by Thomas Catenacci
Twitter defended its decision allowing users to share articles that cite hacked information about people who donated to the 18-year-old accused of killing protesters in Wisconsin last summer.
The content did not violate the company’s distribution of hack materials policy because it does not directly link to the hacked information, a Twitter spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. The content in question would have been removed if hacked materials were shared in a tweet or in an image tweeted, according to Twitter.
“This policy only addresses instances in which the materials themselves are being distributed — not discussions of or reporting about hacking which refer to but do not embed or link to the materials themselves,” a Twitter spokesperson told the DCNF in a statement Tuesday.
The Daily Dot and The Guardian both published articles in the past week citing information received directly from hackers who breached GiveSendGo, a crowdfunding site that hosted a legal defense fund for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old charged with killing two protesters and injuring another in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August. Both articles were widely shared on Twitter.
US police and public officials donated to Kyle Rittenhouse, data breach reveals https://t.co/l02GVYTIO7
— The Guardian (@guardian) April 16, 2021
The group known as Distributed Denial of Secrets hacked the GiveSendGo, obtaining private information about many of the individuals who gave money to Rittenhouse’s legal defense, according to The Guardian. That information was then shared to news outlets.
The Guardian’s article listed the names of donors, some of whom are public officials. Information was shared about individuals who gave as little as $10.
On Tuesday, a Norfolk, Virginia police officer referenced in The Guardian’s article was fired from his job, according to WAVY News. The officer donated $25 to Rittenhouse.
“Tweets referring to a hack or discussing hacked materials would not be considered a violation of this policy unless materials associated with the hack are directly distributed in the text of a Tweet, in an image shared on Twitter, or in links to hacked content hosted on other websites,” the Twitter spokesperson told the DCNF.
The spokesperson also referenced Twitter’s decision last year to alter its hacked content policy. In October, Twitter announced it would no longer remove hacked content unless it was “directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them” and would label tweets with “context.”
Twitter censored and cracked down on users who shared a New York Post story in October, which reported that it had obtained emails showing President Joe Biden and his son met with a Ukrainian gas company executive in 2015. The social media company said at the time that it had banned sharing the Post’s story on its platform because it referenced hacked information.
Twitter suspended the Post’s Twitter account after the news outlet refused to remove a tweet linking the story. The Post’s account was finally reactivated on Oct. 30, weeks after Twitter changed its hacked content policy.
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Thomas Catenacci is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.