Justice Department: Sessions Looking at Conservative Censorship on Social Media
U.S. Attorney General to meet with top prosecutors and state officials
The Justice Department has announced on Wednesday that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet with top prosecutors and state officials to discuss claims that leading internet companies are stifling free speech.
The announcement by the DoJ follows recent claims by President Donald Trump of censorship by major social media firms due to the companies' political bias.
In August, the president warned Facebook, Twitter, and Google they were "treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful."
Sessions will meet with officials later this month to discuss concerns that tech companies "may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms," according to a statement by the Department of Justice on Wednesday.
The news comes just hours after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg testified before the Senate on Capitol Hill.
The two faced question during the hearing on election interference, as lawmakers reiterated their concerns over political censorship on the social media platforms, and the possibility of foreign meddling, including propaganda campaigns from Russia and Iran.
According to CNBC, the proposed meeting between the country's top prosecutor and state officials is the first major signal of potential antitrust action against Silicon Valley and follows recent claims by President Donald Trump of political bias and censorship by major social firms.
Last month, Trump said Facebook, Twitter and Google were "treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful."
He's also said the companies could be engaging in antitrust behaviors, without offering evidence for the claims.
Republicans and notable conservatives have claimed for months that social platforms were dampening their online reach.
In July, Trump accused Twitter of silencing Republican voices and vowed to "look into this discriminatory and illegal practice."
Twitter has repeatedly said it does not make decisions based on political ideology.
Facebook has similarly denied political bias, in some cases during sworn testimony before Congress.
Google, the particular focus of Trump's most recent attacks, has said the company doesn't "bias our results toward any political ideology."
Trump is far from the first to call for the breakup of big tech.
Google and Facebook together account for more than half of the digital advertising market in the U.S. — trailed by fellow tech behemoth Amazon.
Here's the full statement from Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley:
"We listened to today's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Foreign Influence Operations' Use of Social Media Platforms closely.
"The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms."