U.S. Justice Department says probing social media companies for stifling ‘free exchange of ideas’

“The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it will meet with state attorneys general to discuss concerns that social media platforms were ‘intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas,'” Reuters reports.

“In the statement, spokesman Devin O’Malley said that the department had monitored a hearing of a Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, where Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. executives defended their companies before skeptical lawmakers,” Reuters reports. “‘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,’ O’Malley said in a statement.”

Reuters reports, “The companies have been criticized for what others see as an effort to exclude conservative voices.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You knew that was coming, too.

Twitter permanently bans Alex Jones and Infowars accounts – September 6, 2018
White House probes Google after President Trump accuses it of left-wing bias – August 29, 2018
President Trump attacks ‘left-wing’ Google search results – August 28, 2018
President Trump: ‘I would rather have fake news’ than censorship – August 22, 2018
ACLU: Apple’s ban of Alex Jones and Infowars could set dangerous social media precedent – August 22, 2018
President Trump blasts social media ‘censorship’ – August 18, 2018
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: I ‘fully admit’ our bias is ‘more left-leaning’ – August 20, 2018
Twitter bans Alex Jones from posting on Twitter for seven days – August 15, 2018
Apple is monitoring Alex Jones’ Infowars app for content violations as it becomes 3rd-most downloaded app this week – August 9, 2018
Alex Jones: Infowars has racked up 5.6 million new subscribers in the past 48 hours – August 8, 2018
Tim Cook sends Mark Zuckerberg, YouTube, and Spotify scrambling over Infowars’ Alex Jones – August 8, 2018
Jack Dorsey explains why Twitter isn’t banning Alex Jones and Infowars – August 8, 2018
Infowars’ Alex Jones blasts Apple, Google, others; warns on internet censorship – August 7, 2018
Apple’s ‘Infowars’ move thrusts tech giant into the debate over censoring content on internet platforms – August 6, 2018
Apple removes most of Alex Jones’ Infowars podcasts from iTunes Store – August 6, 2018
The Boston Globe Editorial Board: Break up Google – June 16, 2018
Bernstein: Google to pay Apple $3 billion this year to remain the default search engine on iPhones and iPads – August 14, 2017
James Damore: Why I was fired by Google – August 12, 2017
European Union hits Google with record $2.73 billion fine for abusing internet search monopoly – June 27, 2017
Google’s Eric Schmidt wore staff badge at Hillary Clinton’s ‘victory’ party – November 16, 2016
WikiLeaks emails show extremely close relationship between Clinton campaign and Google’s Eric Schmidt – November 1, 2016
Eric Schmidt-backed startup stealthily working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House – October 9, 2015
Obama to reward Google’s Schmidt with Cabinet post? – December 5, 2012
Google outfoxes U.S. FCC – April 17, 2012
Google Street View cars grabbed locations of cellphones, computers – July 26, 2011
Consumer Watchdog calls for probe of Google’s inappropriate relationship with Obama administration – January 25, 2011
FCC cites Android ‘openness’ as reason for neutered ‘Net Neutrality’ – December 22, 2010
U.S. FCC approves so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations – December 21, 2010
Wired: Google, CIA Invest in ‘future’ of Web monitoring – July 29, 2010


  1. Where, exactly, does it say that private parties in America have any legal duty not to stifle the speech of people who disagree with the policies that the private party sets for the use of its own private property? Where does it say that the Federal or state governments have the legal authority to dictate the content appearing on a privately-controlled medium? How does that differ from dictating the editorial decisions of a newspaper or magazine? How is any of that consistent with the constitutional prohibition of government actions that abridge freedom of speech, press, association, and petition? If you want to be an originalist, how can you possibly think that James Madison would have exempted Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple from the protection of the First Amendment?

    1. Your entire repetitive argument is that private companies have a right to practice censorship of conservative voices. Imagine if the shoe was on the left foot. You would be screaming bloody murder! The problem is we have social media monopolies manipulating algorithms, lying in the media to promote leftist views and DISCRIMINATE against conservative voices day in and day out. Because you are a leftist activist you have no problem with that and DEFEND conservative CENSORSHIP! You have ZERO credibility to preach to us about free speech …

        1. You have to be kidding? The hallmark of the Obama administration was weaponizing the DOJ, IRS and Fed circuit courts! This permission to politically ostracize and discriminate based upon ideology and activism is what gave the likes of twitter, facebook etc etc confidence to do what they are currently doing. There’s no governor.

          A word of warning to *whichever* side of the political spectrum yopu subscribe: be careful what you wish for– what comes around goes around..

            1. Nixon TRIED to use government against political foes and was not very successful.

              Obama on the other hand actually used them not only against political enemies but everyday citizens.

              LBJ was in a completely different era and had enough power before being President to instill fear.

            2. You mean like Black churches that are allowed to be politicized while others aren’t allowed?

              You mean like unions that “steal” money from workers and use it to finance Democrat campaigns?

              You mean like Community Action organizations that buy votes from inner cities like Obama used to run.

              No, you don’t. He didn’t stop any Leftist organizations, only Conservative. I could go on for paragraphs.

              And also “in essence” is your opinion and what they used to justify their actions.

      1. Wrong again, GeoB. I would have screamed every bit as loudly if a Democratic Party administration had tried to suppress freedom of the press, speech, and association. The First Amendment applies to everyone or it protects no one.

        I’m not aware of any such effort, which is why I didn’t protest it. I am aware that the Justice Department and some friendly state officials are currently trying to dictate the editorial content of several private media companies. I am protesting that, as should any American who values their freedom from government interference with their right of dissent.

