‘This might make platform moderators think twice about deactivating one of their accounts if it is flagged for inappropriate content…’
(AFP) President Donald Trump is gearing up for a fresh assault on Silicon Valley this week with a “social media summit”—inviting conservative critics of Big Tech but excluding the big online platforms themselves.
The White House offered few details on its gathering set for Thursday with digital leaders to discuss the “opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment.”
But it comes with Trump stepping up his claims of bias by online platforms, charging that they suppress conservative voices despite his own large social media following.
Facebook confirmed Monday it was not invited to the White House event.
Twitter offered no comment, but several media reports said it, too, was excluded from the event.
Among those invited was James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, which has infiltrated multiple tech firms and released damaging video exposés recently on the culture of bias at companies including Google and Pinterest.
The Washington Post reported that other conservative groups whose online reach has been suppressed by the virtue-signalling tech companies’ recent changes in its policies were also on the guest list.
That included PragerU, which educates the public on a wide array of issues from a conservative perspective, and TurningPoint USA, which has documented the indoctrination efforts of colleges and universities that advance left-wing interests.
Political cartoonist Ben Garrison—a Trump supporter who was blacklisted for questioning the claims of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., surrounding her ethnic origin—also announced on Twitter he was attending the White House summit.
— GrrrGraphics Cartoons (@GrrrGraphics) July 5, 2019
The gathering comes amid a wave of criticism of Big Tech from Trump and his allies, but also from other critics who claim the online giants have become too big and with social platforms struggling to clamp down on abusive speech.
Technology firms have roundly rejected any claims of political bias, arguing that would be bad for business.
Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank focused on the tech sector that purports to be nonpartisan, said events like these could make it more difficult for social media to filter out inappropriate content.
“If this is just a gathering of pro-Trump social media influencers, then it makes sense that the platforms do not attend,” Castro said.
“But participating in a White House function gives some of these more eccentric characters a veneer of legitimacy,” he said. “This might make platform moderators think twice about deactivating one of their accounts if it is flagged for inappropriate content.”
© Agence France-Presse