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President Donald Trump is talking about the Iowa college student that was found slain about a month after she disappeared, despite the victim’s family asking that her death not be politicized. (Aug. 24)
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WASHINGTON – White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday that President Donald Trump is considering new regulations on Google’s search engine to address his concern that it turns up too many stories that are critical of him.

Pressed by reporters at the White House on Tuesday about a tweet the president wrote criticizing Google’s search engine as “rigged,” the director of Trump’s National Economic Council said the administration is “taking a look” at federal regulations for the company.

“We’ll let you know,” he said.

Earlier, Trump expressed frustration on Twitter that when Americans type “Trump News” into the search engine, it generates mostly negative news about him while conservative media is “shut out.”

Google said in a statement that its search engine is not designed with the intent of promoting a political ideology but is instead aimed at generating “high-quality content” in response to user queries.

“Search is not used to set a political agenda, and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,” said Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman. “We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

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Trump and Kudlow raised the prospect of regulating the company days before executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are set to answer questions on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee will question industry leaders during a Sept. 5 in a hearing focused on Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Trump’s decision to weigh in on Google came as the White House has been under siege for its handling of the death of Arizona Sen. John McCain. Trump faced criticism from veterans groups and lawmakers on Monday for raising the U.S. flag over the White House two days after it had been lowered to honor his former rival. 

Hours after that criticism erupted, Trump took the rare step of reversing his position, ordering the flag back down and issuing public remarks praising McCain. 

White House aides did not immediately respond to questions about Trump’s use of Google or what prompted his tweet on Tuesday. Trump’s tweet followed a report in a conservative media outlet over the weekend that suggested most Google search results for Trump pull up “liberal media outlets.” 

The headline of that story indicated that “96 percent” of results on Google are anti-Trump, the same percentage that Trump cited in his tweet. 

Trump’s position on Google has changed

Trump’s tweets on Tuesday marked a dramatic change in tone from last month when the president described Google as “one of our great companies.”

The president’s evolution on the issue appeared to begin weeks ago. Trump accused social media companies of “silencing millions of people” and earlier this month he said they discriminated against Republicans and conservatives.

Conservative claims that the liberal leaders and staffers of technology companies treat them unfairly have been simmering for years and have gained more steam heading into the November midterm elections. The companies have responded by scheduling a series of meetings with conservative leaders to reassure them. 

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Google, Facebook and Twitter have long cast themselves as neutral purveyors of information, attempting to strike a balance between users freely expressing themselves and keeping hate, abuse and misinformation off their platforms. But the opaque process that decides what content gets top billing routinely stirs controversy.

During the 2016 presidential election, conservatives accused Facebook of censoring right-leaning voices. In May, Facebook announced it had brought on advisers to probe whether it suppresses conservative voices.

The criticism could further undermine the public’s confidence in the nation’s largest tech companies, which are already under siege from revelations that Russian and Iranian operatives exploited their platforms to spread propaganda during the 2016 election.

The prospect of regulating Google’s search algorithms drew quick push back from some Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“You should read the First Amendment,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted to Trump. “Google has the right to, for example, prioritize cute cat videos over weird Alex Jones rants.

“If government tried to dictate the free speech algorithms of private companies,” he wrote, “courts would strike it down in a nanosecond.”   

Contributing: Jessica Guynn in San Francisco

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