- The Federal Election Commission says Twitter acted lawfully in restricting a New York Post article.
- The Post reported in October 2020 that it had a "smoking gun" email from Hunter Biden to a Ukrainian official.
- Twitter acted "for commercial reasons and not for the purpose of influencing an election," the FEC said.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Twitter was within its rights to censor an October 2020 New York Post article about Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden's son, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Commissioners unanimously agreed Twitter had acted lawfully in restricting distribution of the article, in which the publication claimed to have obtained a "smoking-gun email" from Hunter Biden to a Ukrainian official, per an FEC statement Tuesday.
Twitter restricted the circulation of the article on its platform shortly after it was published, citing its policy on "distribution of hacked material." The New York Post's account was suspended, and users couldn't tweet links to the story.
The FEC found that in restricting the distribution of the article, Twitter had acted "for commercial reasons and not for the purpose of influencing an election," Vice Chair Allen Dickerson and commissioner James "Trey" Trainor III said in the statement.
Even if Twitter hadn't acted for commercial reasons, its actions would have been protected by the First Amendment, they added.
Trainor and Dickerson also said the FEC, the federal body that enforces campaign finance law, was not the right forum to address the case.
"One need not shrink from the difficult policy questions involved with social media moderation to realize that they are not, at their core, campaign finance issues," they said in their statement.
They recommended Congress as a better forum.
The New York Post published a report in October 2020 in which it claimed to have obtained an email from Biden to a Ukrainian official. The report said a laptop repairman found the data on Biden's laptop and shared it with Rudy Giuliani's attorney.
The Post reported that Giuliani then shared the data with the publication.
Twitter's decision to restrict the circulation of the article sparked outrage, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey later said the company had been wrong to block the story. Twitter then updated its hacked materials policy - it no longer removes or blocks hacked content unless it's being shared directly by the hacker, according to the new policy.
The FEC also found Twitter acted lawfully when it added labels to tweets by then-president Donald Trump encouraging people to vote twice.