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Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

The White House launched a tool on Wednesday that will allow any U.S. citizen to submit a complaint if they think they were unfairly censored on social media platforms.

Why it matters: Social media bias has become a major talking point for President Trump and conservatives who argue that Silicon Valley companies are biased against their viewpoints.

Be smart: This attitude demonstrates a complete reversal of the president's stance toward social media platforms since he was inaugurated in 2017.

  • At that time, the president told Axios that he liked platforms like Twitter and Facebook because they allowed him to reach voters in an unrestricted way, unlike the mainstream media.
  • Today, Trump uses Twitter as his main communications vehicle, often sending dozens of tweets in a single day.

Details: The new form begins by asking users to submit basic information about themselves, like their first and last names. It then asks users if they are citizens.

  • If a user clicks "yes," the form continues. If a user clicks "no," a screen pops up saying: "Unfortunately, we can't gather your response through this form. Please feel free to contact us at WhiteHouse.gov/contact."
  • The tool asks users to click which platform they've experienced bias on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Other. It asks users to link to the suspected post and post a screenshot from the platform, if applicable, of the rule violation notification.

Skeptics were quick to point out that the online form was not very sophisticated and could be easily gamed by anyone who wanted to troll the administration.

  • For example, the "captcha" response test used at the end of the survey to determine if the respondent is a bot asks users to type the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.
  • "I tried it with '1945,' it cleared it. You just need to type four numbers," tweeted Quentin Hardy, head of editorial at Google Cloud.

Between the lines: The White House says the tool is meant to help people share stories about ways they were unfairly targeted by social platforms for free speech, but the online form where users can submit requests also appears to be an email collection mechanism.

  • "We want to keep you posted on President Trump's fight for free speech," the form states after a few questions. "Can we add you to our email newsletters so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter?"

Our thought bubble: The move is yet another example of ways the administration has chosen to tackle issues unilaterally, as opposed to working with bigger institutions or bodies to enact change.

  • The White House launched the tool just hours after it broke with more than a dozen world leaders and top technology companies in an international call to action around the rise of online extremism on social platforms.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
11 mins ago - Economy & Business

The mobile gaming gold rush

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Electronic Arts this morning announced that it will pay $1.4 billion to buy Playdemic, a mobile gaming studio whose titles include "Golf Clash," from Warner Bros.

Why it matters: This comes just months after EA paid $2.1 billion to buy Glu Mobile. It also resolves talk that not all of WB Games would get included in the Discovery merger.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Warren Buffett resigns from Gates Foundation board

Buffett and Bill Gates in 2015. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — the second-largest philanthropy in the world — is now governed by just two trustees, after Warren Buffett announced on Wednesday that he had resigned his position there.

Why it matters: The two remaining trustees, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, are going through a divorce.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.K. denies Russia fired warning shots at destroyer in Black Sea

The HMS Defender in the port of Odessa on Ukraine's Black Sea coast on June 18. Photo: Konstantin Sazonchik\TASS via Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry claimed Wednesday that a Russian warship and fighter jet fired "warning" shots at the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender destroyer for encroaching on waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

The latest: The U.K.'s ministry of defense disputed that any warning shots were fired, saying in a statement, "We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."