President Trump plans to gather Republican lawmakers, campaign strategists and online provocateurs for a “social media summit” at the White House on Thursday, rallying his political allies and escalating his attacks on Facebook, Google and Twitter ahead of the 2020 election.
For Trump, the conference represents his highest profile broadside against Silicon Valley after months of accusing tech companies of censoring conservative users and websites. Facebook, Google and Twitter each has denied the president’s allegations of political bias, though none of them has been invited to the White House for Trump’s summit.
Hours before the event, Trump tweeted that the focus of the conversation “will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies,” though he didn’t mention any by name. “We will not let them get away with it much longer,” he added.
Trump also appeared to suggest social-media sites “would be driven out of business” once he leaves office in six years or more, acknowledging he had made a joke about exceeding presidential term limits.
A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer. The Fake News Media will also be there, but for a limited period..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2019 Trump has assailed Facebook, Google and Twitter for months, even accusing them of trying to rig the election . In March, for example, he said the companies had engaged in “collusion” and work in opposition to a “certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election.”
[ White House escalates war against Facebook, Google and Twitter with a campaign asking users to share stories of censorship ]
At times, though, Trump’s attacks have come in response to efforts by Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove hate speech, threats of violence and other troubling content from their platforms. These tech giants have been under pressure to address a litany of online ills, including the rise of disinformation, three years after Russian agents spread falsehoods on social media during the 2016 election. But Trump and his close allies have decried some of social media’s content-moderation policies as censorship , putting those companies in a political bind.
Some of the conservatives that Trump plans to consult Thursday themselves adopt controversial tactics on social media — or even have been disciplined by Facebook, Google or Twitter for running afoul of their rules. That includes James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas whose secretly recorded and highly edited videos of subjects have prompted widespread backlash, including from state authorities and people who have sued him in response.
“Project Veritas can be synergistic with the Trump administration to pull back the curtain surrounding Big Tech,” O’Keefe said in a statement online after receiving the invitation.
Other invitees include Ali Alexander, who sent the initial, inflammatory tweet questioning whether Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), a Democratic presidential candidate, is actually an “American black,” and Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit founder who has long been faulted for spreading conspiracy theories online.
“After the 2016 election Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon (in advertising) decided the best way to prevent another Trump win was to silence conservative voices in America,” according to a statement from the Gateway Pundit site. “The tech giants in two years did more to destroy Freedom of Speech than at any other time in US history.”
[ Trump met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — and complained about his follower count ]
Initially, the White House had invited Ben Garrison , whose cartoons long have provoked the ire of groups including the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center for including hateful imagery, including anti-Semitism. But the White House this week appeared to rescind its invitation, Garrison tweeted in a statement Wednesday , out of concern his presence would be a “media distraction from the president’s message.”
Trump also has invited lawmakers including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who have accused Twitter in the past of limiting the reach of their tweets. They are set to be joined by organizations such as the Media Research Center, a conservative group that has called for the breakup of big tech companies, and PragerU, which produces right-leaning videos that it believes Google has censored — a matter the two sides are battling in court.
Comment s Tony Romm Tony Romm is a technology policy reporter at The Washington Post. He has spent nearly ten years covering the ways that tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google navigate the corridors of government — and the regulations that sometimes result. Follow Market Watch Dow 26,990.15 Today 0.48% S&P 2,999.84 Today 0.23% NASDAQ 8,214.46 Today 0.15% Last Updated:09:57 AM 07/11/2019 Subscriber sign in We noticed you’re blocking ads! Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on. Try 1 month for $1 Unblock ads Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us