White House launches tool to report censorship on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the White House launched a new tool for people to use if they feel they’ve been wrongly censored, banned, or suspended on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

“Too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear ‘violations’ of user policies,” the site reads. “No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.”

A Twitter spokesperson responded to the new tool saying, “We enforce the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation. We are constantly working to improve our systems and will continue to be transparent in our efforts.”

Facebook, Google, and YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Over the past few months, Republicans have taken aim at social media networks, citing claims that conservatives have been wrongly censored on these platforms. Some committees, like House Energy and Commerce and Senate Judiciary, have even held hearings on the issue where lawmakers questioned officials from companies like Facebook and Twitter over the alleged bias.

The outrage started last April when the House Judiciary Committee invited pro-Trump online personalities Diamond and Silk to discuss being “censored” on social media. This spun off into the Senate where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) later made it a key policy issue by holding a hearing with Facebook and Twitter executives to discuss the alleged bias. Only two Democrats attended the hearing where other Republicans like Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) questioned the representatives on why specific posts from their offices or from conservative films were taken down.

Just last month, President Trump met with Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter representatives said that the meeting was supposed to focus on what the platform was doing to aid the opioid epidemic and discuss the health of the platform, but it was later reported that Trump spent a significant portion of their 30-minute discussion complaining that he was losing followers.

Other members of the Trump family, like Don Jr., have also voiced concern of the deplatforming of right-wing activists. In a tweet last month, President Trump’s eldest son wrote “The purposeful & calculated silencing of conservatives on Facebook & the rest of the Big Tech monopoly men should terrify everyone,” after Facebook announced that it would banning conspiracy theorist Alex Jones along with other far-right pundits and activists.

The tool, which is hosted on Typeform, asks users for screenshots and links of the offending content, and provides a text field where users can describe the enforcement actions taken against them. The user is also asked to choose between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube or “other” as the platform where the offense took place. (Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The tool also collects significant personal information from the user, and near the end invites users to opt into email newsletters from President Trump, “so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.” A separate question points users to an extensive user agreement, and makes clear that “you understand this form is for information gathering only.”

A later question asks the user what year the Declaration of Independence was signed “just to confirm you aren’t a robot.” This is an unorthodox anti-scripting technique, and a generally ineffective one, given the relative simplicity of automatically entering a number.

Earlier on Wednesday, the White House announced that it would not be endorsing a call from international leaders to combat online extremism as a response to the tragic white nationalist terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. In a statement, the White House said that it “was not currently in a position to join the endorsement.”

Comments

This is the dumbest timeline.

Sure White House can have billion other things to worry about right now. But hey if someone your feelings hurt about your political views not getting attention and wanna cry about it, here is the number.

Typical. The party of business, unless they don’t like your business. The party of freedom, unless they don’t agree with you.

Not that I’m claiming Democrats are better. Both parties are utter cesspools of partisan nonsense.

"Businesses should be able to do and serve whoever they want!!"

"Help private business banned me!"

I’ve long thought Liberals should just formalize their ideals into a "religion" and do all the same shit that conservatives do to protect "religious freedom." My religion dictates that a woman should be allowed to have an abortion, the government restricting said abortion is abridging my rights to practice my religion.

And? He will rage on twitter about it? Like, what happens afterwards? I don’t think they can demand to unban someone.

Have these guys actually read the constitution? The 1st amendment only applies to the government, not private platforms. The government making private platforms accept all speech would violate the constitution, as it means the government is forcing them to host things they may not agree with.

Just cause you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you can censor it. Unless you are liable for the speech or it is a call to violence.

Just cause you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you can censor it.

No, you actually can. It’s the same principle of private property banning protests or guns on premises. The constitution only applies to the government, if it’s a private business, they can do whatever the fuck they want.

Well, just today California said that ChristianMingle.com had to allow gays on their dating website and couldn’t discriminate against them. Guess private businesses can’t just do whatever the fuck they want. Do you agree with California’s decision?

Remember when it was okay for private businesses to deny black people service at their restaurants? Do you still agree that private businesses should be able to do whatever the fuck they want?

Point is, private businesses can’t just do whatever the fuck they want.

Sexual orientation is a protected class, same as race.

Eventually you’re going to have to start arguing in good faith because clearly you don’t understand how anything works.

Not whatever they want. But again, social media isn’t banning people because they are conservative/liberal (or gay/straight), they’re banning them for spreading hate, inciting violence, etc. ChristianMingle is welcome to ban a gay person for spreading hate on its platform, but can’t ban them for being gay. There is a difference. One is an inherent trait (in this case, sexual orientation), the other is a set of actions. Even an absolutely horrible person can mind their manners and behave themselves, but a gay person is going to be gay no matter what. They’re just completely different situations.

Can I post some political flyers in your living room?

Facebook isn’t somebody’s living room. Not by a long shot.

They’re both private property, funny how you don’t want to let someone else put shit on your private property. How about at your local coffee shop then? Can I go in and staple my screed to their bulletin board without them taking it down?

Facebook isn’t my personal living room. Facebook isn’t a coffee shop. Facebook is every year less and less fitting a reasonable description for "private property". It is a public forum that everyone can participate in and has become one of the few de facto standards for sharing information across the world. It and other giant communication platforms needs to be regulated by laws, not the whims of shareholders and staff members. Otherwise we’ve effectively lost all of our public space to private entities.

It is a public forum that everyone can participate in

this is wrong, and youve admitted it, because those who violate the tos and have been banned can no longer participate, therefore, not accessible to everyone

When did I admit that? I think it’s BS that a private company has the power to restrict speech on the largest forum that’s ever existed by right of ownership. Facebook should have no more ability to ban you than the police have to ban you from public parks. The police can’t just decide you’re bad and throw you in jail, and if they do, you have legal recourse.

because it is public vs private. Facebook can do whatever it wants because it is a private entity, with rules you have to follow or your banned. I don’t get what you are not understanding, what is your reasoning, just because your feelings are hurt?

Just cause you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you the government can censor it.

I fixed that for you since you clearly don’t understand the First Amendment. If it’s too long for you to read the whole thing, the first 5 words give it away. "Congress shall make no law"

Just cause you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean you can censor it.

Thats funny, because US law expressly permits internet companies to manage this for themselves. If the US government don`t like their own laws, they should propose a new one.

Or perhaps whining about it on twitter would be better….

I agree with you, but let’s make one thing clear: there is no significant evidence that any of this is even happening. All of this is based on a few anecdotal accounts that fall apart on examination. Starting off with arguments about the first amendment plays into the administration’s hands because it assumes that social media platforms are censoring in the first place.

Thanks for pointing this out.

And spambots activated in 3-2-1…

Interesting how their anti-scripting method would easily be circumvented even by a rudimentary bot… Seems like they’re hoping for "overwhelming" feedback.

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