After spending the past couple of years condemning "fake news" and the "totally dishonest" media, Donald Trump has a new target: Big Tech. In recent weeks, Trump has escalated the tension between conservatives and the tech industry by claiming that Silicon Valley companies like Google and Facebook are censoring conservative voices. His eldest son agrees; in a conversation with Axios on Thursday, Don Jr. suggested Trump supporters needed a social network of their own to combat "tech bias."
There is "exactly zero doubt in my mind" that tech bias is real, Don Jr. told Axios on Thursday, reflecting an ongoing conflict between the Trump administration and tech giants. "I don't think [this issue] is going away, because I don't think it's changing."
Don Jr. also argued that "many of these platforms get many benefits from the government," and that social networks need more self-regulation. One solution for this, he told Axios, would be for a Trump supporter in the tech industry to design their own version of Facebook for conservatives. If a right-wing social media site like that existed, Don Jr. said, he would encourage Trump supporters to switch to it.
"I'd love to do it," Don Jr. told Axios. "But what I would prefer is, take one of the two Silicon Valley conservatives and let them start it. And then I'd help promote the platform and be all over that."
According to Vanity Fair, Don Jr.'s vision of a right-wing social network is not entirely far-fetched. He has nearly 3 million Twitter followers and 1.3 million followers on Instagram, all of whom he would likely encourage to make the switch in the event that such a site were created. However, as Vanity Fair pointed out, there is already a right-wing Twitter alternative that prides itself on supporting free speech — Gab, a platform launched in 2016. Although Gab was initially adopted by prominent right-wing figures like Milo Yiannopoulos, it was overrun by white nationalists and Nazis, and eventually declined in popularity.
But Don Jr.'s interest in a conservative alternative to existing social media sites might not just be a reflection of current Trump administration talking points. The president's oldest son also appears to have a personal stake in conservative arguments about tech bias; back in May, he accused Instagram of shadow banning him as part of an effort to censor conservative voices. Don Jr. also claimed that Instagram tried to warn users to avoid his page whenever they searched his name, although Bustle, USA Today, and other publications were unable to find any evidence of such a warning.
When Twitter users criticized him for promoting the creation a right-wing social network, Don Jr. insisted that he was "not looking for an echo chamber."
"Heck, I’d even support an unbiased version of any of them," Don Jr. tweeted on Thursday. "I’m just looking for a level playing field. No more bias! No more BS!"
Multiple tech companies have already contested the idea that they are "closing down the opinions of many people on the right," as the president put it earlier this month. On Tuesday, Google stated that its search "is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook's chief executive — said in an appearance before Congress earlier this year that he wanted the social network to “be a platform for all ideas.”