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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Filed Under: administration, executive order, political bias, social media, white house
Companies: google, yelp

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


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

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