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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:04pm

    I will bet that Trump was too far under siege to have Obama's garbage removed as this sounds like something he left behind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bob, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:06pm

      Re:

      Keep dreaming blue boy

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:06pm

      Re:

      lol

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:53pm

      Re: have Obama's garbage removed

      It’s almost as though Republicans leave a less lasting legacy than Democrats.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        John Smith, 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:57pm

        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)?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 3:39pm

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

          Didn’t you run away to get your big brother to beat mike up?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 24 Sep 2018 @ 5:44pm

          Re: You mean like [examples of lots of Government regulations]

          You sound proud of Republican administrations telling people what to do.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          bt, 24 Sep 2018 @ 5:48pm

          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...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 6:40pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 8:53pm

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

          Why are you so stupid?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:09pm

    "It's good that this document is clearly going nowhere"

    Don't underestimate this administration.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Steve, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:53pm

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

      > Don't underestimate this administration.

      Lol. Don't overestimate your opinions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 1:05pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 1:53pm

      "this document is clearly going nowhere"

      Thanks to the White House resistance doing its thing? I suspect its resurfacing depends on how much Trump remembers to nag about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Smith, 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:58pm

      Re:

      Europe isn't fooled at all. Social meia ill be regulated in America by any company that wants to do business abroad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 5:25pm

        Re: Re:

        I think your mental health be illin’ son.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 6:45pm

        Re: Re:

        How exactly does one regulate "social meia"? (I assume you meant media). If I put a smiley face on a story about trump impeachment, will they censor my smiley?

        Your prediction will not prove to be correct.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    EZ Counter, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:11pm

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:14pm

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

      Yes, people who work at companies often have political opinions.

      Shocking!

      What you'll find missing from the latest Breitbart propaganda is any proof of any impact on search results.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:15pm

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

      go pound sand

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Will B., 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:16pm

      Congratulations!

      This is the one millionth post to not fucking get it! You win a lifetime of recriminations!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ShadowNinja (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 1:10pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:19pm

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

      Breitfart? Pfff hehehehe

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ShadowNinja (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 1:01pm

        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)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:29pm

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

      Oh well don't stop there.

      Please also provide supporting evidence from InfoWars, and Milo Yiannopouloses hot take on the situation.

      By the way, how is your plot for shooting up a pizza joint going?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Steve, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:57pm

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

        > By the way, how is your plot for shooting up a pizza joint going?

        Lol. You little boys can't even hit the toilet bowl. Nice try at shitting on people, though.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:15pm

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

          You're really not doing yourself any favors in the maturity department, here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:50pm

      Re:memer when you were going to quit posting here

      Pepperidge farm remembers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 1:02pm

      Please prove that Google employees have placed their own political biases into Google’s search algorithms. (Note: A Google employee expressing a political opinion with which you disagree does not count as “proof”.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2018 @ 9:43am

      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!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:23pm

    "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.”

    Those only come from Toilet Tweets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:25pm

    "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."

    Is it written in crayon and any word over 5 characters is misspelled?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      Shit, did my grandfather escape again?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Steve, 24 Sep 2018 @ 12:54pm

      Response to: Baron von Robber on Sep 24th, 2018 @ 12:25pm

      > Is it written in crayon and any word over 5 characters is misspelled?

      Lol. No, they don't write like you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 24 Sep 2018 @ 11:43pm

      Re: Is it written in crayon and any word over 5 characters is mi

      Isn’t it funny how Trump supporters are now coming pre-insulted for your convenience? You no longer need to mention him by name for them to know who you’re referring to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bt, 24 Sep 2018 @ 1:57pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:47pm

    'Nonsense, that's bad, that means I couldn't have written it!'

    Assuming it wasn't Yelp who tried to slip it through, I imagine it was mostly a matter of testing the waters, and once they saw the backlash suddenly no one has any idea about anything related to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 24 Sep 2018 @ 2:54pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    norahc (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 3:01pm

    Wait...with all the surveillance that is performed on people every day they can't figure out who wrote a memo in their own back yard?!?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 5:08pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2018 @ 6:50pm

      Re:

      They don't care about the vets, they say thank you for your service and they are supposed to just disappear into the sunset or something - it is disgusting how our veterans are treated .. actually they are not being treated as in health care.

      /rant

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 24 Sep 2018 @ 9:29pm

    It was written by Not Me, the same troublemaker who writes all childish excuses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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