White House launches survey looking for tech industry bias | TribLIVE.com

White House launches survey looking for tech industry bias

Associated Press
Associated Press
In this May 14 photo, President Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The White House has launched an online survey asking people to share their experiences if they think political bias has led to their posts being removed from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The White House’s official Twitter account tweeted a link to the survey, saying that “The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online.”

SAN FRANCISCO — On the heels of President Trump’s repeated assertions claiming anti-conservative bias by tech companies, the White House has launched an online form asking people to share their experiences if they think political partisanship has led them to be silenced by social media sites.

The White House’s official Twitter account tweeted a link to the form Wednesday, saying that “The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online.” The tweet continues that “no matter your views, if you suspect political bias has caused you to be censored or silenced online, we want to hear about it!”

On the first page, the bare-bones online form reads like a tweet from the president, saying that “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.”

Earlier this month, Trump sent out a series of tweets criticizing social media companies after Facebook banned several extremist figures, most of them prominent far right personalities such as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Trump tweeted May 3, for instance, that he is “continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH!”

The questionnaire continues by asking people names, contact information, whether they are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and what happened to their social media accounts in question. It also asks if the respondent wants to sign up for the president’s email newsletters, “so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.”

The query does not say how the information will be used. To ensure that the respondent is “not a robot,” as online forms routinely do, it asks what year the Declaration of Independence was signed. As some techies quickly noted on Twitter, this sort of verification is very easy for bots to game, unlike, say, trying to pick out blurry images of traffic lights from a photo.

The form does not ask respondents their political affiliation. But it comes amid growing conservative criticism of tech platforms for their perceived political bias. While some tech company executives may lean liberal, they have long asserted that their products are without political bias. Twitter said Wednesday that it enforces its rules regardless of users’ background or political affiliation. Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The tool was launched the same day the White House declined to sign a global pledge to step up efforts to keep internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks, citing respect for freedom of expression.

Categories: Business | Technology
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.