The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into alleged online harassment by social media platforms, with the potential for civil charges, the bureau said Friday.
The new charges were filed against Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and their parent company, Alphabet Inc., the bureau’s assistant director in charge of the FBI Cyber Division said.
The charges were also filed against LinkedIn Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc., as well as their respective parent companies, the FBI said in a statement.
The FBI’s cyber division is looking into the alleged cyberattacks targeting individuals and groups including members of Congress, activists, media organizations, members of the military and private-sector employees.
The FBI’s online crimes task force has already been looking into these issues.
The investigation also involves a review of cyberthreats targeting individuals in the United States, as well foreign governments, and international organizations, the statement said.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment on the investigation.
The allegations against Twitter came a day after Twitter said it was shutting down its social media platform for violating a company policy on “violence against people and others.”
The decision comes after Congress imposed new restrictions on social media sites in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump, including a ban on using the site for spreading racist and sexist messages and videos.
Twitter said it’s cooperating with the investigation and has a plan to remove “the most toxic” content.
The company also has a dedicated “social team” to manage its products and its community, the company said.