President Trump has claimed for months that Silicon Valley giants are biased against conservatives, threatening antitrust investigations and fuming that his Twitter following would otherwise be well above 62 million. The grudges didnt stop him, however, from buying Facebook ads for his campaign or suggesting that social media companies team with his administration to help prevent mass shootings.
The moves have sent conflicting signals to some of Americas best-known and most valuable companies, including Google, leaving them unsure what to expect. The administrations proposal of working with social media “just seems disingenuous, given how the president has treated the tech companies in recent months,” said Clint Watts, a distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and former FBI special agent.
“He had a social media summit and he didn’t invite them, he’s battled them on claims of bias without evidence. Speaking from the White House after back-to-back attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left dozens dead, the president issued a call to “shine light on the dark recesses of the Internet” and directed the Justice Department to work with all levels of government and social media companies “to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike.
” The president didn’t detail what those tools may look like, but the White House on Friday convened a meeting with tech giants to further discuss how algorithms can be used to scour posts on social media and identify possible shooters before they attack. White House spokesman Judd Deere said after the meeting the White House is urging online companies “to continue their efforts in addressing violent extremism and helping individuals at risk, and to do so without compromising free speech.
” Trump’s request came on the heels of a solicitation from the FBI for “the services of a company to proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests through a means of online sources.” The “mission-critical exploitation of social media will enable the bureau to detect disrupt, and investigate an ever-growing diverse range of threats to U.
S. national interests,” the FBI said in its request. Facebook already uses artificial intelligence and human moderators to identify and remove harmful content, while Twitter employs technology to flag accounts that post abusive content, efforts that spurred claims by Trump and his supporters that firms are using such capabilities to silence Republicans.
The president has also accused Twitter of surreptitiously reducing the number of his followers. His White House has solicited bias complaints from consumers, and the president vowed during a recent social media summit with conservative activists to “explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free.