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US Justice Department Looks Into Social Media 'Stifling’ Free Speech

A statement published on Wednesday said that the US Justice Department will meet with the attorneys general to discuss social media platforms failing to remain impartial and battle the spread of disinformation.

Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions set up the meeting on September 25 "to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms."

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In a House of Representatives hearing this Wednesday, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, accused Twitter of making "mistakes" that, he said, minimized Republicans’ presence on the social media site, a practice conservatives have labeled "shadow banning." “Multiple members of Congress and the chairwoman of the Republican Party have seen their Twitter presences temporarily minimized in recent months, due to what you have claimed was a mistake in the algorithm,” Walden added.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey denied the allegations, saying that Twitter “don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions. Period. Impartiality is our guiding principle.” 

However, he agreed that recently the company had failed to provide the intended impartiality, and because of a mistake in the algorithms 600,000 accounts were filtered out from the search and latest results, including some of the members of Congress. According to Dorsey, the mistake has been fixed.

The lawmakers remained skeptical about whether the social media can stop the spread of disinformation. The Senate intelligence committee that had been looking into allegations that Russia was influencing the US public opinion throughout Trump’s presidency, stated in a separate hearing that Congress might need to act.

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Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said they were working hard to prevent a repeat of 2016 during the alleged Russian influence. “We’ve removed hundreds of pages and accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior — meaning they misled others about who they were and what they were doing," Sandberg told the committee.

Lawmakers also criticized Alphabet Inc, the owner of Google, for not sending its top executive to the Senate to testify. As a result, Google was represented in the hearing room by an empty chair. 

READ MORE: Twitter Won't Grant Donald Trump Immunity

The executives of Facebook and Twitter were called to testify in Congress and also were criticized by Donald Trump for repressing conservative voices. In his interview for the Daily Caller ahead of hearings, Trump accused social media of being "super liberal."

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