- President Trump called vaguely for action to be taken against social media companies, saying “we have to do something.”
- At a press conference, the president repeated allegations, without proof, of anti-conservative bias by Facebook,Twitter, and Google, a popular right-wing talking point.
- The companies in question deny they have any bias against conservative users.
US President Donald Trump has said “we have to do something” about social media.
On Tuesday, at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, the reality TV star-turned-politician was asked about the potential liability of social media firms for content uploaded to their platforms.
In response, Trump talked vaguely about the need to take action against tech companies like Facebook and Twitter, alleging they are biased against conservatives – a frequent right-wing talking point that is strongly challenged by the companies in question.
“It seems to be, if they’re conservative, if they’re Republicans, if they’re in a certain group, there’s discrimination … I see it absolutely on Twitter, and Facebook which I have also, and others I see” – adding, without evidence, that there is “collusion” between the big tech companies on the issue.
In practice, social media services have provided an huge platform for conservative voices.
Fox News is consistently the most popular news outlet on Facebook, analysis from NewsWhip found, while right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro’s page drives some of the most user engagement on the platform. YouTube, meanwhile, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent months over how its algorithms can drive users towards ever-more extreme views, indoctrinating them into the racist far-right.
And Trump’s public criticism of Facebook hasn’t stopped his campaign from using the service as a way to reach voters ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. The president’s campaign has spent more on Facebook advertising to date than every other potential 2020 candidate combined.
Trump also used the opportunity on Tuesday to take shots at another favourite target of his – television news networks.
“Something’s happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter, and I do think we have to get to the bottom of it. It’s very fair, it’s collusive, and it’s very very fair to day that we have to do something about it,” he said.
“And if we don’t – you know, the incredible thing is we can win an election and we have such a stacked deck, and that include networks. Frankly, if you look at the networks, if you look at the news, you look at the newscasts – I call it ‘fake news,’ I’m very proud to hear the president use the term ‘fake news’ – but you look at what’s happening with the networks, you look at what’s happening with different shows, and it’s hard to believe we win.”
He added: “But you know, I’ll tell you what: It really shows the people are smart. The people get it. They will go through all of whatever it is they’re fed and in the end they pull the right lever. It’s a very, very dangerous situation, so I think I agree something has to be looked at very closely.”
Here’s a clip of the question and answer, via Yahoo News:
President Trump says "we have to do something" about social media, alleging, without evidence, that "names are taken off" and "people aren't getting through" and that "there is collusion" pic.twitter.com/a83WcjIFpG
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) March 19, 2019
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