It’s unclear what specific proposals or penalties the executive order — which comes one month after President Trump promised to explore “all regulatory and legislative issues” on the subject — actually contains. The order also deals with issues beyond regulating big tech, Politico reported, although it’s still in the early stages.
A White House official told FOX Business that the administration is “exploring all policy solutions.”
“If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system,” the White House official told Politico.
At a White House social media summit in July (not attended by Facebook or Twitter officials), Trump said that free speech will always be protected, but said that conservatives are getting the word out “in a different way.”
"I’m directing my administration to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech and the free-speech rights of all Americans. That’s you people in this room and a lot of people out there. There are a lot of people,” Trump said at the time, adding, “Big tech must not censor the voices of the American people.”
Trump and Republicans have long accused social media giants of harboring an anti-conservative bias, particularly after the 2016 presidential election, when tech companies took significant action to fight fake news and propaganda — some of which was sowed by Russian agents. While some tech company executives may lean liberal, they’ve maintained that their products do not have a political bias.
The administration could hit a regulatory wall, however; as Politico reported, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have both publicly said they don’t see the role for their agencies in policing companies’ online content.
“There’s very little in terms of direct regulation the federal government can do without congressional action, and frankly I think that’s a positive thing,” said John Morris, who handled Internet policy issues at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration before leaving in May.
Separate from the White House’s possible executive order, the Justice Department, at the end of July, announced a sweeping antitrust investigation of big tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon, to determine whether they’ve hurt competition.