It is difficult to regulate social media. Substack writer Matt Taibbi picked over the decision to block the New York Post story about Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, in a single day.
If you want to know why Taibbi was promoted by Musk, ask him, the owner and self-proclaimed Chief Twit. Despite their billing as evidence of a history of political bias at the company, the records depicted people caught in a trap that now ensnares Musk himself, who must make any tough decisions about what to allow on social media.
Company executives rushed to make a moderation call in a no-win situation when they saw the thread. The New York Post reported that a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden had evidence that he tried to broker a meeting between a business client and his father when Joe Biden was vice president.
Emails and messages posted by Taibbi show what one executive called a "whirlwind," as some of the platform's policy and trust and safety staffers questioned an initial decision to block sharing of the story for violating the platform's policy on distribution of hacked material. Whether the files on the laptop really belong to Hunter Biden is not certain.
One staffer warned, "We'll face hard questions on this if we don't have some type of solid reasoning." The lawyer for the company said it was reasonable for the social networking site to assume the material was stolen. Tech industry lobbyists and a Democratic member of congress gave advice to the executives of the social networking site.
The world learned about the incident from the so-calledTwitter Files. It wasn't much. Two days later, the moderation decision was reversed by the company. The thread gave fresh fodder for conspiracy theories that have swirled around the laptop saga, including the insinuation that government officials interfered to suppress the Post story.
The most important lesson from Taibbi's thread could be applied to Musk, who has taken to making big moderation decisions at the micro-blogging site.
In the past two weeks, Musk has restored the account of former US president Donald Trump, as well as unblocked a number of other users who were previously banned for violating the site's rules. The account of Ye was restricted in October after he posted an anti-Semitic message. Users can't post or interact with restricted accounts on the platform
Musk said this week that Ye would be suspended all over again after he posted a picture of a swastika. His reasoning, which academics and journalists have called out as unclear, was that the post was a violation of the rule against inciting violence on social media.