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White House reportedly prepares order directing antitrust probe of tech companies amid accusations of political bias

Key Points
  • The White House is reportedly working on a memorandum for President Donald Trump to sign that would direct government agencies to "thoroughly investigate" whether social media companies such as Google or Facebook have violated U.S. antitrust laws, Bloomberg reported Saturday.
  • Social media company leaders, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief Jack Dorsey have denied that their platforms are politically biased.
President Donald Trump holds up an executive order that he signed during a meeting of the National Space Council at the East Room of the White House June 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed an executive order to establish the Space Force, an independent and co-equal military branch, as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

The White House is reportedly working on a memorandum for President Donald Trump to sign that would direct government agencies to "thoroughly investigate" big tech companies like Google and Facebook, Bloomberg News reported on Saturday, who have fended off accusations of political bias against conservatives.

A draft of that executive order, seen by Bloomberg, is in its preliminary stages and hasn't yet been run past other government agencies, a White House official told the publication. It also does not mention any specific companies.

Its current language would direct federal agencies to give recommendations ways to "protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias" within a month after being signed, according to the report.

However, the White House distanced itself from Bloomberg's report in a statement to CNBC. Aides told The Washington Post on Saturday they didn't know where the memo came from. They also cast doubt on whether it had been vetted through normal policy channels.

"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," deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters told CNBC in an emailed statement.

Business Insider also published the full leaked document Saturday. The text instructs the government agencies to "promote competition and ensure that no online platform exercises market power in a way that harms consumers, including through the exercise of bias."

Republican lawmakers and right-wing groups have long questioned whether social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google are guilty of an anti-conservative bias, and promoting Democratic or progressive political views.

Trump himself has levied those accusations repeatedly, which reached a crescendo when Twitter was hit by accusations of "shadow banning" right-leaning voices on its platform.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief Jack Dorsey and most recently Google's Sundar Pichai have denied that their platforms are politically biased.

State attorneys general are set to brief U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sept. 25 about their existing investigations into social media companies' practices.

Bloomberg's full report can be found on its website.