Conservatives have long lamented the liberal bias held by the creators of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media giants whose algorithms control what you see and when you see it. Seemingly innocuous postings lead to post blocks and account suspensions, leading many on the right to wonder exactly what motivates the bigwigs to censor certain content.
The issue has become so prevalent in our society that even President Donald Trump has taken notice, and has promised to correct the issue by considering “all regulatory and legislative solutions” available to him.
According to Politico, citing sources in the White House, one of these potential solutions comes in the form of an executive order.
None of the three would describe the contents of the order, which one person cautioned has already taken many different forms and remains in flux. But its existence, and the deliberations surrounding it, are evidence that the administration is taking a serious look at wielding the federal government’s power against Silicon Valley.
“If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system,” one White House official explained. “But look, we also think that social media plays a vital role. They have a vital role and an increasing responsibility to the culture that has helped make them so profitable and so prominent.”
“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,” said another.
Because nobody is willing to discuss the content of the order, likely because it is changing so rapidly, nobody knows what penalties – if any – social media giants will face if they are caught deliberately targeting a user for political reasons. It’s also unknown if this action will actually mitigate anti-conservative bias, or if it will simply drive the companies to embed it deeper in the algorithm.
But there are those in the government who are skeptical about the promised action against big tech, warning the president away from “direct action” against these companies. According to John Morris, who worked at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration handling policy issues, Trump should not move to impose action against the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
“There’s very little in terms of direct regulation the federal government can do without congressional action, and frankly I think that’s a positive thing. Although the government may be able to support and assist online platforms’ efforts to reduce hate and violence online, the government should not try to impose speech regulations on private platforms. As politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have historically urged, the government should not be in the business of regulating speech.”
It will be interesting to see how this all turns out because Silicon Valley will undoubtedly take the federal government to court over any regulations, demanding to keep their vice-like grip on the information we consume.
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