President Donald Trump’s White House is asking the public to report social media companies if they suspect ‘political bias’ resulted in their account being suspended or banned by platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Google, Facebook and Twitter for what he claims is bias in their treatment of conservatives – a theme he is likely to expound on during the 2020 election.
Now the White House wants data on the tech giants’s actions along with information on the user reporting them – including the person’s citizenship status and contact information.
The White House is asking the public to report social media companies if they suspect ‘political bias’ resulted in their account being suspended or banned
‘The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online. No matter your views, if you suspect political bias has caused you to be censored or silenced online, we want to hear about it!,’ the White House tweeted from its official account, which has 18.5 million followers.
The link takes the user to a form that asks for identifying information – including names and whether or not the person reporting a problem with their account is a U.S. citizen.
Additionally there is a request for an email address and an option to give your phone number.
‘SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear “violations” of user policies,’ the introduction to the form reads.
‘No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.’
The form asks which platform took action and gives the user the option to pick out Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Other.
It also requests details about what happened and whether a specific posting caused the issue.
Additionally, the form requests a screen shot of any notifications from the company.
There’s an option to stay informed about ‘President Trump’s fight for free speech’ via newsletters the user can opt in to receive.
And, finally, to prove the user is not a bot, the form requests: ‘One more thing, just to confirm you aren’t a robot. The Declaration of Independence was signed in what year?’
Tech companies have denied all accusations of bias.
But that hasn’t stopped the Republican drum beat, which included hauling tech executives before them on Capitol Hill to give them a verbal spanking.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee last year after notably skipping a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testified.
And Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testified last year before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Dorsey also met with Trump in the Oval Office in April where the president spent much of the meeting questioning Dorsey about why he had lost some Twitter followers and suggesting the platform is biased against conservatives, according to a source briefed on the meeting.
Dorsey explained that the company was working to remove fraudulent and spam accounts and that many famous people, including Dorsey himself, had lost followers as a result, the source said.
President Donald Trump tweeted this photo in April, showing his meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (right) and Twitter Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead Vijaya Gadde (right, foreground); also present were White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (3rd right) and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino (2nd right), and an unidentified man at left
The president considers Twitter his most important communications megaphone and credits its for much of his political success – he has 60.3 million followers – but accused the tech company in April of mistreating him.
He cited a Fox Business Network segment in which an analyst had said that ‘the best thing that ever happened to Twitter was Donald Trump.’
‘So true,’ the president tweeted, ‘but they don’t treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory, hard for people to sign on. Constantly taking people off list. Big complaints from many people. Different names-over 100 M … But should be much higher than that if Twitter wasn’t playing their political games.’
‘No wonder Congress wants to get involved,’ Trump added, ‘and they should. Must be more, and fairer, companies to get out the WORD!’
One of the conservatives leading the charge against the tech companies is InfoWar’s Alex Jones, who has been banned from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for violating the terms of service.
The companies argue he and others who have been given the boot violated rules on harassment and hate speech but were not targeted for their political opinions.
And, in March, White House social media director Dan Scavino accused Facebook of bias after it had blocked him from replying to comments on his personal Facebook page.
Facebook said happened because its systems had mistakenly flagged Scavino as a bot.
Additionally, Republican Congressman Rep. Devin Nunes has sued Twitter and three of its users for $250 million in damages.
He alleges he was defamed and that the social media platform engages in the ‘shadow-banning’ of conservative opinions – a charge Trump himself has made.