President Donald Trump is considering forming a panel to investigate social media companies for bias, especially any unfairness toward accounts with conservative viewpoints.
Trump is contemplating establishing a White House commission to check social media platforms for anti-conservative bias, according to the Wall Street Journal. The panel will reportedly investigate complaints of censorship and suppression of conservative voices on social media, including allegations of throttling and shadow-banning.
“Left-wing bias in the tech world is a concern that definitely needs to be addressed from our vantage point,” a White House official told the WSJ. “And at least exposed [so] that Americans have clear eyes about what we’re dealing with.”
On May 16, Trump tweeted: “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation.”
The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events. Thank you Michelle! https://t.co/ZQfcfD3Hk9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020
Trump has accused social media companies of bias against conservatives for years.
“Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others,” Trump tweeted in August 2018. “Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people.”
“I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms,” Trump wrote on Twitter last May. “This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!”
Right before the White House Social Media Summit that was held last July, Trump accused social media companies of practicing “tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression.” He added, “We will not let them get away with it much longer.”
Last May, Trump said his administration was “looking into” bias against conservatives. “It’s getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media,” the president said. “Big attacks on Republicans and Conservatives by Social Media. Not good,” he continued.
Trump has yet to take any action against social media companies. However, a White House commission could have government clout if there is evidence that social media companies are censoring conservative accounts. The panel would work in conjunction with agencies like the Federal Elections Commission and Federal Communications Commission.
Twitter responded to the report with a statement that read: “We enforce the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation. We are constantly working to improve our systems and will continue to be transparent and in regular communication with elected officials in regard to our efforts.”
Facebook Inc., which also owns Instagram, reacted by saying: “People on both sides of the aisle disagree with some of the positions we’ve taken, but we remain committed to seeking outside perspectives and communicating clearly about why we make the decisions we do.”
Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. declined to comment.
Last April during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Republican senators alleged that Google, Facebook, and Twitter discriminate conservative viewpoints and suppress free speech.
“If we have tech companies using the powers of monopoly to censor political speech, I think that raises real antitrust issues,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said during the hearing.