This afternoon, President Donald Trump once again accused Google, Facebook, and Twitter of vaguely defined censorship that “may not be legal,” but said “we’re just going to see” whether the platforms should be regulated. The president was responding to a reporter’s question about a series of tweets from yesterday, where Trump called Google search results “rigged” against him. As evidence of platform bias, Trump broadly cited cases where he had lost followers on social media accounts, saying, “I can tell you when things are different.”
Trump said yesterday that Google was “taking advantage of a lot of people,” and that Google, Facebook, and Twitter were treading on “troubled territory.” He got slightly more specific today, mostly in the form of alternately bragging and complaining about his social media following.
“I think that Google and Facebook and Twitter, I think they treat conservatives and Republicans very unfairly. I could tell you that I have personal experience. I have a lot of people on the various platforms,” he said, citing a total following of 160 million accounts across different platforms. “That’s a lot of people. But I can tell you when things are different. And all of a sudden you lose people and you say, ‘Where did they go?’ They’ve taken off.”
Trump allowed that he didn’t know if “the other side” experienced similar losses. “I think it’s a very serious problem, because they’re really trying to silence a very large part of this country, and those people don’t want to be silenced,” he said, regardless. “It’s not right, it’s not fair, it may not be legal, but we’ll see, we just want fairness.”
Asked whether “fairness” referred to regulation, Trump said, “We’re just going to see. You know what we want, not regulation, we want fairness. When we have fairness we’re all very happy, but you’re talking about a tremendous amount of… I mean, I’m president. They got me here. You’re talking about a tremendous number of people we want to see fairness.”
While you’d never know it from this statement, the “censorship” charges against Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all fairly different. Trump’s main complaint here seems to be losing followers on Twitter, which is suspending large numbers of apparent spam accounts. That’s completely different from his complaint about Google, which he claims is manipulating its algorithms to display a disproportionate amount of negative news coverage about him. Trump hasn’t talked as much about Facebook, but a few Congress members have complained about conservative publishers getting less page traffic than usual — without, however, providing evidence that this isn’t part of a larger traffic slump for all publishers.
Trump’s “fairness” answer suggests he’s not all that interested in investigating these claims. But as he notes, Facebook, Twitter, and Google will appear before Congress next week, and legislators have talked about changing the law to force platforms to be more politically neutral.
Photo Credit: WWAY