White House Admits Exec Order To Regulate Social Media Is 'Real,' But No Idea Who Wrote It, And Won't Use It

from the well,-there's-that dept

On September 14th, we wrote about a draft executive order basically tasking the executive branch with “investigating” the major internet companies for evidence of “bias” that might lead to antitrust activity. As we wrote at the time, the draft executive order was poorly drafted, didn’t make much sense, and was almost certainly unconstitutional. It took a week, but the rest of the tech policy world finally discovered the same draft executive order this past Friday (amusingly with some insisting that they had the “scoop” a week after we wrote about it).

Now, the White House has admitted that the document is “real”, though they’re not entirely sure who crafted it, it hasn’t gone through any of the normal processes, and there’s no intention of moving forward with it. In other words, it sounds like a pet project of someone in the White House to have in a drawer in case it was needed at some future date. From the Washington Post:

But three White House aides soon insisted they didn?t write the draft order, didn?t know where it came from and generally found it to be unworkable policy. One senior White House official confirmed the document had been floating around the White House but had not gone through the formal process, which is controlled by the staff secretary.

Asked about the document, Lindsay Walters, the deputy White House press secretary, said of the digital-age ?whodunit? on Saturday: ?Although the White House is concerned about the conduct of online platforms and their impact on society, this document is not the result of an official White House policymaking process.?

There is some speculation in the article that the document actually originated from Yelp, which has spent the past decade or so trying to get any government anywhere to bring the antitrust hammer down on Google. If that turns out to be true, it speaks very poorly of Yelp, as a company trying to leverage an obviously bullshit claim of “search bias” to try to achieve its unrelated goals. It would also almost certainly backfire on Yelp in a big way, as the biggest tool that the government has to try to “punish” Google would be to modify Section 230 of the CDA — which, arguably, Yelp relies on much more than Google does.

It’s good that this document is clearly going nowhere, though it still is worth noting that at least someone in the White House thought it was worth passing around for discussion as they try to determine “what to do” about the made up problem of “bias” in search.

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Companies: google, yelp

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Comments on “White House Admits Exec Order To Regulate Social Media Is 'Real,' But No Idea Who Wrote It, And Won't Use It”

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bt says:

Re: Re: Re: have Obama's garbage removed

But whatabout,

All of those marvelous things were done by the Republicans before the Republicans turned into Democrats, and the Democrats turned into Republicans when Richard Nixon began to recruit the Racist South to the GOP, effectively swapping the 2 political parties.

Because, as we know, today’s racist/southern GOP would not vote for any of those things you think we should credit the Republican Party with. -Especially that emancipation business…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: have Obama's garbage removed

“You mean like the Americans With Disabilities Act (Bush), the Emancipation Proclamation (Lincoln), the interstate highway system (Eisenhower), or the Antitrust laws? (Teddy Roosevelt)?”

And today all those past presidents would be considered liberals, including your golden boy Ronny.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Response to: Ninja on Sep 24th, 2018 @ 12:09pm

Ninja has a point

At this point I would not be suprised if the they found trump legit innocent of the whole Russia thing solely becuase he he was not smart enough to be aware of what the people around. Him were doing or if he is guilty it was becuase he was innocent but the trump always wins part of him kicked in.
I’m entertaining both right now.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Congratulations!

Not get what? The fact that people who are regularly demonized by Trump don’t like him?

Silicon Valley (not just Google) has long hated Republicans for a number of reasons:

  • Asian Americans are heavily over-represented in Silicon Valley. And like Hispanics, many of them are immigrants or children of immigrants, who don’t like Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric (which quite frankly is often just spewing racism about immigrants).
  • Trump and Republicans advocate for the Religious Right on political issues like LGBTQ rights, and Silicon Valley has long been very supportive of LGBTQ rights, even when it was much more controversial nationally.
  • Since many techies went to college, and Trump’s rhetoric is built to appeal to less educated, yeah, that’s another strike against him.
  • And then Silicon Valley and other tech hot spots tend to be in urban areas, which also attract much more liberal people.

So yeah, of course Google employees are likely to freaking hate Trump.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: IF you ignore billionaires in pastel shirts weeping and wailing when Trump elected...

Yeah, definitely a horrible source.

I always assume anything reported by Breitbart is slanderously false until proven otherwise. The mainstream media fell for far too many complete lies and fabricated videos from them years ago that were quickly debunked. (lies that got their asses sued in some cases, like their story of a ‘racist’ Obama staffer who gleefully watched a white couple lose their farm)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: IF you ignore billionaires in pastel shirts weeping and wailing when Trump elected...

If Hobby Lobby can claim religious objections to carrying contraception in their insurance plans, then you should have no problem with Google being depressed that the Russians elected a small-dicked yeti-pubed retard as our president.

If you want companies to have opinions, then goddammit let’s have them!

bt says:

People need to wise up about how “This Administration” operates.

They draft these bullshit missives to get people excited and to give the Right Wing Bullshit Machine things to talk about and to rile up their zombie armies of Hannity Viewers.

These are not real proposals from people who care about running the government. They are shiny objects issued by the propaganda department.

As far as I am concerned, the recent anonymous post from the resistor in the White House was a hoax, designed to make Donald Trump look likes he’s under siege from the Swamp Monsters and to give him a handy excuse for why his governance is so dysfunctional – and it was so handily timed to provide an outrageous distraction from the Woodward Book.

It’s all bullshit signaling and identity politics all the time from these people.

John Smith says:

Masnick has an ulterior motive for wanting unrestrained speech on the internet.

Some of the targets of said “unrestrained speech” aren’t as weak as they appear, nor are some who appear to have power anywhere nearly as strong as they might seem.

People like Mikey tend to throw in with whichever side they think will prevail. He’s miscalculated this time.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

How dare Google manage their search engine how they want.
How dare Google manage their content to give the best user experience.
How dare Google buy & manage their own phone OS.
How dare Google pay money to be the default search engine.

It’s almost like they are a company, doing the things that work best for the company & users.

Google isn’t destroying the other search engines, they just do search better.
MS Edge exists only long enough to DL FireFox, not seeing MS screaming how FireFox is evil for dominating browsers. There are other choices, but it is almost like they are giving users what they want.

Perhaps before going after Google, which has only resulted in conservative conspiracy theories, perhaps an anti-trust investigation might look into how insulin prices have skyrocketed in lockstep, how drugs that mean the difference between life & death are being evergreened to allow them to keep prices high, despite no new development on it in decades. Or perhaps how 1 broadband provider can be called competition, how the pricing always seems to be the same despite dropping bandwidth costs, how they bundle & cram things onto bills to pad the bottom line, how they have inserted money into politics to buy laws that protect their status while making sure consumers get less, how they craft deals & never live up to them, where the billions from the USF have gone & why we have problems finding anythign to show for it…

But sure go after Google… its better soundbites while time, energy, resources are wasted while actual problems stay ignored for a while longs.

How many Google hearings could have paid to house a homeless vet? How much could have gotten suicidal vets help to stay alive? How many hungry children could be fed? I’d go on but I’m getting sick to my stomach.

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