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Trump rips tech firms at 'free speech' summit

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Trump rips tech firms at 'free speech' summit

By Roberta Rampton and David Shepardson

 

2019-07-11T195922Z_1_LYNXNPEF6A1XE_RTROPTP_4_USA-SOCIALMEDIA.JPG

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "social media summit" meeting with prominent conservative social media figures in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump welcomed prominent conservative social media provocateurs to the White House on Thursday and said that along with himself, they are being treated unfairly by big tech firms, which he says suppress conservative voices.

 

Trump said he has told his administration to look for regulations and legislation that could protect free speech - though he did not provide details on what measures were being discussed - and said he would summon major social firms to the White House for talks in coming weeks.

 

"We're not going to be silenced," Trump said, complaining about fluctuations in the number of his Twitter followers. "Big tech must not censor the voices."

 

Freedom of speech in enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

Trump, who regularly lashes out at the mainstream news media for their work which he brands as "fake news," made social media a key part of his 2016 run for office as well as his 2020 reelection campaign. But he and other Republicans have long claimed that online platforms employ tactics to silence their voices, allegations that major social media companies have denied.

 

Dozens of pro-Trump online personalities convened in the stately East Room to discuss what they say is censorship on social media platforms, rubbing elbows with several members of Trump's cabinet and his White House team, and his son Donald Trump, Jr.

 

Amid the sea of suits, several red Trump campaign hats and rubber bracelets popped out. Singer Joy Villa, who describes herself as a conservative activist, wore a flamboyant stars-and-stripes formal gown.

 

Trump called to the stage Lila Rose, an anti-abortion activist who has been blocked from Pinterest; California lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, who has represented conservatives in free-speech lawsuits; and Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, sisters and video bloggers who are better known as Diamond and Silk.

 

Carpe Donktum, a pro-Trump online persona who was recently suspended by Twitter for eight days over a video depicting Trump as a cowboy attacking CNN journalist Jim Acosta, said the face-to-face event could unite online conservatives.

 

In freewheeling remarks that bounced from one topic to another - not unlike his Twitter feed followed by more than 61 million people - Trump talked about the power of social media, and railed against the traditional media standing at the back of the room.

 

"We hardly do press releases anymore," Trump said. "If I put it out on social media, it's like an explosion."

 

"IT'S GENIUS - BUT IT'S BAD"

Trump acknowledged criticism about the online behavior of some conservative users of social media. "Some of you guys are out there - but even you should have a voice," Trump said.

 

"The crap you think of is unbelievable," he said. "I mean it's genius - but it's bad."

 

Trump more than once has threatened retaliatory action related to free speech. In March he signed an executive order requiring U.S. colleges and universities to maintain "free speech" on campus if they want to continue receiving federal research funds, and last September he suggested that the license of television network NBC could be challenged over its news reporting.

 

Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, said that instead of focusing on "combating Russian social media misinformation, punishing anti-competitive practices, or protecting Americans' data and privacy, the president has invited trolls, conspiracy theorists, anti-Semites, and the whole comments section to the White House."

 

Trump said he might invite some of the conservative social media users back to the White House for the meeting with major social media firms. Three tech officials said they had no knowledge of the meeting before Trump announced it.

 

Facebook Inc <FB.O>, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc's <GOOGL.O> Google declined to comment on Trump's announcement that he would bring them to the White House for a meeting.

 

The Internet Association, a trade group representing major tech firms like Facebook, Twitter and Google, said, "Internet companies are not biased against any political ideology, and conservative voices in particular have used social media to great effect."

 

Republicans in Congress have held numerous hearings on the issue of alleged conservative bias on social media outlets.

 

Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who is working on proposed legislation on the issue, took the stage briefly on Thursday to air his complaints.

 

"They've gotten rich off of their special privileges from government. They want to keep those, they shouldn't discriminate. They shouldn't censor," Hawley said.

 

A Senate panel chaired by Republican Ted Cruz on Tuesday will hold a hearing titled "Google and Censorship through Search Engines" featuring Google's vice president of public policy, Karan Bhatia.

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in San Francisco; Editing by Alistair Bell and Leslie Adler)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-07-12
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12 minutes ago, lannarebirth said:

So the issue isn't that most of the  stuff on the internet is hype and bullshit, but that his particular brand of hype and bullshit isn't getting enough exposure.

There's hype and BS on one hand, and on the other there's malevolent hype and BS.

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Just now, bristolboy said:

Stop with the condescending social engineering. And no the Dems didn't give us Trump. Actually the media did. In the last election they spend almost no time on issue of importance and instead concentrated on tripe. 

 

https://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-2016-general-election/

 

Well, I'll concede the media played a huge part, and will again. If it bleeds it leads; and people seem to eat it up.

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2 minutes ago, bristolboy said:

And there's also Comey at the last minute announcing a reopening of the investigation. And of course the Russians and wikileaks.

 

Actually, I agree with Hillary, that Comey screwed her. The Russians played virtually no part despite the press, and Wikileaks offered some transparency to something that everyone knew was going on but couldn't prove. The only fault I would say about Wikileaks is that they didn't provide the same amount of transparency to the other side.

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I saw parts of his speech to them on tv.  He was bragging how his twitter numbers jumped when he came up the one saying he was being spied on.

 

I'm sure they now have pictures and ids of all these guys, the joke's on them.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, bristolboy said:

And there's also Comey at the last minute announcing a reopening of the investigation. And of course the Russians and wikileaks.

Yes, first Comey pulls that because he is afraid to upset the GOP, then Mueller found DT culpable but wouldn't come right out and state it, Ken Starr style.  I always suspected that at a cultural the DC establishment has its finger on the scale for the GOP (regardless of which party controls the WH or Congress at any given moment).  If I had any doubt previously....

 

 

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5 hours ago, webfact said:

"We hardly do press releases anymore," Trump said. "If I put it out on social media, it's like an explosion."

yeah and everyday I frequently rant and rave over insignificant issues,

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