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Texas, South Carolina to attend Justice Dept. meeting on social media

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The attorneys general of Texas and South Carolina, both Republicans, will send representatives to a meeting called by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss concerns about conservative voices being stifled on social media platforms, making them the first states to show support for the Trump administration’s concerns about social media.

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building is seen in Washington, U.S., July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday that the Sept. 25 meeting would discuss competition issues and whether the social media giants intentionally stifled “the free exchange of ideas.”

Officials have declined to say if the meeting would be used to discuss regulations or other pressure on companies like Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc or Google owner Alphabet Inc, which have been accused by some conservatives of seeking to exclude conservative ideas.

South Carolina and Texas were the only two states contacted by Reuters that said they had been invited to the meeting. Spokespeople from the attorneys general offices in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, New York and Ohio all said that they were not invited to the meeting.

The Texas attorney general’s office will send a representative to the meeting because of concerns about “conservative voices … being suppressed on several social media platforms,” Marc Rylander, a spokesman for the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, said in an email statement.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson will either attend himself or send a representative to the meeting, according to spokesman Robert Kittle.

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President Donald Trump in July accused Twitter of restricting the visibility of prominent U.S. Republicans on the website in a practice called “shadow banning,” essentially limiting the visibility of a Twitter user. Twitter denied “shadow banning” anyone.

Karl Racine, the attorney general for Washington, D.C., and co-chair of the campaign arm for Democratic attorneys general, said he would participate in the event “if invited.”

Reporting by Diane Bartz, Dan Levine and Sarah Lynch; Editing by Leslie Adler


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