On Thursday, the official Trump Campaign twitter account was temporarily suspended after it tweeted a link to a NY Post about Hunter Biden and former Vice President Joe Biden’s connection to Ukraine. Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman joins The Final Round to discuss the details.
SEANA SMITH: Welcome back to The Final Round. Twitter earlier today restricting the official account for President Trump's re-election campaign. They said that a video from the campaign's account about Joe Biden's son violated its rules. Now, to recap all this, it all goes back to that story that Rick mentioned on the air yesterday from "The New York Post" on Hunter Biden's emails. Facebook and Twitter both taking steps shortly after that story was published to restrict the story's spread. Of course, there's questions just about the credibility of the report.
But Rick, this is certainly sparking outrage, I guess we can say, at the least, and getting criticized heavily from Republicans. I'm talking about the move from Facebook and Twitter to do this. And then we also have Senator Ted Cruz saying that the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over this.
RICK NEWMAN: Yeah, Twitter is aflame, it's fair to say, today with conservative outrage over what it's been doing, Facebook getting slammed as well. You know, so the deal-- the deal with this "New York Post" story, Twitter and Facebook are not objecting so much to the content of the story, but the fact that there was a photo that went with the story of this email account that shows what I guess used to be Hunter Biden's old email address, and also the email address of at least one Ukrainian. And Twitter has a policy against publishing personal contact information like that against people's will.
So that's the reason Twitter is giving for restricting access to this site. But they're trying to figure out exactly what's going on. You know what, it's really-- I think it's really worth pointing out, "The New York Post" could just take that photo down or else just block out the email address, and then Twitter would have no objection to it. So that would really solve the problem. I'm not aware that the "Post" has done that or wants to. Facebook is saying they're trying to do third-party fact-checking on this story.
And this thing with the Senate Judiciary Committee now indicating they want to subpoena Jack Dorsey, the Twitter CEO, I don't think that's a negative for Twitter, because I don't really think it's about Twitter. I think what Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee want to do is have yet another reason to be shouting about Hunter Biden during the last couple of weeks of this election campaign. And if this doesn't happen before November 3, my prediction is it won't happen because that's the whole purpose.
They probably just want Jack Dorsey to sit there, you know, nodding silently while they fulminate about Hunter Biden. You know, Twitter is not-- they don't face quite the risk of antitrust action as the bigger tech companies Facebook, Google, and so forth. So you know, we are in the last couple of weeks of what has already been an ugly campaign, and it's-- it's going to get uglier, we've been saying that, and it is getting uglier.
AKIKO FUJITA: Rick, there is another element to this which Twitter has cited, which is the violation of its Hacked Materials Policy. And if you look back to what Facebook's security director has said just a few weeks ago when they took down a number of accounts that were linked to Russian military intelligence, they talked about the potential for hack and leaks leading up to the election, potential for state actors to do that, and then sort of dump them in the way that we saw back in 2016 with Hillary Clinton's emails.
And so that adds another layer to the questions around disinformation surrounding this election. And so that's another, I think, concern that we should be looking to, because right now we don't know where the information came from. We don't even know if those emails are real. There's still a lot of questions about just the verification of this story and the details around it.
RICK NEWMAN: Yeah. Well, I mean, we do know that it was published by "The New York Post." What we don't know is whether "The New York Post" kind of got set up, because they supposedly got this information from Rudy Giuliani, who is known to consort with at least one person who is considered a Russian intelligent agent, and so forth. But you're totally right, Akiko, that Facebook and Twitter, and I think we could probably add YouTube to this, are extremely alert about, you know, abuse of their platforms during this election, perhaps bordering on paranoid.
But even paranoid would be a lot better than in 2016 when they did-- they didn't even know what was going on in their sites. And we know now there were just thousands of fake accounts and reposts of bogus material and things that we really didn't understand until well after the election. So they're trying to make sure that doesn't happen this time.
And I would point out, if Trump wins re-election, they are taking considerable risk, because they are infuriating Trump. And we know that he will use the government to go after companies he doesn't like. And they're already in the crosshairs, at least Facebook in particular, for antitrust concerns, also this question about liability in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, whether that should be changed. They do face some real regulatory risk, no matter who wins, and it's going to be higher, for sure, if Trump wins re-election.
SEANA SMITH: It certainly will be. And it's interesting when you take a look at the stock's reaction today, because they were both under pressure earlier, but Twitter actually closing in the green, which I think surprised some people on the Street today. But Facebook, under pressure, off just around 2%.