Executives from Facebook and Twitter are testifying on Capitol Hill this week to defend what conservatives allege is an attack on free speech. For years these social network giants have been accused of shutting down conservative viewpoints in favor of liberal voices. But before their testimonies are complete, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just made it clear he intends to act, regardless of what they might say.
Sessions announced he will gather state attorney generals later this month to investigate what he calls the intentional “stifling” of voices in social media.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“In its statement, Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said the agency listened ‘closely’ to the morning’s testimony. He said Mr. Sessions has convened a meeting on Sept. 25 with state attorneys general ‘to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.’
“A Justice Department spokesman said alleged stifling of viewpoints has been a longstanding concern of Mr. Sessions and the meeting had been in the works before Wednesday morning’s hearing. He declined to say how many states would attend the meeting or which were invited.”
Predictably, Democrats are well in the corners of the social media giants. They argue that Republicans are trying to force them into an overcorrection that will favor the right. They also dismiss allegations that social media censors conservative opinions. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) called the idea that these platforms censor conservatives “debunked.”
The plan to address state attorney generals may be a tactic to force Twitter, Facebook, and Google to clean up their acts on their own. I don’t think anyone really wants the government to step in and try to regulate social networking, platforms they have very little understanding for. But if these giants believe government action is on the table then they might take action.