Jul 10, 2019

Trump's social-media grievance group

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's plans to stoke conservative grievances about social media are part of a larger strategy to fan the us-vs.-them theme of his 2020 campaign. 

The big picture: The issue of tech companies being biased against conservatives is one of the hottest subjects among the Republican Party’s online base, per Axios' Jonathan Swan.

  • Outrage is fueled every time a new hidden video leaks showing employees at influential tech companies discussing their leftward political leanings.
  • Don Jr., the President’s eldest son, often tweets about tech bias.
  • Trump himself finally latched onto the issue in recent months, after being largely uninterested for the longest time.

What's happening: The "Presidential Social Media Summit," at the White House tomorrow, is so cozy that it's being called a "family conversation" internally — Facebook, Twitter and Google aren't invited.

  • The invitees are mostly conservative digital-media types, including consultants, activists and executives.
  • Trump will speak to the group, and is expected to discuss his own success on social media, along with some of his current complaintsabout bias and lack of competition.
  • Attendees have been invited to submit questions for the president and other speakers.

White House officials want the conservative "family" to push Silicon Valley to work on bias, transparency and fairness:

  • "Whenever conservatives talk about conservative bias," a White House official told Axios, "it’s perceived by the tech community as an attack. There’s an underlying denial that there's an issue at all."
  • But no formal findings or demands are planned.

Why it matters for politics ... Trump is all-in on scaling grievance: capitalists vs. socialists; Christians vs. non-Christians; rural vs. cities; conservatives vs. social media. 

  • Why it matters to tech: The giant companies are rightly worried that right-wing rallying cry of bias could escalate into new regulations or efforts to break up Google, Facebook or Amazon. 

Reality check from Axios' Scott Rosenberg and Ina Fried: Conservatives accurately view the workforces and culture at most large tech companies as lined up against them.

  • But most charges of anti-conservative bias in policy and content moderation haven't survived close examination.

Go deeper: White House summit spotlights right's new split on tech

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Inside the room: Trump says tech can't "self-correct"

Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said Thursday he doesn't trust social media companies to "self-correct" their alleged conservative bias, according to multiple sources in the room.

Why it matters: It's another strong signal that Trump would support harsh regulations or antitrust action against social media companies.

Go deeperArrowJul 11, 2019

Podcast: Trumpism vs. tech

Dan and Axios tech reporter David McCabe discuss venture capitalist Peter Thiel's attacks on Google, just days after a White House airing of grievances over perceived social media bias.

Go deeper: Peter Thiel says FBI, CIA should probe Google

Keep ReadingArrowJul 15, 2019

Congress' Big Tech triple play

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill who no longer seem able to agree on the color of the sky found common ground Tuesday across three committee hearings in both houses of Congress: Big Tech is too powerful and needs to be knocked down a peg.

Why it matters: While it's not out of the "all talk" stage yet, regulation of tech is starting to seem like something both parties can agree on — and that should worry Silicon Valley.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019