The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced it’s beginning a review into whether tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter have been stifling competition, suppressing innovation and harming customers.
The practices of social media companies have become the subject of much scrutiny after complaints that conservative voices are being censored and stifled in search results and social media posts.
The newest announcement follows a June agreement by the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into the business practices of Apple, Google’s parent company Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook.
The investigation will address broad concerns over whether Big Tech is stifling competition, and will be separate from the department’s probes of Google and Apple that were reported earlier this summer and are intended to take a closer look at individual potential violations. This particular review will look into search engines, social media platforms, and retail, but not focus on any individual company or practice.
In a press release, the Justice Department said the review “will consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.”
At Attorney General Barr’s confirmation hearing this past January, he told senators that he would like to see the Justice Department take a harder look at whether companies like Google and Amazon were abusing their market dominance.
“I’d like to have the antitrust [officials] support that effort to get more involved in reviewing the situation from a competition standpoint,” Barr said at the time. “I don’t think big is necessarily bad, but I think a lot of people wonder [how] these big behemoths have taken shape in Silicon Valley.”
In June, Project Veritas, headed by investigative journalist James O’Keefe, released undercover video showing Google executive Jen Gennai admitting the massive search and social media company is censoring its searches:
“We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like, happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again. We’re also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?”
She also bragged about not cooperating with congressional investigations:
“We got called in front of Congress multiple times, so we’ve not shown up because we know that they’re just going to attack us. We’re not going to change our, we’re not going to change our mind. There’s no use sitting there being attacked over something we know we’re not going to change. They can pressure us but we’re not changing. But we also have to be aware of what they’re doing and what they’re accusing us of.”
In several Senate subcommittee hearings, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed Google executives for the company’s blatant censorship, especially in light of Project Veritas’ video.
On July 11, President Donald Trump held a social media summit at the White House, inviting O’Keefe, Mark Dice, Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk and dozens of social media conservative and libertarian personalities. CNN labeled the attendees “right-wing extremists.”
In June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted he willfully censored pro-life ads on the social media platform leading up to the May 2018 Irish referendum making abortion legal.
He admitted, “[We] went to the Irish and asked ‘How do you want us to handle this?’ Their response at the time was ‘You know, we don’t currently have a law, so you need to make whatever decision you want to make.’ We ended up not allowing the ads.”
It’s not just conservatives who are enraged at political bias. Democrat presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is announcing a lawsuit against Google for “election interference.”
She maintains Google suspended her campaign’s Google Ads account on the eve of the first Democratic Party presidential debate.