- The US Justice Department said in a statement that it would convene a meeting to discuss whether social-media platforms are purposefully stifling free speech and obstructing competition.
- The DOJ said it would meet with other, unspecified state attorneys general.
- The statement comes a week after President Donald Trump accused Google of bias against conservatives and raised the prospect of antitrust issues involving Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet with several state attorneys general to discuss whether social-media companies are “intentionally stifling” free speech and obstructing competition, the Department of Justice said on Wednesday.
The move represents a significant escalation of the political scrutiny facing tech firms and comes a week after President Donald Trump accused Google of shutting out conservative voices.
Executives from Facebook and Twitter, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, appeared on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify at a Senate hearing examining how foreign powers like Russia have used social media to spread propaganda and wage shadowy influence campaigns. But conservative politicians have also focused on what they allege has been an effort by the platforms to muzzle conservative voices.
“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,” a DOJ spokesman, Devin O’Malley, said in a statement to Business Insider on Wednesday.
The meeting will take place on September 25, Business Insider has learned, though it is not yet clear which state attorneys general will attend.
The DOJ did not provide details or specific examples of how the social-media companies might be “hurting competition,” nor did it elaborate on the allegations of censorship.
But there has been a growing drumbeat of criticism of the tech companies from conservative quarters, with Trump and some of his allies at the forefront.
In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Trump said that companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon could represent a “very antitrust situation.” And Trump’s former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, said last Wednesday that tech companies should be broken up.
The DOJ said it timed the statement to come out after the Senate hearing on Wednesday, adding that it had listened “closely” to the proceedings.
Here’s the full statement from the DOJ:
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