President Donald Trump has long fought against social media sites because of what he says is their politically biased censoring of conservative votes, and now he is looking for evidence.
The White House has released a tool on Wednesday that invites people who have been censored on social media and who suspect political bias as the reason to "share your story with President Trump."
The first page says:
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should promote FREEDOM OR SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have suspended, banned or reported fraudulent accounts for unclear & # 39; violations & # 39; of user policy.
Regardless of your opinion, if you suspect that political bias has led to such an action being taken against you, share your story with President Trump.
Read the fine print
Anyone considering using the tool should take a good look at the user agreement, which grants the US government – including but not limited to the president's executive office – an irrevocable license for all content you submit to the site.
You license the US government (including but not limited to the president's headquarters) for any "content" (including but not limited to the photos, information, text or otherwise) that you post on this site or Sending … The license you grant is irrevocable and valid for eternity, all over the world and in all forms of media … You may not post information that you do not want to be disclosed …
That means that any content that curled one's toes enough that a social media platform might have removed it may see the clear light of the day because it uses your stuff the way it wants:
This permission grants the US government a license to use, edit, display, publish, broadcast, transmit, post, or otherwise distribute the content (including edited, composite, or derivative works created from it).
The user agreement makes it clear that "you understand that this form only collects information".
The reporting form, hosted on Typeform, asks users to submit screenshots of and links to the banned content. It also provides a text field where users can describe the enforcement actions being taken against them. Users can choose between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or "other" as the platform whose content has been removed.
The form also invites you to transfer your phone number, although in a strange way for a web-based system, and you ask, "Would you mind sharing your phone number in case we need to contact you?"
What it actually means is "Enter your phone number in case we need to contact you (or leave it blank if you don't want to give it up)", which would be a much clearer way to put it on the form.
Long slumbering resentment
There is a lot of context behind Wednesday's rollout of this tool. For years, conservatives have claimed that the major platforms – Facebook, Google and Twitter – have censored them. When they ran the House, Republican lawmakers held multiple hearings on the issue.
Trump has threatened the regulations in the past: last year he suggested that the administration could focus on the way Google displays its search results; in March he again criticized the companies, accused them of "collusion" and a "hatred they have for a certain group of people who happen to be in power, who happen to have won the elections."
Regardless of where you are politically, the larger picture is likely that as soon as social media companies make themselves arbitrators of what is acceptable and what is not, they open themselves up to accusations of bias. Even if they were to banish people randomly, you could find a way to cut the data so that it would look for someone else.
The White House is now looking at collecting a lot of data. It remains to be seen how it will use the results.
Readers, if you intend to silence your own story (s), feel free to share the details with us – including your thoughts on the form and how the government can use the information you submit. ..
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