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Why Apple May Take a Bigger Stand Against Trump Than Its Rivals

Why Apple May Take a Bigger Stand Against Trump Than Its Rivals

Why Apple May Take a Bigger Stand Against Trump Than Its Rivals

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Whatever happens at the Republican National Convention next month, one thing is clear: it won’t be brought to you by Apple. The company will not provide any funding or support for the convention, according to dispatches.

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Apple has been more outspoken on public policy issues than many of its Silicon Valley peers. A Politico report said its latest move was due to rhetoric from presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Many of Trump’s positions, particularly on immigration, clash with the policy positions of tech companies.

Apple, which declined to comment on the reports, is arguably in a unique position among tech companies to take big political stances. Not only does its size insulate it from certain backlashes, but it is also protected because the expression of political opinions does little damage to the reputation of its products.

This is not true for many other tech titans. Facebook has learned forcefully this election cycle that the appearance of fairness matters. After the controversy with “Trending Topics” and accusations of conservative censorship – accusations, it must be said, Facebook denies – it makes sense that the firm should act lightly to maintain a sense of neutrality. So despite Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg taking a fairly clear and public swipe at Trump, Facebook itself is sticking to the middle lane.

“Facebook will support both Republican and Democratic conventions equally and without endorsing a single candidate, issue, or political party,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy, said in a statement to The Washington Post. . “We think it’s important to encourage this ongoing conversation, because informed debate about candidates and issues is essential to the democratic process.”

Meanwhile, Google is in a similar position with its search engine. The company has vigorously denied reports that it biased its search engine results in favor of Hillary Clinton. Google will provide the technology to livestream the Republican and Democratic conventions, but did not say whether it plans to sponsor events or make other donations.

Apple, however, is still largely a company that makes phones and the personal items that go with them, rather than dealing with information. Although Apple is making inroads into the publishing industry with Apple News, its platform doesn’t have the same reach as Facebook or Google – and as a result, people don’t see it as an arbiter of the news. information in the same way. And so, despite the growing activism of Apple CEO Tim Cook, there are still plenty of people who use iPhones and disagree with Apple’s positions on policy issues.

There’s certainly no love lost between Apple and the Trump wing of the Republican Party either. Trump has repeatedly criticized Apple for its reliance on foreign labor as well as its stance – widely supported in Silicon Valley – to oppose FBI demands to unlock the San Bernardino phone , California, shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Still, it looks like Apple is committed to making friends on both sides of the aisle — Cook will host a fundraiser for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., according to a separate Politico report .

Trump seems to be the sticking point for Apple, as it seems to be for other companies as well. Apple’s move is also part of a broader campaign by advocacy group ColorofChange’s Political Action Committee, which has asked several companies to opt out of the Republican convention in protest at Trump’s remarks. .

Among technology companies, Hewlett-Packard also said it would not make cash donations at the convention. Microsoft announced that it would significantly reduce its stake. Motorola said it would make no donations to either convention.

Non-tech companies that have said they will not attend or reduce their attendance at the Republican convention include Coca-Cola, UPS, Ford, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Convention organizers did not respond to a request for comment.

ColorofChange spokesperson Rashad Robinson said his group had focused on tech companies to take a stand because they care about being forward-looking – and, according to his group , Trump’s rhetoric is not. This is not a campaign the group plans to run every four years, he said, but one he feels is necessary to fight Trump’s comments about women. , Muslims and immigrants.

The advocacy group has directed ads to employees of tech companies – targeting the IP addresses of high-profile firms – to drum up popular support among Silicon Valley ranks and files.

“Tech companies are in many ways signals of the future,” Robinson said. “They create the innovation and the tools of what we will use in the future. And if you think about the America that Donald Trump is attacking, that’s the America of the future.”

And while he said he understands that companies such as Facebook and Google need to be careful not to appear biased, he also thinks it would be possible to take a stand by refusing financial donations without compromising their neutrality.

“We understand the role of these platforms in covering events,” he said.

© 2016 The Washington Post

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