The US White House is considering a draft executive order instructing federal antitrust and law enforcement agencies to investigate Google, Facebook and other social media companies, Bloomberg reported.
The document instructs regulators to investigate whether any platform had acted in violation of antitrust laws and to recommend within one month actions which could potentially “protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias”.
Bloomberg noted the order directs that actions taken should be “consistent with other laws”, which it suggested was a nod towards concern the move could threaten the traditional independence of US law enforcement or conflict with the First Amendment, which protects political views from regulation.
Donald Trump, the US president, had previously said social media is “discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices” and his administration “won’t let that happen”: comments which sparked concern over the motivation for the new order.
The draft order said consumer harm, an important factor in antitrust investigations, could come “through the exercise of bias”.
Bloomberg stated the White House press office said the order is not the result of an official policy making process. The preliminary status also means the text contains comments to the effect that it could be expanded to “provide more detail on the role of platforms and the importance of competition”.
Earlier this month US Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed plans to meet with state counterparts to discuss the impact of social media platforms on competition and free speech.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back