President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused of being biased against conservatives.
Now his administration wants to know if you feel the same way too. On Wednesday, the White House launched a website that lets you share information with the government if you believe your social media account has been suspended, banned or reported because of political bias.
The online form asks a series of questions, including what social media platform took action against your account. The list includes Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube, Instagram and offers an option for other sites. The form also asks for personal information, including names, phone numbers, zip codes, email addresses, and links or user names for social media platforms. The site asks whether a user is a US citizen and at least 18 years old, and gives visitors the opportunity to sign up for newsletters from the White House.
Some fields are followed by asterisks, but it's unclear whether the marking denotes required information. CNET tried filling in just the asterisked field on the form's first screen and got the following message: "Unfortunately, we can't gather your response through this form. Please feel free to contact us at WhiteHouse.gov/contact."
The White House didn't respond to a request for comment on how the information would be used. A spokesman told Bloomberg News that the collected information would "100 percent not" be shared with the president's re-election campaign.
Trump has complained that social media sites demonstrate a bias against conservative voices. Last year, he accused Twitter ofconservatives. Twitter said it was a bug. Shadow banning refers to the practice of making a comment or post visible only to the user who created it.
The White House used Twitter to promote the new site, tweeting, "No matter your views, if you suspect political bias has caused you to be censored or silenced online, we want to hear about it."
Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter have banned far-right leaders from their platforms, but the tech giants have also denied that it's because of a user's political views. The White House's launch of the website illustrates the growing tensions between political leaders and some of the world's largest tech companies.
"We enforce the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. "We are constantly working to improve our systems and will continue to be transparent in our efforts."
This month, Facebook booted Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who hosts InfoWars, as well as far-right commentators Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer from the social network and Instagram. The social network said the individuals violated its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. A day after the ban, Trump said he was aware of the situation, saying in a tweet that he will continue to monitor the "censorship" of Americans on social media platforms.
In April, Facebook and Twitter representatives also testified in aand denied the accusations.
Some free speech advocates criticized the White House's effort on Wednesday, arguing it could discourage social media platforms from combating hate speech, misinformation and other offensive content.
"This misguided effort by the White House raises serious constitutional questions and could hamper the ability of platforms to moderate their platforms and take down such content," John Bergmayer, senior counsel at the nonprofit Public Knowledge, said in a statement.
Asked about the criticism, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that the administration "wants to hear from all Americans – regardless of their political leanings – if they have been impacted by bias on social media platforms."
Facebook and YouTube didn't immediately responded to a request for comment.
The White House form asks visitors to agree to a user agreement that grants the government a license to "use, edit, display, publish, broadcast, transmit, post, or otherwise distribute all or part of the Content (including edited, composite, or derivative works made therefrom)."
Originally published May 15, 3:07 p.m. PT.
Update, 5:39 p.m.: Adds statement from Public Knowledge.
Update, May 16: Adds statement from the White House. Adds more detail on the amount of data the website asks for.