Trump stance could be bad news for all
If the White House does go ahead with regulation after the US president blamed Google for his poor press, it may set a terrible precedent
It’s tough being big tech lately, and Google especially. It’s facing fines in the billions in the European Union for breaching antitrust laws and for rigging consumer choices in search results. Hundreds of its own staff are in revolt against a plan to re-enter China by recalibrating its search engine to meet mainland censorship laws. And, in one of his typical rage-tweeting sessions, US President Donald Trump singled out Google as being responsible for the bad press he is getting. He claimed the Google search for “Trump News” is “RIGGED”, “so that almost all stories & news is BAD”.
Trump later broadened his attack to include Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies. White House officials such as economic adviser Larry Kudlow have threatened regulation, without providing details. In a time-honoured tradition, Trump is blaming the messenger for delivering the bad news. Even without news aggregators such as Google, it’s almost certain that mainstream news outlets, the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, would still be turning out stories not to the president’s liking.
If it does go ahead with regulation, the Trump White House may be setting a bad precedent, not only at home but also abroad. What’s to stop other powerful leaders and groups from demanding news aggregation to their own liking? In fact, industry direction is already moving in a way Trump would favour, even without regulation.
The use of artificial intelligence is being pioneered by such tech giants as Google, Facebook and Spotify, the music service website that can guess your taste from past listening and offers new suggestions to you. Increasingly accurate profiles of our personal characteristics, tastes and preferences are being developed and automated by such tech companies. The current bias of Google news searches only seems to relate to the newness of stories or those that are trending, rather than following any overt political agenda.
But news aggregators can easily deliver news and views that cater to the political beliefs of individuals, as Google does with consumer searches. News readers are, after all, just consumers of news, so why not give them what they want? Maybe before his presidency ends, Trump will be able to see only news that praises him to the sky.