WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department on Wednesday announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions will investigate claims that social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are censoring pages based on their conservative views.
The announcement came after a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was held in which top officials from Facebook and Twitter faced often intense grilling on whether or not they had ever targeted or “shadow banned” conservative pages for political gain, claims Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has repeatedly denied.
“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,” the statement said.
President Donald Trump has claimed that he, himself, has been the target of censorship and “fake news” by both the mainstream press and on social media and that he believes platforms including Facebook and Twitter often discriminate against conservatives based on their own left-leaning political bias.
“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at social media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side,” Trump said.
“What we’re concerned about is how Twitter has in some ways it looks like selectively, adversely affected conservatives,” Rep. Steve Scalise, (R)-La., said during Wednesday’s House hearing.
Scalise cited Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R)-Tenn., who claimed her Senate campaign announcement video was taken down by Twitter as an example. In response, Twitter claimed that the removal of Blackburn’s campaign video was “a mistake” which was quickly corrected, and apologized for the “error”.
Throughout his testimony, Dorsey pushed back several times, denying claims that he nor anyone to his knowledge at Twitter had ever targeted conservatives to further a political agenda.
“I want to start by making something clear: we don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions. Period,” he said. “Impartiality is our guiding principle.”
The Justice Department did not set a date for the upcoming meeting and it has not yet been revealed how many attorneys general will attend.