Sessions getting serious about tech company crackdown, will meet with state attorneys general

  • The proposed meeting between the country's top prosecutor and state officials follows recent claims by President Donald Trump of political bias and censorship by major social media firms.
  • Last month, Trump said Facebook, Twitter and Google were "treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful."
 Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Allison Shelley | Reuters
 Attorney General Jeff Sessions

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet with state attorneys general later this month to discuss concerns that tech companies "may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms," the Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.

The proposed meeting between the country's top prosecutor and state officials is the first major signal of potential antitrust action against Silicon Valley and follows recent claims by President Donald Trump of political bias and censorship by major social media firms.

Last month, Trump said Facebook, Twitter and Google were "treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful." He's also said the companies could be engaging in antitrust behaviors, without offering evidence for the claims.

It's unclear whether the Justice Department would continue reviewing competition and bias among tech companies should Sessions leave the Trump administration. The president and his attorney general have been at odds in recent months, but Trump has reportedly said Sessions will remain in his post until at least November.

Reuters reported later on Wednesday that the meeting is set for Sept. 25. The DOJ didn't immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Republicans and notable conservatives have claimed for months that social platforms were dampening their online reach. In July, Trump accused Twitter of silencing Republican voices and vowed to "look into this discriminatory and illegal practice."

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Twitter has repeatedly said it does not make decisions based on political ideology. Facebook has similarly denied political bias, in some cases during sworn testimony before Congress. Google, the particular focus of Trump's most recent attacks, has said the company doesn't "bias our results toward any political ideology."

Trump is far from the first to call for the breakup of big tech. Google and Facebook together account for more than half of the digital advertising market in the U.S. — trailed by fellow tech behemoth Amazon.

Here's the full statement from Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley:

"We listened to today's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Foreign Influence Operations' Use of Social Media Platforms closely. The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms."

—CNBC's Dan Mangan contributed to this report.

WATCH: Sessions says DOJ won't be influenced by politics