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President Donald Trump blasted the social media giants on Friday including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter for Left-wing bias, adding that his administration is “working to remedy this illegal situation.”
“The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events,” the president wrote in a tweet, ironically.
The president’s comments came on the heels of a report in The Wall Street Journal claiming that the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general led by Texas AG Ken Paxton could file an anti-trust suit against Google as early as this summer.
The paper, citing officials familiar with the legal action, said the DoJ and the AG’s “are well into planning for litigation, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The report noted further:
“Much of the states’ investigation has focused on Google’s online advertising business. The company owns the dominant tool at every link in the complex chain between online publishers and advertisers. The Justice Department likewise is making Google’s ad technology one of its points of emphasis. But it is also focusing more broadly on concerns that Google uses its dominant search business to stifle competition, people familiar with the matter said.”
The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has slowed work on the case at the Justice Department, but the WSJ reported that Attorney General William Barr has nevertheless assigned considerable resources to the Google investigation and it remains one of his priorities.
Barr told the paper in March that he would let Justice Department officials make the final judgment this summer as to whether or not to proceed with a case.
“I’m hoping that we bring it to fruition early summer,” Barr said at the time. “And by fruition I mean, decision time.”
Meanwhile, Paxton said that the COVID-19 pandemic had not slowed down state efforts.
“We’ve issued [civil subpoenas] to Google and impacted third parties. We hope to have the investigation wrapped up by fall,” Paxton told the paper in a statement. “If we determine that filing is merited we will go to court soon after that.”
For Google’s part, officials indicated the tech behemoth was cooperating with ongoing probes.
“We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton, and we don’t have any updates or comments on speculation. Our focus is firmly on providing services that help consumers, support thousands of businesses and enable increased choice and competition,” said a spokeswoman.
Sources told the WSJ that the Justice Department has shared information about the case with Texas and other state officials. It’s not clear if states will file their own cases against Google and its parent company, Alphabet, or whether the AGs will join the federal suit.
While Texas has primarily been focused on Google’s ad technology, other states and interested parties are equally concerned that the company is stifling or otherwise altering search functions.
And, judging by President Trump’s tweets, it appears as though his administration is focused on what some have perceived as political bias, and not just with Google.
Conservatives have been especially critical of social media, which has been blamed for silencing or banning right-leaning content and voices.
Twitter deleted this tweet after @realDonaldTrump shared it.
Censorship in America is out of control! pic.twitter.com/LBBaFiG0By
— America First Clips 🇺🇸☝📽 (@af_clips) May 16, 2020
In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission, which shares antitrust authority with the Justice Department, conducted an investigation but ultimately concluded there was not enough evidence to file suit. The company decided to make some voluntary changes to its business practices.
At the time, the FTC’s then-chairman, Jon Leibowitz, said some evidence existed that Google was unfairly altering its search algorithms to hurt competitors, but on balance, the company was largely attempting to promote its products and help users.
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