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Facebook, Twitter and Instagram say ‘tolerate’ sexual harassment policies

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Joe Biden speaks during a Democratic Policy and Communications Committee town hall on Friday, June 8, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (Daniel Nickerson/Office of the Vice President)

The Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of Vice President Mike Pence’s daughter and others affiliated with the vice president on Monday both posted statements distancing themselves from his social media director, at the center of a POLITICO report in which Hunter Biden said she and his mother-in-law once became targets of sexual harassment from former White House staffer John Weichel.

Hunter Biden, who announced on Monday that he would run for Senate in Delaware in 2020, also told POLITICO that Weichel made unwanted sexual advances on her when she was 23-years-old, as she first reported in her book “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.” Hunter Biden said that he thought his mother, Hallie Biden, “was the victim here” and had “misremembered.”

In separate statements, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram said Monday night that they “will continue to make clear to employees the serious consequences of sexual harassment and assault.”

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, “Our minimum expectations for employees around the world are that they abide by our guidelines, as well as local laws, in all countries. It’s also important to note that these policies are not just for Facebook. It applies to platforms and organizations such as ours, including those in the media.”

President Donald Trump had earlier made a series of appearances attacking POLITICO on Twitter, calling the reporting “disgusting” and asserting that the report was a “large scale plot” to undermine him.

Facebook later said that under the social network’s policies “Sexual harassment or assault is completely unacceptable, and we can’t tolerate behavior that doesn’t meet our standards. When this is brought to our attention, we take it seriously and are working quickly to investigate.”

Per Instagram’s policies, it can be considered a form of abuse and a violation of the site’s policies when “individuals make unwanted sexual advances or sexually intimate comments in a nonconsensual manner or while broadcasting publicly.”

“Instagram has zero tolerance for harassment, we investigate all cases and we will take swift action,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

And Twitter said that it had also “zero tolerance for harassment on our platform.”

“We work constantly to improve Twitter,” the company said in a statement. “We know this is a complicated problem, so let me assure you we are hard at work. If there are changes we can make to protect the safety of people on Twitter, we will do so.”

Vice President Pence and Weichel have both previously denied the allegations made in the book.

Twitter said that the reporting from POLITICO “was never corroborated and does not match Twitter’s own internal investigation, which was prompted by the book.”

“We have internal rules and conduct policies to ensure safety on Twitter and will enforce them swiftly,” the company said.

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