.
The subsequent investigation into Hunter has also been slammed.
Senator Ron Johnson accused the FBI of major bias over whistleblower claims that the bureau suppressed negative information about Hunter Biden.
The Wisconsin Republican said he has ‘no faith’ in Wray, who was appointed by Donald Trump, to oversee anything related to President Joe Biden’s son.
The two senators went on to say they had repeatedly raised their concerns about the briefing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, but their concerns were ignored.
Then when they attended the briefing, the senators wrote they found it ‘consisted primarily of information that we already knew and information unconnected to our Biden investigation.’
Grassley and Johnson added they ‘made clear to you at the briefing that it was not relevant to the substance of our work.
‘We also made clear our concern that the briefing would be subject to a leak that would shed a false light on the focus of our investigation,’ they continued, claiming that a Washington Post story from the time proves their concerns were valid.
The senators also noted they have repeatedly requested ‘relevant records relating to what happened at the briefing… the intelligence basis for the briefing and the personnel involved in making the decision to brief us.’
But, they said, the FBI has ‘consistently failed to respond in full to each request and failed to provide these critical records, which casts further doubt on the true purpose for the briefing.’
Now, though, Grassley and Johnson write, the time is ripe for the FBI agents to testify about the purpose of the meeting.
They note: ‘Whistleblowers have recently alleged that in August 2020, the same month you provided the briefing to us, FBI officials initiated a scheme to downplay derogatory information on Hunter Biden for the purpose of shutting down investigative activity relating to his potential criminal exposure by labeling it disinformation.
‘Whistleblowers have also alleged that local FBI leadership instructed employees not to look at the Hunter Biden laptop immediately after the FBI had obtained it.’
A letter the two senators sent to the agents reveal that Bradley Benavides, deputy assistant director of the Washington Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division and Nikki Floris, the intelligence analyst in charge of the Washington Field Office’s intelligence division provided the briefing on August 6, 2020
How Facebook let Cambridge Analytica gather details on up to 87million users
Cambridge Analytica gathered details on as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.
Their data is alleged to have been used to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.
Zuckerberg directly participated in decision-making that allowed the massive data breach, while Facebook misled users with claims of privacy protection, it has been alleged.
The District of Columbia has sued Zuckerberg for the breach, claiming he directly participated in important company decisions and was aware of the potential dangers of sharing users’ data.
The US capital’s attorney general argues that Zuckerberg was closely involved in conceiving the framework that allowed the Britain-based consulting firm to harvest millions of US Facebook users data
A whistleblower revealed in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica went on to use that data for political purposes, including trying to rally support for Donald Trump.
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has removed access to its data from thousands of apps suspected of abusing it, restricted the amount of information available to developers in general, and made it easier for users to calibrate restrictions on personal data sharing.
The statements echo Johnson’s former claims that whistleblowers informed him that local FBI leadership told the bureau employees ‘you will not look at the Hunter Biden laptop’ and that the FBI is ‘not going to change the outcome of the election again.’
He also said a new whistleblower revealed ‘that the FBI did not begin to examine the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop until after the 2020 presidential election – potentially a year after the FBI obtained the laptop in December 2019.’
Grassley and Johnson’s report on Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China — based on documents they found on his laptop — was ultimately published in September 2020.
It focused on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects, and said that Hunter Biden had ‘cashed in’ on his name.
According to the report Hudson West III, a venture funded by CEFC and its chairman Ye Jianming, paid $4,790,375.25 to Owasco P.C. over about one year.
Owasco P.C. is controlled by Hunter, according to Washington, D.C. filings, though a review of personal and corporate emails reveals little about what business Hunter conducted on behalf of Hudson West, and he hardly mentioned it in his autobiography.
In 2018 Chinese prosecutors accused Ye of ‘economic crimes’ including alleged fraud and bribery, and he has not been seen by the public since.
And a 2017 email sent by Hunter’s business associate James Gilliar said that Hunter would hold 10 percent of the equity in their multi-million-dollar deal with Chinese government-linked firm CEFC on behalf of ‘the big guy,’ a reported but unconfirmed reference to Joe Biden.
Gilliar wrote: ’10 held by H for the big guy?’
In one April 2014 email, Hunter also talks about how the announcement of his father’s upcoming trip to Ukraine as vice president may have a positive impact on his business deals with the energy firm Burisma.
The laptop also included pornography and evidence of Hunter’s drug use.
Joe Biden, though, has always insisted he had no involvement in his son’s business dealings, but he was a private citizen at the time of the emails.
A report from the two senators found that Hunter Biden (pictured in July) cashed in on his name in business dealings with a Chinese energy firm
AUTHENTICATING THE LAPTOP
DailyMail.com commissioned cyber forensics experts at Maryman & Associates to examine the hard drive to determine its authenticity.
The firm’s founder, Brad Maryman, was a 29-year veteran of the FBI, served as a Chief Information Security Officer and founded the bureau’s cyber forensics unit. His partner, Dr. Joseph Greenfield, is an associate professor at the University of Southern California and helped write their degree program in intelligence and cyber operations.
After an extensive analysis of the hard drive, Greenfield and Maryman produced a report for DailyMail.com detailing their findings.
Using the same forensic tools as federal and state law enforcement in criminal investigations, they found a total of 103,000 text messages, 154,000 emails and more than 2,000 photos.
– They found emails for multiple accounts on the laptop dating back to 2009, and other data which ‘appears to be related to Mr. Biden’ between 2016 and 2019.
– The report’s findings were consistent with the known timeline for the hard drive. A Wilmington, Delaware computer store work order with Hunter’s signature shows he left his 2017 MacBook Pro laptop there on April 12, 2019.
– The Maryman & Associates report said the original ‘Macintosh HD’ drive was created on March 28, 2018
– Hunter’s iCloud email address was added to the laptop’s system on October 21 2018, as well as his work email at his firm Rosemont Seneca on February 2 2019.
– The same day, a Gmail address he used to log onto sex cam sites, and another personal Gmail address belonging to Hunter, were also added.
– Beau Biden’s old Gmail account was added on February 7 2019.
– Emails addressed to Hunter’s various email addresses dating from December 2009 to December 2020 were found on the system.
– An iPad with the name ‘Hunter’s iPad’ and three email addresses associated with the Biden family was backed up on the laptop and on iCloud in January 2019 and again a month later.
– Greenfield found 818 call logs in this iPad backup with timestamps from June 2016 to February 2019.
– There were 8,942 entries in the iPad’s contacts book, created between April 2016 and January 2019.
– In February 2019 an iPhone XS was also synced with the laptop. Its serial number was consistent with the timestamps of the data on the phone.
In conclusion, ‘The operating system timestamps appear to be authentic, and no evidence was found to suggest that the timestamps or data were altered or manufactured,’ the report said. ‘No indications were found that would suggest the data was manufactured.’