The White House aides are trading paper on a possible executive order meant to counter President Trump’s claim of conservative bias in social media and Internet searches.
The action comes after Trump and conservative lawmakers have blasted tech firms for allegedly discriminating against conservatives in their platforms – and the president issued a warning to Google that he is watching the firm ‘very closely.’
A White House official called Twitter ‘liberal cesspools of venom’ and described the potential order as an effort to restore ‘fairness in the system,’ according to Politico. Tech firms ‘have a vital role and an increasing responsibility to the culture that has helped make them so profitable and so prominent.’
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at El Paso International Airport in El Paso, Texas, August 7, 2019, as he travels to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, following last weekends mass shootings. White House aides say an executive order is in the work to deal with alleged conservative bias in social media platforms
The details were not immediately available, but any order seeking to impose restrictions on how the companies operate to allow Americans to produce and consume information is certain to draw a response from Big Tech’s team of corporate lawyers.
If could easily face a court challenge on constitutional grounds.
But such a move would carry out the president’s wish to take a look at the issue.
“The President announced at this month’s social media summit that we were going to address this and the administration is exploring all policy solutions,’ another White House official told the publication.
Trump met with a hand-picked group of conservative media figures at the White House last month and pledged to look at ‘all regulatory and legislative solutions’ to the situation.
The move could be impacted by the debates over last weekend’s mass shootings. Trump called on tech firms to ‘develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike,’ and also blasted violent video games and elements of the culture at large.
A series of shooters, including the El Paso suspect, have used the Internet to broadcast warped manifestos before carrying out their deeds.
Trump this week tore into search giant Google and its CEO Tuesday, touting claims that it worked to undermine his 2016 election and saying he was watching the company ‘very closely.’
Trump issued the warning to the tech behemoth amid a legislative push to regulate big tech, and his own repeated claims that forces are arrayed against him in the elections.
He claimed its boss, CEO Sundar Pichai, had groveled to him on how well the administration was performing.
The attack on Google came a day after he blamed social media as one of the reasons for mass shootings, in a speech which also took aim at online forums and the internet as causing a ‘culture of violence.’
Trump began his Twitter blasts at the company by claiming its chief executive officer had sought to flatter him, in a likely reference to a meeting held last month at the White House with Pichai and other tech executives.
‘@sundarpichai of Google was in the Oval Office working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing, that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election, and that they…are NOT planning to illegally subvert the 2020 Election despite all that has been said to the contrary,’ Trump tweeted.
‘It all sounded good until I watched Kevin Cernekee, a Google engineer, say terrible things about what they did in 2016 and that they want to ‘Make sure that Trump losses [sic]…in 2020,’ Trump continued.
Outspoken: Fired Google engineer Kevin Cernekee told Fox Business Network: ‘When President Trump won in 2016, Google executives went up on stage right away and cried, literally tears streaming down their faces over the fact that President Trump won.’
Trump and conservative lawmakers accuse Google of discriminating against conservatives in search
Lawmakers brought in Facebook execs and other big tech firms this year to discuss the possibility of regulation
He was referencing a segment on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business Network, which was broadcast Monday, where Cernekee promoted the theory that Google suppressed positive search results on Trump and promoted negative news about him.
He also touted an appearance by ‘Clinton cash’ author Peter Schweizer.
‘@peterschweizer stated with certainty that they suppressed negative stories on Hillary Clinton, and boosted negative stories on Donald Ttump [sic]. All very illegal. We are watching Google very closely!’ Trump wrote. The tweet included a typo when it referenced Trump’s name.
Cernekee, a former Google engineer, told Dobbs on Monday: ‘When President Trump won in 2016, Google executives went up on stage right away and cried, literally tears streaming down their faces over the fact that President Trump won.
‘They vowed that it would never happen again, and they want to use all of the power and all the resources that they have to control the flow of information to the public and make sure that Trump loses in 2020.’
Cernekee was fired from Google in 2018. He claims he was subjected to ‘bullying’ due to his conservative political posture. Google denies his claim.
Hours earlier, Trump had tweeted out a clip of Schweizer telling Dobbs about Google: ‘They suppressed negative stories about Hillary Clinton and they boosted negative stories about Donald Trump.’
Schweizer also said that in 2016 Google didn’t feel like it had to ‘tip the scale all that much’ and predicted the firm would go ‘all-in’ in 2020.
Last year, Trump issued a similar threat, and claimed the firm’s search results were ‘RIGGED.’
Google issued a statement denying the charge in 2018, which online search experts also have said is untrue.
‘Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,’ it said.
‘Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries.
‘We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.’
The election result did cause upset inside Google. During a company meeting immediately after the election, several execs said they had backed Hillary Clinton but sought to reassure employees.
Said co-founder Sergey Brin at the meeting: ‘Myself as an immigrant and a refugee, I certainly find the selection deeply offensive and I know many of you do too … I think it’s a very stressful time and conflicts with many of our values.’
Trump claimed Google’s CEO during a White House meeting was ‘working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing’
Tensions between Silicon Valley and Trump and the Republican party over what the right claims is anti-conservative bias on Google and social media platforms have been growing.
One pro-Trump senator has brought forward draft legislation which would limit social media companies’ ability to produce ‘endless scrolls.’
And Republican members of Congress have repeatedly questioned executives on allegations of bias.
They have asked whether Google News results are rigged in favor of liberal outlets, and whether Twitter in particular has selectively censored conservative views.
Trump himself has railed against Twitter, claiming it has made it difficult for users to follow him, although the platform denies that is the case.
In July Trump publicly endorsed a claim by controversial Paypal founder Peter Thiel that Google was working with the Chinese military rather than the U.S. military, which Thiel called ‘seemingly treasonous.’
But Trump’s Treasruy Secretary Steven Mnuchin walked back that claim, which was made at a conservative conference.
Mnuchin told CNBC: ‘We’re not aware of any areas where Google is working with the Chinese government that in any way raises concerns.’