By Craig Timberg, Tony Romm, Devlin Barrett, and Brian Fung,, 9-5-18

The Justice Department warned on Wednesday that leading technology companies may be “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas” and hurting competition, an ominous development for an industry already under fire from Capitol Hill, President Trump and a range of conservative critics.

The two-sentence statement, which didn’t elaborate on the allegation or explicitly threaten legal action, echoed tweets by Trump last week claiming that the technology industry was biased against conservatives.  The White House later threatened new regulation of the search giant Google, which legal experts said would violate constitutional protections on free speech.

The Justice Department made its announcement at the conclusion of a Senate hearing in which Facebook and Twitter executives faced sharp questioning on a number of subjects – including allegations that social media platforms mute conservative voices.  Google offered to send an executive to the hearing, but the Senate committee rebuffed him because it wanted the chief executive of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to appear.

The combination of government action, including a coming meeting between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and several attorneys general, alarmed the technology industry.  » Read More