The White House has drafted an executive order for President Donald Trump’s signature that would instruct federal antitrust and law enforcement agencies to open probes into the practices of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc., and other social media companies.
The order is in its preliminary stages and hasn’t yet been run past other government agencies, said a White House official. Bloomberg News obtained a draft of the order.
The document instructs U.S. antitrust authorities to “thoroughly investigate whether any online platform has acted in violation of the antitrust laws.” It instructs other government agencies to recommend within a month after it’s signed, actions that could potentially “protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias.”
The document doesn’t name any companies. If signed, the order would represent a significant escalation of Trump’s aversion to Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies, whom he’s publicly accused of silencing conservative voices and news sources online.
The press offices of Google, Facebook and Twitter didn’t respond Saturday to emails and telephone calls requesting comment.
“Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices,” Trump said on Twitter in August. “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.”
Social media companies have acknowledged in congressional hearings that their efforts to enforce prohibitions against online harassment have sometimes led to erroneous punishment of political figures on both the left and the right, and that once discovered, those mistakes have been corrected. They say there’s no systematic effort to silence conservative voices.
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SOURCE: Boston Globe; Bloomberg, Ben Brody and Jennifer Jacobs