Facebook suppressed Biden laptop story after FBI warnings

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FILE – In this Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about “News Tab” at the Paley Center, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(NewsNation) — Facebook limited stories on its news feed related to the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop scoop in October 2020 after the FBI warned that Russian misinformation was expected to surge in the lead-up to the November election, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told podcast host Joe Rogan in an interview uploaded this week.

But there’s a chance you haven’t heard about this story. That’s because 77% of news outlets that reported on this story lean right, according to NewsNation’s partner Ground News, which monitors coverage based on media bias. Only two left-leaning media outlets reported on Zuckerberg’s recent revelation, according to Ground News’ Blindspot report.

Over the five to seven days when third-party fact-checkers were determining the legitimacy of the NY Post’s story, Facebook temporarily ranked the article lower in the platform’s newsfeed, thereby reducing its distribution, Zuckerberg said.

In explaining the decision, the Meta CEO said the FBI had warned Facebook that federal authorities were expecting a dump of Russian propaganda in the lead-up to the 2020 election and recommended the company be hyper-vigilant.

Zuckerberg told Rogan that Facebook’s approach still allowed the story to be shared more than it was on other social media platforms.

“What Twitter did is they said, ‘You can’t share this at all.’ We didn’t do that,” Zuckerberg said. “The distribution on Facebook was decreased but you were still allowed to share it.”

Shortly before the 2020 election, the NY Post published emails from a laptop that allegedly belonged to Hunter Biden, now-President Joe Biden’s son. Some of the emails purported to show correspondence between Hunter Biden and a Ukrainian energy executive, which led Trump and his allies to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Hunter’s business dealings while his father served as vice president.

The report was initially met with skepticism by media outlets but many of the emails were later determined to be authentic. Neither Biden nor his son have been found guilty of any wrongdoing, although Hunter Biden remains under federal investigation.

When asked whether he regretted throttling down the distribution of the story, Zuckerberg said he did.

“Yeah, it sucks,” Zuckerberg said. “It turned out, after the fact, the fact-checkers looked into it. No one was able to say it was false.”

Meta tweeted Thursday that the information revealed on the podcast was nothing new and pointed out that Zuckerberg had said as much in his testimony in front of Congress nearly two years ago.

“Consistent with our policy, after seven days, we lifted the demotion because it (the NY Post story) wasn’t rated false by independent fact-checkers,” Meta tweeted.

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