The emergence of a draft executive order that proposed referring cases of anti-conservative bias among tech companies to the Justice Department had worried Google and Facebook. However, the latest reports indicate that the draft was not real.
The executive order
With President Trump being very vocal against tech giants like Facebook and Google for being prejudiced against conservative opinions, the companies were afraid that the president might take strict action against them.
By the third week of September, media outlets had started reporting that President Trump was considering an executive order to control companies suspected of anti-conservative bias. A draft of the order was also circulated on the Internet, which only added to the speculation.
But as news of the draft order reached the White House, officials distanced themselves from the document, claiming that it was not their creation and that no executive order to control tech firms was currently under the consideration of President Trump.
“Although the White House is concerned about the conduct of online platforms and their impact on society, this document is not the result of an official White House policymaking process,” The Washington Post quotes Lindsay Walters, the deputy White House press secretary. Two White House aides also added in that the policies outlined in the document was unworkable.
An anti-conservative bias?
Despite the reports of the nonexistence of the executive order, it is no secret that President Trump is angry at tech companies like Google and Facebook, which are accused of censoring information that speaks positively on conservative ideologies.
“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?” President Trump had tweeted in August.
Critics of President Trump say that he is simply sprouting accusations against the media like he regularly does in his tweets. However, a report from Gizmodo states that curators at Google regularly suppressed conservative news reports from the social network’s influential trending news section. Instead, if the curators found a news item that projected a liberal ideology, they would inject it into the trending stream.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is… Every once in a while a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased,” Gizmodo quotes a former curator.
Given that almost 167 million people in the U.S. use Facebook, the influence of liberal curators only goes on to cloud the thinking of the American public. An example of the problem of such curation is the injection of BlackLivesMatter news into the trending topics section even though it did not actually have the popularity to trend.
Conversely, Fox News Channel’s bias is widely believed to be conservative and has shown itself to be particularly friendly to President Trump, despite its slogan of being “fair and balanced.”
By indulging in these activities, companies and news outlets are giving President Trump a good reason to actually pass an executive order that would track and punish such activities. After all, a democracy can only exist when all opinions are heard. Freedom of expression is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, but claiming to be a neutral platform while voicing a bias, be it liberal or conservative, is fraudulent.