November 7, 2018 / 6:33 PM / 9 days ago

Trump would consider regulating social media but urges caution

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he would consider working with Democrats to regulate social media companies, after he and other conservatives accused companies such as Twitter Inc (TWTR.N), Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google of allegedly stifling right wing views.

In an extended news conference on Wednesday, Trump, however, urged caution in any effort to regulate the social media and technology companies. He did not spell out any specific rules that he would advocate.

“Believe it or not, I’m one that really likes free speech. A lot of people don’t understand that, but I am a big believer. And when you start regulating, a lot of bad things can happen,” Trump added.

Asked whether he would consider working with Democrats to regulate social media companies, Trump said, “I would do that, yeah. I would look at that.”

Creating new regulations would be inconsistent for a president who has made reducing regulation a goal of his administration. His officials have made numerous such efforts, in particular, toward cutting environmental and financial rules.

Just last month, Trump suggested that Twitter was biased against him and accused the company of deleting many of his followers and making it harder for users to follow him. In a tweet, he said that the company had “stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all.”

Twitter said then that any reduction was likely due to its recent moves to remove millions of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and other elections.

Despite his attacks, Trump remains an avid user of Twitter, which allows him to bypass TV news and newspapers in order to communicate directly with supporters.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Makini Brice and Diane Bartz; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot

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