DOJ Invites 24 State AGs to Jeff Sessions Meeting About Breaking Up Google, Facebook
On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that nearly half of the state attorneys general would be invited to a September 25 meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss whether social media companies are violating anti-trust laws. The DOJ announced the meeting last week, following the congressional testimony of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
"Following last week’s statement, the Justice Department received an increased level of interest from state attorneys general in attending the September 25 meeting on tech companies, competition, and free exchange of ideas," a DOJ spokesman told PJ Media on Thursday afternoon. Due to this increased interest, Sessions has invited more attorneys general.
"Today, the Justice Department formally sent invitations to a bipartisan group of twenty-four state attorneys general that expressed an interest in attending the meeting hosted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions," the spokesman added. "The meeting will take place here at the Department of Justice, and we look forward to having a robust dialogue with all attendees on the topic of social media platforms."
While many state AGs have investigated Google and Facebook in the past — and many investigations are ongoing — a few select attorneys general began mulling the idea of a coordinated investigation earlier this year. Sessions has taken the lead for this event, which originally was only going to include the attorneys general from five states: Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Texas.
Many attorneys general have sued Facebook and Google specifically, and not just on the conservative side of the aisle. Rhode Island's Democrat AG Peter Kilmartin forced Google to surrender $500 million for selling illegal drugs in 2011. Mississippi's Democrat AG Tim Hood has taken Google to court twice over illegal drugs, pirated movies, and personal data. Washington state Democrat AG Bob Ferguson sued Facebook and Google over records for political ads this summer.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley perhaps began the latest round of investigations when he announced a broad anti-trust and consumer-protection investigation into Google last November. This April, he subpoenaed Facebook in order to ensure proper protection of private consumer data.
Earlier this week, PJ Media reached out to every Republican attorney general to see if Sessions had invited them to the meeting. Many said they did not receive an invitation, Hawley included. Sources have suggested that the original meeting would be a working group, to discuss these issues in private. If that was ever the goal, it seems that ship has sailed.
Conservatives have long expressed suspicion that Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been censoring their content. Recent events have only underscored those questions, especially since Tucker Carlson reported on a letter in which a Google executive bragged about increasing Latino voter turnout in the 2016 election, thinking it would help Hillary Clinton.