Facebook is limiting the distribution of the New York Post's bombshell story about a "smoking gun" email appearing to show that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden met with a top Ukrainian natural gas executive while he was vice president, contrary to Biden's prior claims.
According to the Post, a 2015 email between Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden and Vadym Pozharskyi, an advisor to Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company, shows Pozharskyi thanking the younger Biden for introducing him to his father, then the vice president. At the time, Hunter Biden served on the company's board.
The alleged meeting would have taken place less than a year before Vice President Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.
The elder Biden has denied that he ever had any conversations with his son related to foreign business dealings. The email, if true, contradicts Biden's claims.
A spokesman for Facebook said Wednesday the social media platform would be reducing distribution of the Post's story and noted that the report is eligible to be fact-checked by Facebook's third-party partners.
"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," Facebook's Andy Stone tweeted Wednesday. "In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform."
"This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation," he added in a follow-up tweet. "We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review."
This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pen… https://t.co/lI19UcsoSc— Andy Stone (@Andy Stone)1602694835.0
Stone serves as the policy communications manager at Facebook. He previously worked as a press secretary for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and the communications director for the Democratic House Majority PAC.
Facebook's policies on reducing misinformation state that the company will refer stories it thinks contain misinformation to third-party fact-checkers for review. While an article is under review, Facebook suppresses the story in people's news feeds so that fewer people see it. The intent of this policy is to prevent the spread of what Facebook deems as misinformation.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the New York Post on why it targeted the Post's report and whether the fact-checking process had begun.
The Trump campaign weighed in on Facebook's decision, accusing the big tech company of "actively interfering in the election" and "rigging the election for Joe Biden."
This is a Facebook employee. Facebook is actively interfering in the election. Facebook is rigging the election f… https://t.co/VWpYsbURIF— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022)1602688853.0
According to the Post, Twitter also added a warning label stating "headlines don't tell the full story" that is visible to some users who attempt to share the article. The warning "is part of a test we're doing right now. It does not depend on the outlet of the article, or the contents of the article," Twitter spokesman Trenton Kennedy said.