As Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg testify before Congress over a number of issues, including election integrity and the bias shown by social media and big tech against conservatives on their platforms, news breaks that the Trump administration is officially moving against social media giants.
The testimony of Dorsey and Sandberg will be shown, via video at the bottom of this article, but the breaking news comes from two fronts.
First we see from The Hill that Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions has scheduled meetings with a number state AG's to discuss the issues and "growing concerns" that big tech companies are "intentionally stifling" free speech and the ramifications of those forums "hurting competition" with their censorship practices.
Via a statement from DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley: "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."
Given President Trump's recent focus, via statements, interviews and on his Twitter account, regarding social media and big techs censorship and liberal bias, it was widely believed that his administration would be looking into those claims, much of which has been documented via analytics, charts and graphs and the undeniable loss of revenue affecting Independent Media since the 2016 presidential election.
This news came sooner than most of expected, but the timing cannot be understated as the DOJ statement came right towards the end of Dorsey and Sandberg's congressional appearance.
The announcement also signals that the Justice Department is paying attention to the growing movement to challenge Facebook and Google's market power.
Last week, Trump said the companies might have antitrust problems but declined to discuss whether they should be broken up.
Google has been dogged by massive antitrust fines in Europe, where regulators have accused the company of using its dominance in internet search, mobile operating systems and online advertising to suppress competition.
Facebook is also facing antitrust scrutiny in the EU.
But the U.S. has yet to take any action against the internet giants over their market power.
Social Media giants and big tech have denied that political considerations affect the decision making process that has led to the claims of censoring conservatives, yet Independent Media and conservative websites, and right-leaning social media users, have been affected far more than liberal media outlets and progressives online.
This was highlighted in a bombshell report by VICE back in July 2018 that found a number of prominent conservatives, including the RNC chairwoman, and President Trump's 2020 campaign manager, along with a number of Republican congressman were excluding from Twitter's auto-complete search feature, with no Democratic member of congress being affected similarly.
Democrats are not being “shadow banned” in the same way, according to a VICE News review. McDaniel’s counterpart, Democratic Party chair Tom Perez, and liberal members of Congress — including Reps. Maxine Waters, Joe Kennedy III, Keith Ellison, and Mark Pocan — all continue to appear in drop-down search results. Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search.
Reminder: In mid-April Alex Jones was blocked, banned, terminated and disassociated with Facebook, YouTube, Apple, Google Podcast, Spotify, TuneIn, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, Audioboom, Pinterest, MailChimp, Stitcher Disqu,s Sprout Social, LinkedIn, Flickr, Vimeo, Shopify, Criteo, Tumblr, Ustream.tv, and RadioNet, all in a matter of hours in what appeared to be coordinated effort to limit his online presence.
I offer that reminder because of the the news from the second front directly relates to what that type of coordination potentially means legally.
Today, Larry Klayman, the founder of both Judicial Watch and now Freedom Watch and a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor who was on the trial team that broke up the AT&T monopoly during the Reagan administration, announced the filing of a class action lawsuit which, among many counts, alleges that social media giants Google/You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Instagram conspired by entering into an explicit or tacit agreement, in parallel to each other, to restrain trade in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. See Freedom Watch v. Google/You Tube et. al (Civil Action Number 18-cv-2030, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia).
Specifically, the class action complaint alleges that the intent and effect of this agreement in restraint of trade is to quash and/or limit advocacy by conservative and pro-Trump public interest groups, advocates and others to further the leftist anti-conservative agendas of these social media giants and to help bring down the Trump presidency and nullify the vote of the millions of citizens who voted for the president. These alleged illegal and anticompetitive actions are an integral part of the so-called "resistance" to remove President Trump and install a leftist government over the 50 states.
According to the 21-page complaint which is embedded below, Freedom Watch is individually, and on behalf of others similarly situated,initiating this class action lawsuit, with the "class" being defined as "all politically conservative organizations, entities and/or individuals who create and/or distribute media content and advocacy who have experienced illegal suppression and/or censorship of their media content by Defendants."
While Clayman is known to be litigious, he also specializes in anti-trust issues, the same type of issues that President Trump has mentioned in regards to big tech's coordination to limit conservative and Independent News via censorship, showing this line of defense against big tech is one that has legal "teeth," for lack of a better term.
Clayman briefly explains the lawsuit below:
Read the entire complaint below:
This censorship of conservatives and Independent Media is something we have noted, and documented throughout the last 19 months here at ANP, as others have. The suppression by social media and big tech has led to the closing of websites such as Red Flag News, which directly cites said suppression as the reason on their now-defunct site.
After 9 years of being a pioneer and leader in alternative news aggregation, RedFlagNews.com closed its doors on December 31, 2017.
With more than 10M readers who visited both our app and website, we had built a community of trust and loyalty in online news media; something rare to find in 2018; nevertheless, it was clearly not enough to sustain the onslaught of suppression by Google and Facebook after the 2016 election.
Seeing news of not only the class action lawsuit, but also the Trump administration taking concrete steps to gather information and address what we have been detailing for the past year, is indeed, welcome news.
The senate testimony by Sandberg and Dorsey can be seen below, which focused more on election interference than the censorship issues, but the testimony (still going live as of this writing) in front of the House committee (2nd video below), is where he feels a bit more heat regarding censorship.
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