07 September 2018

US attorney-general wants to talk big tech

State attorney-generals are being summoned to discuss whether tech companies are 'intentionally stifling' free speech

US attorney general Jeff Sessions will meet a number of state attorneys general to discuss whether social-media companies are ‘intentionally stifling’ free speech and obstructing competition, the department of justice said.

Trump criticism

The meeting is due to take place September 25. The DOJ has not provided details or specifics of the allegations against social-media. However, there has been growing criticism of big tech companies from conservative groups, and President Donald Trump has directly accused Google of bias against conservatives and raised the prospect of antitrust issues involving Facebook, Google, and Amazon. President Trump told Bloomberg that companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon could represent a ‘very antitrust situation,’ while his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said that tech companies should be broken up.

Senate hearing

The DOJ released its statement to following a US Senate hearing on Wednesday and spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement, ‘we listened to today's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media platforms closely.’ Executives from Facebook and Twitter, including Twitter ceo Jack Dorsey and Facebook coo Sheryl Sandberg, testified at the hearing examining how foreign powers like Russia have used social media to spread propaganda and wage shadowy influence campaigns. Conservative politicians have also focused on what they allege is an attempt by the platforms to stifle conservative voices. Mr Dorsey defended Twitter against accusations that the company is biased against conservatives, saying Twitter tries to be neutral.