Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Trump threatens to sue Twitter, Google, Facebook after issuing bias claims

US president accuses US social media firm of limiting his number of followers

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 26 June 2019 16:48 BST
Donald Trump accuses twitter of being 'totally biased towards democrats'

Donald Trump has said the US should sue technology companies after complaining that they unfairly repress his message, on the same day that Congress heard from Facebook, Google and Twitter about misinformation end extremist content spread online.

The US president spoke to Fox News Business on Wednesday morning, claiming that Twitter was “totally biased towards Democrats”. Mr Trump suggested accused Twitter of deliberately limiting his number of followers.

The president has one of the most closely watched Twitter accounts in the world with 61.4 million followers, more than Twitter’s own corporate account.

“Twitter is just terrible, what they do. They don’t let you get the word out. I’ll tell you what, they should be sued because of what’s happening with the bias,” the president said.

He added: “These people are all Democrats, it’s totally biased toward Democrats. If I announced tomorrow that I’m going to become a nice liberal Democrat, I would pick up five times more followers.”

A number of conservative voices have attacked large US tech firms including Twitter and Google for alleged bias but academic studies have not backed up the claims.

Analysis of Google’s search results by the Economist did not find evidence of bias but did suggest that sites rated highly by independent fact-checking organisations tended to be rewarded with higher search rankings.

Mr Trump also took aim at EU competition commissioner, Margarethe Vestagher, who has brought actions against a string of US technology companies for exploiting dominant market positions.

“She hates the United States perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met,” Mr Trump said in a televised phone call to his favoured news network.

“What she does to our country. She’s suing all our companies. We should be suing Google and Facebook, and all that, which perhaps we will, OK?”

“They’re suing Apple. They’re suing everybody. They make it almost impossible to do business.”

Shortly after the president’s comments, Google, Facebook and Twitter executives appeared before the House Committee on Homeland Security to testify about their efforts to counter terror content and misinformation on social media.

Representative Mike Rogers, the committee's top Republican said he had “serious questions” about Google’s ability to be fair after undercover filming posted by the right-wing group Project Veritas.

“This report, and others like it, are a stark reminder of why the founders created the First Amendment,” Mr Rogers said in his opening statement on Wednesday. “We are in trouble” if the views in the video represented Google company policy.

He was referring to edited clip of a video showing Google employee, Jen Gennai, discussing the company's efforts to tackle potential foreign interference in the 2020 US presidential elections after Russia was found to have attempted to influence the 2016 vote.

As part of the discussion, Ms Gennai commented that she believed breaking up Google was a bad idea because it would result in smaller companies being charged with "preventing the next Trump situation".

Project Veritas claimed that this demonstrated Google's efforts to prevent Mr Trump being re-elected, a claim Ms Gennai said in a blog post was "absolute, unadulterated nonsense".

Google’s global director of information policy, Derek Slater, testified to the House committee that no employee could skew search results based on their own political beliefs.

“We are in the trust business,” he told Mr Rogers. “We have a long-term incentive to get that right.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in