Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that his company deplatformed the Hunter Biden story because of FBI warnings. He claimed that the warnings did not specifically refer to the Hunter Biden story, but that something big was coming.
The FBI responded with a non-denial.
In a statement Friday night, the FBI said it has provided companies with “foreign threat indicators” to help protect their platforms and customers, but that it “cannot ask, or direct, companies to take action on information received.”
“The FBI routinely notifies U.S. private sector entities, including social media providers, of potential threat information, so that they can decide how to better defend against threats,” the agency said.
Meta on Friday night responded to the FBI statement via Twitter. “The FBI shared general warnings about foreign interference — nothing specific about Hunter Biden,” the statement said.
This is, in expected fashion, meaningless.
As I wrote after Zuckerberg’s comments, this is an exercise in plausible deniability for all sides. The FBI’s warnings were vague, yet correctly timed. Were some personnel in the FBI trying to help Biden way by getting out ahead of the Hunter Biden story? Probably. But good luck proving it. Did Facebook’s people use a general FBI warning as a justification for censoring conservative stories? Quite likely.
Both sides get plausible deniability.
And the letter by former “intelligence community” Democrats with CNN and MSNBC contracts provided the glue by claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop was a Russian op.
Much like the original Russiagate smear, it’s a slick operation composed of interlocking components, but with even smoother plausible deniability. All the different components do what they’re supposed to without any of them appearing to be coordinating or to have violated anything. That’s much slicker than Russiagate. But the other side learns. It can learn fairly quickly under enough pressure. A sustained investigation with a focus on granular details might take the plausible deniability apart, but it would have to happen first.