There is no doubt that former President Donald Trump was the social media president. Millions of people followed his every tweet. Many of those tweets were critical of Silicon Valley companies that were hostile to him and conservatives as a whole.
Liberal social media companies and most of their left-wing employees didn't like Trump. When Facebook chose not to take action over Trump tweets connected to racial protests and rioting in the spring of 2020, many employees were furious. They staged a “virtual walkout” of work to pressure the company to take an editorial stand against the former president.
The Trump resistance was even stronger at Google, Reddit, Twitter and other companies. According to a Project Veritas investigation, Google’s Responsible Innovation Head Jen Gennai criticized the desire to break up Google, saying that would not help “prevent the next Trump situation.” After saying everyone got “screwed” in 2016, she added “We’re also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?”
Google and YouTube also yanked hundreds of Trump campaign ads in 2019, according to a CBS investigation. The companies did not say which policies the ads violated.
Twitter began fact-checking and hiding Trump tweets under content and policy violation warnings months ahead of the 2020 election. This past election cycle Big Tech founders and employees were boosting Trump’s opponents. Employees donated far more to President Joe Biden’s campaign than to Trump’s reelection.
Biden also had high profile tech billionaires, including Reid Hoffman, who helped propel him into the White House.
The hostility was mutual. Throughout his presidency, Trump criticized tech companies for helping Democrats, “silencing millions” by suppressing conservative voices, for working against him, for monopolistic practices and for relationships with countries like China.
When four prominent social media and tech companies came to another congressional hearing in July 2020, Trump threatened to act himself if Congress failed to.
“If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!” Trump tweeted.
After the election, most major social media platforms banned Trump in January. He could no longer use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the other platforms he used to reach the American people. Big Tech silenced the then-sitting president of the United States.
Trump began taking action in 2020 by issuing an executive order on Section 230 and by banning U.S. business with two Chinese tech companies. While still in office, Trump's administration also investigated potential antitrust violations by multiple companies. The former president also expressed willingness to work with Democrats to regulate the tech industry.
- Sources told Reuters in September 2020, that Trump’s Department of Justice would sue Google over monopolistic advertising practices sometime within weeks.
- Trump issued executive orders banning U.S. business with Chinese companies Bytedance and Tencent, the respective owners of TikTok and WeChat, because of their relationships with the communist Chinese government.
- In July 2020, The Commerce Department (under Trump’s prior executive order) petitioned the FCC to “clarify the scope” of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Trump wants to prevent political censorship of content by companies like Twitter, Facebook and others.
- After Twitter began fact-checking Trump and other politicians’ tweets, the former president issued an executive order saying that if a social media company is going to editorialize by telling people what is true or false, it needs to be stripped of the liability protections provided by Section 230. The order also announced that within 60 days the Secretary of Commerce would file a rulemaking petition to the FCC to have Section 230 language adjusted. It prompted a federal lawsuit on First Amendment grounds from an organization that receives donations from Big Tech.
- Trump tweeted on May 16, that his administration is “working to remedy this illegal situation” of the “radical left’s” control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google.
- He considered establishing a federal panel to review complaints of anti-conservative bias by social media platforms.
- The Trump administration has been investigating potential antitrust violations by several major tech companies.
- The former president accused Google, Facebook and Twitter of trying to help Democrats get elected in 2020. He also suggested suing them over antitrust issues.
- The White House held a Social Media Summit in July 2019 to discuss the problem of political bias by Big Tech and censorship of conservatives. At the summit, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) talked about his Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act. Trump called it “very important legislation.”
- The Trump administration created a way for people to say they’ve been censored by social media companies in May 2019. In just a few weeks, more than 16,000 complaints were submitted. The Tech Bias Story Sharing Tool was later discontinued.
- Reporters asked Trump during a November 2018 press briefing if he would work with Democrats to regulate social media companies. He replied, “I would — I would do that. I would look at that very seriously. I think it’s a serious problem. At the same time, you start getting into speech; that’s a very dangerous problem. That could be the beginning. So it’s very dangerous.”
- Trump and his team were “taking a look” at regulating Google because of biased search results in 2018. Google denied manipulating its results.
- Amazon and its owner Jeff Bezos were favorite targets of Trump, because Bezos also owns the liberal Washington Post. Bezos sued the Trump administration for government contracts, claiming unfair treatment.