Facebook, Google, and Twitter found themselves in President Donald Trump's crosshairs again today, as he claimed on Twitter, then at a news conference, that the three big tech companies are biased towards Democrats.
"I will be looking into this! #stopthebias," the president tweeted. The comment came in reaction to White House social media director Dan Scavino being blocked Monday afternoon from making public comments on Facebook, and President Trump insinuated that the social media company was acting out of a political motivation.
According to Reuters, Facebook responded that they had been in touch with Scavino and apologized, claiming this was an unintended result of the platform's policy on spam. In an effort to stop automated bots, Facebook caps the amount of identical and repetitive activity from one account in a short period of time.
It is unclear if Scavino's account is still blocked at this time.
Trump continued his offensive at a joint press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro this afternoon.
"Things are happening, names are taken off, people aren't getting through. And it seems to be if they're conservative, if they're Republicans, if they're in a certain group, there's discrimination — big discrimination. I see it absolutely on Twitter, and Facebook, which I have also, and others I see, but I really focus more on the one platform."Bloomberg News reported in September 2018 that the White House was looking into opening federal antitrust and law enforcement investigations into the practices of Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Facebook.
According to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a respected communications tracking company, Trump has far outspent his fellow 2020 candidates in social media advertising on Facebook and Google.
BPI reports the Trump campaign's spending on Google and Facebook ads has reached $5.6 million in 2019, with the second highest spender being Elizabeth Warren at $626,000.
In the week ending March 10, the Trump campaign spent nearly $500,000 on Facebook and Google ads. The second highest spender that week was by the Democratic presidential campaign of Washington Governor Jay Inslee at $107,000.
Brad Parscale, the digital director of Donald Trump's presidential election campaign in 2016, has said on multiple occasions that social media was key to the President's victory.
In an interview with CBS in October 2017, Parscale said the campaign went as far as to have Facebook employees embedded inside their offices to explain how to use the platform to target voters. Facebook said in a statement that it offered identical support to both the Clinton and Trump campaigns.
Former President Obama also credited social media with playing a big role in both of his presidential election victories.