Justice Department will meet with states about tech companies allegedly ‘stifling’ ideasSeptember 5, 2018
Following today’s Senate committee hearing with Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg, the Justice Department has released an unexpected statement. The agency says it will soon convene a meeting of state attorneys general to discuss allegations that tech companies are “hurting competition” and “intentionally stifling” ideas.
While the statement does not fully lay out the implications, it seems to be referencing criticism from some conservatives who have levied questionable claims of political censorship against social media platforms. President Trump ignited the issue last week with dubious claims that Google’s search results were “rigged” against him, a charge that Google has denied.
The Justice Department says Attorney General Jeff Sessions has convened a meeting with “a number of state attorneys general this month.” The agenda, according to the statement, will include the “growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”
Amid continuing questions about Russian government meddling on social media, several Republican lawmakers have taken time to question the perceived biases of Big Tech. Mark Zuckerberg was questioned about the issue during congressional hearings, notably by Sen. Ted Cruz, and a House hearing was also held on the issue. (A Democratic lawmaker derided the latter as “stupid.”) Dorsey is scheduled for a second hearing this afternoon, where he may face further questions about the topic. But legal action from states or the federal government would be a major escalation from the current level of debate.
The Justice Department’s statement follows:
“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.”