        1. Wrong yourself, TXUser, One thing they are being accused of stifling free speech. They tout themselves as gatherers of ALL data being ‘spoken’. News sources do have the right, although it is totally biased on all sides, to pick and choose what they publish.
          Google, Twitter and Facebook have presented themselves as a news, opinion gathering service for all data. Their algorithms choose only what they want to be ‘heard’. That is the definition of suppression of free speech.

          1. The algorithms are not designed to pick one type of speech over another. They are designed to give people the information that they are searching for. The latter is difficult enough to do, trying to do both is very difficult.
            Google doesn’t do a special “Donald Trump” search algorithm, either. All their stuff is generic, based on attributes of the source. So if you search for “village idiot,” it uses the same algorithm as searching for “new macs.”

        2. Ok, what about Alex Jones “dissent?”

          I don’t read a SINGLE WORD from you defending him.

          When I want to watch frauds and phonies, typically turn on CNN and also read some of your posts …

          1. Nor will you read a single word from me defending Stalin or Hitler. Are you suggesting that American newspapers in 1940, including The Jewish Standard, had an obligation to support free speech by running pro-Nazi articles? The First Amendment allowed them to control their own editorial policies. To repeat myself ad nauseum, what makes Twitter so different that it can be legally forced to promote Alex Jones?

    2. “how can you possibly think that James Madison would have exempted Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple from the protection of the First Amendment?”

      Simple. People have Constitutional Rights, not companies.

      1. I don’t think that Madison contemplated that the government could force the New York Times or National Review to print articles favorable to the government, just because they are owned by corporations.

        1. It is not the NYT, NR, FB, TW that are publishing the information, it’s the speakers that access it. I would go so far as to absolve the companies from the words of the speakers.

          If I won’t let my government censor me, don’t assume I will allow a company to do it! Sign a bilateral contract!

      2. Excellent point.

        Not only that and believe you mentioned this before — they are in the communications business — same as the New York Times, et al. transmitting information over the Internet, etc.

        Terms of service for certain companies has turned into a legal right to discriminate and censor political voices, something I always thought the left would be the FIRST to object. Now they are in full support if it helps them politically.

        This needs to be looked at officially, in my view. To be fair, I would be just as adamant about this if liberal voices were censored and discriminated against. I know you know that.

        Unfortunately, we are dealing with hyper partisans on this forum that forgot the Constitution and could not care less if it works in their favor …

    1. I don’t know. I very much fear that his answer would depend on the content of the speech that the government sought to regulate or promote. I was always taught that the government was forbidden to favor one non-criminal private message over another, but that distinction seemed to be fading even on the pre-Kavanaugh Supreme Court.

      I would never have believed, for example, that the same judges who held that it was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment for a state to require crisis pregnancy centers to inform their clients about abortion providers could hold that it was perfectly OK for a state to require abortion providers to inform their clients about crisis pregnancy centers.

      That sort of asymmetry could be particularly consequential since Judge Kavanaugh is reported to have referred to The Pill today during his confirmation hearing as an “abortion-inducing drug.” The constitutional basis alleged for Roe v. Wade is one and the same as the basis for Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down a law making it a crime for married couples to use contraceptives. Both rulings rely on a right to privacy being implicit in the Constitution, though not explicit in the text.

      I’m not sure how you strike down one case without the other, with every other court decision since 1965 that relied on a constitutional right to privacy at equal risk. The sodomy laws struck down in 2003 weren’t just directed at homosexuals, but equally at married couples who engaged in the prohibited behavior. Without a constitutional right to privacy, I don’t know why a state couldn’t bring that law (and many others) back into force. Justice Kennedy was the one vote keeping that from happening.

      1. The difference between an abortion (especially if the “clinic” is publicly funded) and other alternatives for children is the fact an abortion is not a “right” but a regulated procedure that is a final option.

        This final option has proven to affect and haunt many women for decades, wishing they had made a different choice. They are not claiming the procedure shouldn’t be available, but that other choices should be offered.

        An abortion is final. I had similar consultation before my vasectomy 32 years ago.

  2. Apparently, the right wing has plenty of snowflakes, and they seem to melt as a faster rate then the ones that they complain about.

    After conducting some research, I’ve figure that there are about 15 people who really use this site.

  3. I’m confused here. If a bakery should not be forced to bake a cake for a gay couple based morals, why is not ok for twitter to refuse service to Alex Jones based their morals?

  4. I think y’all need to re-read the Constitution again – the 1st Amendment forbids the government from controlling or compelling speech. It does not forbid private companies from doing so.

    The issue with social media companies is that they have become public forums because of their massive size and influence and advertise themselves as open forums. As such, they are subject to anti-trust laws governing false advertising and also that public forums must also adhere to gov’t standards of free speech.

    If Twitter changed their standards to be a forum for liberal thought, that would be different.

    1. Once again, where in the First Amendment, or in any judicial decision construing the First Amendment, does it say that “public forums must adhere to gov’t standards of free speech”? The whole point of the amendment was to forbid the government from establishing standards for permissible speech.

        1. You have asked the question several times and NO answer. Obviously you hit the mark. It makes perfect sense because laws are in place to protect people and free speech is served. If a lawsuit is filed, then suspend that post until it is legally resolved. To outright BAN and CENSOR the person FOREVER is knee jerk and has more to do with politics than protecting free speech. The company can always add a disclaimer for further clarification and protections …

      1. According to that standard, and all the arguments made in favor of controlling the ecosystem, Apple could then tell me what I can say in my email when used on Apple devices, publish using iPhotos, or any of their tools, be it hardware or software.

        Clearly something’s amiss.
        No company is the law.

  5. There is a difference between active and passive publication. A newspaper actively approves and publishes every word and image. A platform like Facebook or Twitter et al provide a platform which passively publishes the content that their users actively create, approve, and publish.

    Both are entitled to set rules and enforce them. The newspaper enforces it’s rules prior to publication, and the platform after publication.

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