Allegations of social media bias and censorship has remained a hot topic for debate, especially as President Donald Trump has continued to weigh in over the past several weeks.
According to Breitbart, U.S. Attorney General William Barr added to the conversation during a recent Fox News Channel interview, during which he accused tech companies of being “engaged in censorship” and acting as “publishers” instead of independent platforms.
The AG went on to suggest that the federal government could take legal action to address the issue, including a loophole that allows sites like Twitter to straddle the line between a resource that permits free expression and a publisher that regulates content.
“They had a lot of market power”
Barr’s remarks came during a portion of his interview with host Bret Baier on Tuesday’s installment of Special Report. The attorney general said Trump had instructed him to look into allegations of censorship — including the president’s own tweets.
“So you think these firms are somehow censoring the president and his supporters?” Baier asked, according to Breitbart.
Barr replied that certain entities are “clearly” involved in such schemes, which he said is antithetical to the perception of these companies as bastions of open debate and freedom of speech.
“And they originally held themselves out as open forms where people, where the third parties could come and express their views, and they built up a tremendous network of eyeballs,” Barr said, as Breitbart reported. “They had a lot of market power based on that presentation.”
“Censoring particular viewpoints”
Now, however, Barr complained that major players in the industry “are acting much more like publishers, because they’re censoring particular viewpoints and putting their own content in there to diminish the impact of various people’s views.”
Baier pressed his guest on the potential “action” the Justice Department could take in response.
“Well, we are looking, as many others are, at changing Section 230, which is a rule that provides some protection for these companies,” Barr said, acknowledging the host’s point that such an update would require congressional approval, Breitbart noted.
In addition to Trump’s advocacy for repealing the provision included in the Communications Decency Act, Barr delivered a speech in February providing details about Section 230 and possible ways to reform the largely outdated law.
It remains unclear what, if any, real action the Trump administration is prepared to take in the near future. Simply having leaders willing to make bold statements like Barr’s, however, is enough to give some of the president’s supporters hope for a fairer social media landscape.