VIDEO: Trump Hails Conservative News at White House Social Media Summit

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7/11/2019 7:02 PM   

President Donald Trump told the conservative critics of social media Thursday that they've successfully used the platforms to send messages directly to the American people without going through the fake news filter. Trump has weaponized social media to eviscerate opponents and promote himself. He convened Thursday's White House 'social media summit' of like-minded critics of Big Tech, excluding representatives from the very platforms he exploits.

Earlier Thursday, Trump sent a stream of Twitter messages lashing out at social media companies and the press, familiar targets that resonate with his conservative base. The meeting represented an escalation of Trump's battle with companies like Facebook, Google and even his preferred communications outlet, Twitter. The president has claimed, without evidence, that the companies are 'against me' and even suggested U.S. regulators should sue them on grounds of anti-conservative bias. In remarks to the participants, whom Trump called "online journalists and influencers," Trump said, "You're challenging the media gatekeepers and corporate censors to bring the truth to the American people. You communicate directly with our citizens without going through the fake news filter," he said.

The high-profile White House event raised the prospect of Trump using the forum to signal tough actions ahead by his administration against big tech companies in the areas of competition and privacy. The firms already are under closer scrutiny than ever by regulators and in Congress following a stream of scandals including Facebook's lapses opening the personal data of millions of users to Trump's 2016 campaign, and a bipartisan push for new data privacy legislation has emerged in Congress. Regulators at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are pursuing antitrust investigations of Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.

Trump's volley of Twitter messages Thursday had familiar targets certain companies, the press and his Democratic rivals that have proven resonance with his political base. The president predicted, without foundation, the demise of the press and the social media platforms if he loses to a Democrat in 2020. He hailed himself as so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius! "A big subject of the summit would be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies," Trump said in his tweets. "We will not let them get away with it much longer," he said.

Among the conservative organizations expected to participate in the White House meeting are Turning Point USA, a nonprofit; PragerU, short for Prager University, which puts out short videos with a conservative perspective on politics and economics; the Media Research Center; and the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank. Accusations commonly leveled by conservatives against the social media platforms include anti-religious bias, a tilt against abortion foes and censorship of conservative political views. Trump has made it a priority to reach out to voters who oppose abortion. The anti-abortion groups Live Action and Susan B. Anthony List say Twitter has blocked their advertising.

By policy, Twitter prohibits paid ads with content that is inflammatory or provocative and is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction. Donald Trump Jr. weighed in on the subject Wednesday, tweeting, "Twitter: We won't allow pro-life groups like @LiveAction to run ads on our platform & if you're a conservative we might ban you for 1st Amendment protected speech that we arbitrarily deem offensive. While some Silicon Valley company executives may lean liberal, they have asserted that their products are without political bias. Representatives for Facebook, Google and Twitter have declined to comment specifically on the White House meeting. The Internet Association, the industry's major trade group representing Facebook, Google and dozens of other companies, said online platforms are the best tool for promoting voices from all political perspectives in history.