Trump Seeks Evidence of Social Media Censorship

The White House is trying to collect evidence of social media censorship and account takedowns, including tweets and screenshots of takedown notices. 

That is according to a tool on the White House website noted by Public Knowledge, which is no fan of the effort, saying it raises constitutional issues. 

From the White House's social media 'censorship' reporting form

From the White House's social media 'censorship' reporting form

Related: Trump Meets With Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey 

A number of Republicans have been complaining about alleged social media platform censorship of conservative speech, including the President and Sens. Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn. 

The President has accused edge providers, including Twitter in particular because he is a frequent user, of a bias against conservatives. "I have many, many followers on Twitter and it's different than it used to be," he has said. "Things are happening. Names are taken off. People aren't getting through," he told Daily Caller. "It seems to be if they are conservative, if they're Republicans, if they are a certain group, there's discrimination. I see it absolutely on Twitter, and Facebook and others," though he said he focused on "the one platform [Twitter]." 

"SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear 'violations' of user policies," the White House website tool says. "No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump." 

Public Knowledge has its own story to tell about social media.

"Platforms should treat their users fairly and respect norms of due process," said senior counsel John Bergmayer. "But online services have no obligation to provide a platform for content that violates their terms of service; in fact, a more pressing problem than alleged 'censorship' of any particular viewpoint is the proliferation of misinformation, propaganda, hate speech, terrorist content, and harassment online. This misguided effort by the White House raises serious constitutional questions and could hamper the ability of platforms to moderate their platforms and take down such content. 

“To the extent that particular constituencies feel that their viewpoints do not get a fair hearing, we would welcome efforts from the Trump Administration to increase platform competition through the vigorous application of antitrust laws, interoperability initiatives, and similar endeavors.”


John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.