US Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined plans to hold high level talks with his state counterparts to discuss the impact of social media platforms on competition and free speech.
In a statement, the head of the country’s Department of Justice (DoJ) said he wants to address concerns social media companies including Google and Facebook are “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” and “hurting competition”.
These worries seem to be in keeping with fears previously expressed by President Donald Trump: the premier last week tweeted companies including Google “are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good”.
“They are controlling what we can [and] cannot see. This is a very serious situation”.
Trump has also accused Facebook, Twitter and Google of engaging in anticompetitive behaviour, albeit without offering any proof of such activity. All three companies have denied having any political bias.
Rights groups including the Computer and Communications Industry Association believe the DoJ’s concerns are misplaced. Matt Schruers, VP of the association, told Variety technology companies compete aggressively with one another and businesses outside of the tech sector. As a result, consumers have many choices for information services and news sources online.
“The attorneys general will find that a competing offering is always a few clicks away,” he told the magazine.
Earlier this week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief Jack Dorsey were grilled by the US Senate regarding their efforts to combat outside interference in US elections, particularly from Iran and Russia.
Google was notably missing from the hearing, having refused to send CEO Sundar Pichai or founder Larry Page. The Senate made it a point to highlight this by putting a placard with Google’s name in front of an empty chair.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back