Trump says he ‘can’t comment’ on breaking up Facebook, Amaz…
President Trump said Thursday that he “can’t comment” on possibly using antitrust law to break up major technology companies that he accuses of anti-conservative bias.
“I just can’t comment. I won’t comment on the breaking up, of whether it’s [Google] or Amazon or Facebook,” Trump said, Bloomberg journalist Jennifer Jacobs reported on Twitter.
Trump reportedly observed, however, that some people do see an “antitrust situation” with the companies, according to Jacobs, who interviewed Trump in the Oval Office with two colleagues.
“Look, the conservatives have been treated very unfairly,” Trump said, echoing a weeks-long rhetorical attack on alleged bias in social media policy and search results.
Antitrust law is enforced by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission, and politicians from both parties have argued that Google and Facebook are vulnerable to litigation over their advertising practices.
A 2012 FTC report recommended legal action against Google. This week Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, requested a new FTC investigation of Google.
Together, Google and Facebook control more than half of the digital ad market. Amazon, meanwhile, is a major online retail and cloud computing company. Trump has also criticized Twitter.
As of Friday, an administration official told the Washington Examiner there were no internal moves to craft a regulatory or legislative response to alleged bias by tech companies, which this month banned or suspended prominent nonmainstream commentators. Separately, some conservatives allege “shadow banning” by Facebook and Twitter, meaning their posts aren’t displayed to followers.
The major companies have denied bias, saying they are responding to abusive behavior, or that there are innocent algorithmic explanations.
In recent public remarks and statements on Twitter, Trump has accused social media companies of “censorship,” and on Tuesday morning, he expanded his criticism to Google, saying search results were skewed in favor of hostile publications.
Trump’s most recent public criticism of tech companies has not focused on Amazon, a longtime source of Trump’s scorn because its owner Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post. Trump accuses the company of underpaying the U.S. Postal Service.