US President Donald Trump stepped up claims of political bias by Big Tech firms Tuesday in a fresh assault on Silicon Valley after one of his key congressional allies sued Twitter claiming it discriminates against conservatives.
The latest diatribe from the president comes with online platforms facing heightened scrutiny on how they filter and amplify content — but with the industry fiercely defending itself against claims of political bias.
Trump renewed his attacks after retweeting news of a lawsuit filed by Republican Representative Devin Nunes seeking $250 million in damages from Twitter.
“Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats,” Trump tweeted.
Hours later, he went further when asked about social media at a joint press briefing with his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.
“It seems to be if they are conservative, if they are Republicans, in a certain group, there is discrimination. I see it on Twitter and Facebook,” Trump said.
Blocked for spam activity
In a separate tweet, the president pointed to an incident in which his social media director Dan Scavino was temporarily blocked on Facebook.
“I will be looking into this!” Trump wrote, adding the hashtag #StopTheBias.
Facebook said Scavino, who claimed he was merely responding to comments, was briefly blocked as a result of activity detected as spam, not for any political reason, and added that it had apologized to him.
Nunes alleged in his lawsuit filed in a Virginia state court that Twitter “shadow bans” conservatives, making their messages less visible.
He also claimed Twitter was negligent for failing to crack down on parody accounts such as “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ cow” which accused him of obstructing investigations into the president.
Nunes, the former Republican leader of the House probe into Russian interference in the US election, stepped aside in 2017 after being criticized for compromising the probe in visits to the White House.
Nunes, then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had sought to turn the investigation away from Russia and toward allegations that the previous Obama administration abused its powers by spying on Trump and his advisors.