Back in October, Twitter temporarily blocked a New York Post story that was reportedly based on materials taken from a laptop owned by Hunter Biden. The story’s dubious sourcing and suspicious timing led to widespread skepticism, and Twitter decided to temporarily ban links to the story under its policy against sharing “hacked materials.” Now, the computer shop owner who allegedly discovered the materials on Biden’s laptop is suing the social media giant for defamation, and he wants $500 million.
Of all the content moderation debacles of the last year, Twitter’s decision to block the New York Post’s story—headlined “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad”—has had the longest-lasting impact. Twitter reacted quickly and blocked the distribution of the link before ultimately deciding to let it run free. While the link was prohibited, Twitter told the public that it believed the article ran afoul of its rules against “distribution of hacked material.” The rules have now changed and most people have moved on.
John Paul Mac Isaac was the owner of the Mac Shop where a computer allegedly owned by Hunter Biden was dropped off for routine data recovery. On Monday, he filed a lawsuit against Twitter in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. According to Isaac’s story, Biden never picked up the laptop or paid his invoice. That meant Biden forfeited ownership of the computer as per a repair agreement, and Isaac claims in the suit that he was in contact with the FBI and an attorney for Rudy Giuliani about materials he’d discovered on the laptop that he found suspicious. No legal action has materialized from the situation, but the New York Post ran a story about it. (Biden is reportedly under federal investigation, but there is no clear connection to the laptop.) Isaac claims he was unaware the Post had this material, which it claimed to have received from Guiliani. Since then, Isaac says that he’s faced a flood of negative reviews online for his now-closed shop and endured death threats.
Isaac believes Twitter is responsible for creating a public perception that he’s an untrustworthy hacker, and he’s seeking $500 million in damages, coverage of legal costs, and a public retraction “of all false statements” from Twitter.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
You can read the full complaint below.