EXCLUSIVE: ‘Opportunity For Censorship’: Missouri AG Hints At Possible Antitrust Crackdown On Zuckerberg’s Threads App

(Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

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Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday raising concerns about “harms to free speech” resulting from centralized control of social media and signaling potential future antitrust action against Threads.

Instagram’s Threads app, a Meta-owned Twitter competitor launched July 6, “has all the appearances of a copy-paste project meant solely to bring Twitter’s audience under Facebook’s control,” Bailey told Zuckerberg in the letter. Bailey raised concerns about Facebook’s history of censorship and its implications for the new platform, pointing to evidence of federal officials’ collusion with Facebook to censor protected speech uncovered through his office’s Missouri v. Biden lawsuit.

“My office is doing everything it can to protect Missourians’ right to free speech from the largest First Amendment violation in American history,” Bailey told the DCNF. “We’re putting Zuckerberg on notice that the unconstitutional behavior that plagued Facebook’s platform over the last few years will not stand on its newest platform, Threads.”

This photo illustration created in Washington, DC, on July 6, 2023, shows the opening page of Threads, an Instagram app, near the Meta logo. More than 10 million people have signed up to Threads, Meta's rival to Twitter, within the first few hours of its launch, the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg said July 6. The app went live on Apple and Android app stores in 100 countries at 2300 GMT on July 5, 2023, and will run with no ads for now, but its release in Europe has been delayed over data privacy concerns. (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

This photo illustration created in Washington, DC, on July 6, 2023, shows the opening page of Threads, an Instagram app, near the Meta logo. (Credit: STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

The letter reminds Zuckerberg of his legal obligation to “preserve all documents and electronically stored information” required under law for any “potential investigation.” Based on current information, Bailey wrote that Threads “appears to be nothing less than an attempt to monopolize.” (RELATED: Here’s What A Federal Judge’s Blocking Of Biden Admin Censorship Efforts Signals For The First Amendment Going Forward)

“Attempts by Facebook to monopolize social media have serious harms,” he told Zuckerberg. “As Facebook has acquired an ever greater control over social media, privacy has deteriorated, and a mental health crisis — especially among young girls — has skyrocketed.”

To ground his free speech concerns, Bailey pointed Zuckerberg to the Missouri v. Biden lawsuit, which led to a federal judge issuing a July 4 injunction — now temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court — that prevented government officials from communicating with social media platforms for the purposes of censoring protected speech.

“As I discovered in this litigation, it is much easier for the federal government to censor speech when there are only a few tech executives they need to pressure,” Bailey wrote in the letter. “Indeed, your company has featured prominently in the evidence we obtained showing illegal collusion between the federal government and tech companies.”

“Your attempt to further consolidate the social media universe under your thumb threatens the free speech of millions of Americans,” Bailey continued.

Documents obtained through the Missouri v. Biden lawsuit, which Bailey filed with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, revealed federal officials across a number of agencies engaged in censorship activities. Examples include the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) operating “switchboards” that allowed state and local election officials to flag misinformation, Dr. Anthony Fauci influencing social media companies to censor the lab-leak theory and Center for Disease Control (CDC) officials flagging posts for platforms to remove.

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