In the wake of testimony before a Senate committee hearing in which top officials from Facebook and Twitter testified, the Department of Justice issued a statement saying that it would be investigating social media firms.
“We listened to today’s Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Foreign Influence Operations’ Use of Social Media Platforms closely,” Devin O’Malley, a DOJ spokesman, said in a statement released to reporters on Wednesday morning.
“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 DOJ did not further explain by what criteria it would be examining these companies.
Google did not to send a representative to Capitol Hill in person, instead choosing to submit written testimony. However, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told the committee that the company was continuing to fight misinformation, fake news, and foreign interference.
Similarly, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey dismissed any allegations of his company’s bias during his testimony.
“Looking at the data, we analyzed tweets sent by all members of the House and Senate, and found no statistically significant difference between the number of times a tweet by a Democrat is viewed versus a Republican, even after our ranking and filtering of tweets has been applied,” he said.
For weeks now, some conservatives lead by President Donald Trump have claimed with scant evidence that tech companies are plotting against them. Even Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), recently encouraged the Federal Trade Commission to re-examine Google’s dominance in search and advertising.
Trump, in an interview with The Daily Caller also on Wednesday, reiterated this perspective, saying that he believed tech firms “already” had interfered with the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Given that Trump obviously won the 2016 election, it is hard to discern what exactly is meant by this claim.
“I mean the true interference in the last election was that—if you look at all, virtually all of those companies are super liberal companies in favor of Hillary Clinton,” Trump said.
“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.”
The president reiterated his claim that “Google and Facebook and Twitter,” all “treat conservatives and Republicans unfairly.”
“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,” Google has previously said.
Neither Twitter, nor Facebook, immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment.
Google spokesman Ian Plunkett emailed: “We don’t have anything to share.”