President Donald Trump threatened a government investigation of Twitter, just the latest volley at edge providers from inside the Beltway, where real 'fake news,' Russian election meddling, third-party data sharing and more have D.C. rethinking the hands-off approach to social media platforms.
The President tweeted Thursday:
That appears to be a reaction to conservative group Project Veritas' undercover video purporting to have uncovered such "shadow banning" of conservative political thought by Twitter, based on a conversation with someone identified as a former Twitter software engineer recorded in a causal setting without his knowledge.
Project Veritas is dedicated to exposing the so-called "deep state," the idea that there is a "shadow" government cabal working to manipulate policy against the interests of the Trump Administration.
Vice News Thursday followed up on the Veritas story Thursday (July 26), which is almost certainly what the President was reacting to since it talked about shadow banning a spokesperson for Trump's son, Donald, and the head of the RNC.
Certainly Project Veritas saw it as validation for its original video release. "We are excited to see what the President plans to do, and we will be happy to offer our assistance," said Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe.
Hill Republicans have been complaining about what they see as an online effort to promote liberal speech and suppress conservative thought. At an FCC oversight hearing this week, for example, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) talked about the online attacks against conservative FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and suggested it was a truism these days that conservatives had to be careful when expressing their opinions.
And during the Facebook oversight hearings, allegations that the site censored conservative speech got a major airing. At the time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said concerns about a liberal bias in Silicon Valley were understandable, but said there was not company policy of limiting speech, beyond hate speech or other speech that made the online community uncomfortable, though just what fits in the latter category is unclear.
Republicans appeared unassuaged.