WASHINGTON—President Trump is considering establishing a panel to review complaints of anticonservative bias on social media, according to people familiar with the matter, in a move that would likely draw pushback from technology companies and others.
The plans are still under discussion but could include the establishment of a White House-created commission that would examine allegations of online bias and censorship, these people said. The administration could also encourage similar reviews by federal regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Election Commission, they said.
“Left-wing bias in the tech world is a concern that definitely needs to be addressed from our vantage point, and at least exposed [so] that Americans have clear eyes about what we’re dealing with,” a White House official said.
“The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” Mr. Trump tweeted May 16, adding that his administration is “working to remedy this illegal situation.”
Facebook Inc., which also owns Instagram, defended its practices when asked for a response to the nascent proposal.
“People on both sides of the aisle disagree with some of the positions we’ve taken, but we
remain committed to seeking outside perspectives and communicating clearly about why we make the decisions we do,” the company said.
Twitter Inc. said: “We enforce the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation. We are constantly working to improve our systems and will continue to be transparent and in regular communication with elected officials in regard to our efforts.”
A spokeswoman for Alphabet Inc.’s Google said the company builds its products “with extraordinary care and safeguards to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without any regard for political viewpoint.”
Jon Berroya, interim president of the Internet Association, a trade group, disputed the contention that tech companies tilt left.
“Online platforms do not have a political bias, and offer more people a chance to have their voice heard than at any point in history,” he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said any moves by the government carry significant risk of misfiring because of the companies’ free-speech rights and other concerns.
While it couldn’t be determined exactly what the administration might do, “we do know for certain that when the government tries to intervene in viewpoint-based content moderation decisions by private companies, what typically follows are debacles that undermine online privacy, safety and speech,” she said.
The administration also is considering new recommendations for revamping federal protections adopted by Congress in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which gives online companies broad immunity from liability for their users’ actions, as well as wide latitude to police content.