Social Media

TRUMP’S “SOCIAL MEDIA SUMMIT” IS A FAR-RIGHT TROLL CONVENTION

Donald Trump speaks at a microphone with his mouth open.

President Donald Trump is holding an official event to air his grievances about social media—and the far right is invited to the party. A number of far-right internet personalities have reportedly been invited to the White House for a “Social Media Summit” on Thursday, which White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said will “bring together digital leaders for a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment.” Among the “digital leaders” present will be social media users who believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory, have shared anti-Semitic cartoons, and have created memes tweeted by Trump—while actual representatives from Facebook and Twitter have reportedly been shut out of the discussions.

Per TalkingPointsMemo, those invited to Thursday’s summit include right-wing cartoonist Ben Garrison, whose cartoon of General H.R. McMaster was decried by the Anti-Defamation League as “blatantly anti-Semitic;” broadcaster Bill Mitchell, who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory; and Twitter user @CarpeDonktum, whose pro-Trump video memes the president frequently shares on Twitter. (The user was behind the recent video showing Trump’s eternal presidency as a TIME Magazine cover, among others.) The far right’s impending White House presence isn’t necessarily anything new, of course; @CarpeDonktum has reportedly had a private Oval Office meeting with the president and fellow far-right tweeter and Summit invitee @mad-liberals. And the far right has even made their way into the White House’s staff ranks. CNN reported Monday that Brietbart’s White House correspondent Michelle Moonshas accepted a position at the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, becoming the third Breitbart staffer to join the Trump administration, including former Breitbart owner and Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

The Washington Post reported that the Social Media Summit will also include prominent conservative-leaning organizations, including the Heritage Foundation, Media Research Center, and Turning Point USA. PragerU, a conservative organization that is currently suing Google for perceived “censorship” of its videos about Islam and guns, was also invited to attend. Given these organizations’ combative stance toward social media companies, it’s likely that Trump will use the gathering to continue his criticism of the tech giants and their supposed “censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS.” The president and his administration have been ramping up Trump’s unsupported claims that social media companies actively silence conservative voices in recent months, publishing an online survey that asked users whether they felt they had been discriminated against online. The president then claimed in a recent Fox News interviewthat he felt Facebook, Google, and Twitter were “against me” and said the White House “should be suing Google and Facebook and all that,” adding, “perhaps we will.” (Social media companies have taken steps to curb hate speech perpetuated by members of the far right, including banning prominent internet personalities like Milo Yiannopoulosand Alex Jones, and are taking steps toward annotating particularly egregious Trump tweets, though critics believe the companies have not gone far enough. There is no evidence that Twitter silences conservatives as the president claims.)

How Trump’s planned social media gathering shakes out still remains to be seen—but the president’s critics are unsurprisingly not thrilled the event is taking place at all. “There is zero evidence that social media companies are biased against conservatives,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement. “In fact, the big tech companies have gone to amazing lengths to avoid confronting right-wing voices that advocate hate and racial division. This summit is a waste of taxpayer dollars intended to pressure tech companies ahead of the 2020 elections and score political points.”

[“source=vanityfair”]