Trump is not about to order an antitrust investigation into 'bias' at Google and Facebook, White House officials say
- White House officials have distanced themselves from a leaked draft of an executive order, calling on federal agencies to investigate online platforms on the grounds of bias and antitrust.
- Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters and other officials told The Washington Post reports that the leaked document, obtained by Business Insider, is not official policy.
- Officials told the Post that the draft was first brought to their attention by Yelp Senior Vice President for Policy Luther Lowe - a staunch critic of Google.
- US President Donald Trump has attacked Google and Twitter over a perceived liberal bias in recent weeks, while he also hinted at a "very antitrust" situation at Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
White House officials are distancing themselves from a drafted executive order that circulated last week which outlined a potential investigation into "online platform bias."
The leaked document focused on political bias at big tech companies and potential antitrust violations. This comes after US President Donald Trump accused Google of having an anti-conservative bias last month, and later hinted that Facebook, Amazon, and Google could be a "very antitrust" situation.The leaked order added to mounting pressure on big tech firms, who are under scrutiny on the subjects of bias and antitrust. Congress grilled CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on political bias in early September, and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is open to the possibility of investigating Silicon Valley firms.
But the draft order is not going to become formal policy any time soon, The Washington Post reports. Three White House aides told the newspaper that they didn't write the order, nor did they know where it came from. They also found the policy to be "unworkable," according to the Post.
Another senior White House official told the Post that they had seen the document circulating, but that it had not gone through a formal process.
Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters echoed this on Saturday, telling the Post: "Although the White House is concerned about the conduct of online platforms and their impact on society, this document is not the result of an official White House policymaking process"
The draft order asked that agencies submit findings and recommendations against tech companies to the National Economic Council. Aides told the Post that no one at the National Economic Council wrote the document, and didn't know of its provenance. The Office of Science and Technology Policy was also unaware of where the order came from, according to anonymous sources.
The Post further reports that many within the department first heard of the document from the review site, Yelp. Yelp Senior Vice President for Policy Luther Lowe reportedly contacted White House aides with the document in September, and declined to comment on whether he wrote or commissioned the executive order.Yelp has been openly critical of Google in the past, and Lowe told the Post that Google entrenched deliberate bias in its search results "for their own competitive benefit."
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