President Donald Trump’s latest grievance is with Google, a company he thinks is censoring search results to favor left-wing media outlets. Over the course of the last two days and starting with Trump’s parroting of a Fox News segment about Google search result bias, the president has intensified his criticism of Silicon Valley — not just Google, but Facebook and Twitter as well. The ensuing news cycle has been befuddling to say the least, as reporters, White House staff and members of Congress scramble to make sense of Trump’s increasingly misleading and unfounded claims of persecution. Here’s the latest updates on Trump’s war against the tech platforms.
Sep 25, 2018
Google CEO Sundar Pichai is headed to Washington this week to discuss censorship and China
Google CEO Sundar Pichai will be present at a private meeting with top Republican lawmakers this Friday to discuss the company’s controversial plans to relaunch a search product in China and perceived liberal bias of search results, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.Read Article >
Last month, President Donald Trump kicked off a largely unfounded controversy, based on a misleading Fox News report, over censorship of conservative viewpoints in Google Search. Republicans have since latched onto the theory as a way to increase pressure on Silicon Valley over its largely liberal workforce and what are perceived to be actions taken exclusively to punish high-profile conservatives.
Aug 31, 2018
Trump says Amazon, Facebook, and Google represent a ‘very antitrust situation’
President Donald Trump continued his war of words against technology companies for a third day in a row, this time telling Bloomberg News in an Oval Office interview this afternoon that he sees the power and influence of companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google as a “very antitrust situation.” Trump began his heightened criticism of Silicon Valley starting on Tuesday by criticizing Google for alleged skewing of search results in favor of left-wing media organizations, after watching a related Fox News segment that cited deeply flawed study results.Read Article >
“I won’t comment on the breaking up, of whether it’s that or Amazon or Facebook,” Trump said, replying to a question on whether tech companies like Facebook and Google should be regulated and potentially broken up by the US government. “As you know, many people think it is a very antitrust situation, the three of them. But I just, I won’t comment on that.” Trump reiterated his claim that “conservatives have been treated very unfairly” by Google. “I tell you there are some moments where we say, ’Wow that really is bad, what they’re doing,’” he added.
Aug 30, 2018
Sen. Orrin Hatch is telling the FTC to investigate Google after Trump’s ‘bias’ attacks
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potential anti-competitive effects in Google’s search and digital advertising practices shortly after President Donald Trump made several unfounded or false claims about anti-conservative bias on Google search.Read Article >
Hatch sent FTC chairman Joseph Simons a letter today in which he expressed concern about “recent reports on Google’s search and digital advertising practices.” Hatch’s letter cites a variety of “disquieting” reports. He mentions a May 60 Minutes segment that highlighted Google’s massive size and power over other web companies, as well as a July controversy over third-party app developers who were given access to Gmail message content. He also mentioned that Google has “decided to remove from its platforms legal businesses that the company apparently does not agree with” — which could be a reference to Google blocking gun sales from its shopping platform, blocking ads from disreputable drug and alcohol treatment centers, or simply banning YouTube channels.
Aug 29, 2018
Trump’s latest misleading attack on Google, explained
President Donald Trump intensified his criticism of Google today, posting a native video of unknown origin to his Twitter account this afternoon claiming the search giant stopped promoting the State of the Union (SOTU) address on its homepage after he took office. It turns out the video he posted is not only misleading, but also contains what appears to be a fake or misleading screenshot of the Google homepage on the day in question. The video has since been viewed more than 3.5 million times.Read Article >
As Gizmodo notes, however, whoever made the video could have simply pulled a screenshot of the Google homepage for that date from the Wayback Machine prior to the start of the address, thereby misleading people into thinking Google never promoted it. The Internet Archive, the non-profit organization that manages the Wayback Machine, said it was able to find multiple instances of the Google homepage that day displaying a link to 2018 SOTU:
Trump claims he’s losing social media followers because of Google, Facebook, and Twitter censorship
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.”Read Article >
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.
Trump keeps threatening tech companies, but he’s terrible at following through
Yesterday, President Donald Trump tweeted that Google search was artificially promoting “left-wing media” writing negative stories about him. Trump promised that the situation “will be addressed,” and his economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the White House was “taking a look” at whether Google needs to be regulated. Later, he issued more veiled threats, saying that web platforms “better be careful” as they’re “treading on very, very troubled territory.”Read Article >
These sound like big threats, and regulating search engine behavior would be a huge deal, especially since Trump has virtually no evidence that search is “rigged.” And the Trump administration has sabotaged tech companies with harsh immigration limits and erratic trade policy. But Trump also has a history of offhandedly accusing big tech companies of crimes or threatening them with political consequences, then dropping the issue.
Aug 28, 2018
Trump says Google, Twitter, and Facebook are on ‘troubled territory’ and ‘better be careful’
President Donald Trump has made more veiled threats toward Google and other web platforms, after tweeting this morning that Google had “rigged” its search results to suppress positive news about him. Trump told reporters during an Oval Office press meeting that Google, Facebook, and Twitter were “treading on very, very troubled territory,” and that they had “better be careful, because you can’t do that to people.” Trump stopped short of describing any specific political consequences, but he asserted, “I think Google is really taking advantage of a lot of people, and I think that’s a very serious thing, and it’s a very serious charge.”Read Article >
Trump made his original remarks on Twitter early this morning, apparently based on a loosely reported PJ Media article claiming that Google overrepresented liberal outlets in Google News. He didn’t give any more factual details in this afternoon’s response to a reporter, which is printed below in full.
Aug 28, 2018
Trump claims Google is suppressing positive news about him and ‘will be addressed’
The perceived left-wing bias of big tech companies has become a major talking point for conservatives. This morning on Twitter, President Trump escalated their claims.Read Article >
Trump suggested that not only was there a tendency for tech companies to suppress right-wing voices, but that Google “rigged” its search results to only show negative reporting about him. The president said that the search giant and others were “hiding information and news that is good,” and that this was a “very serious situation” that “will be addressed.”