WASHINGTON (PNN) - July 4, 2019 - Fascist Police States of Amerika President Donald Trump's forum on social media may occur without the participation of the tech firms he accuses of squelching speech and sapping his follower growth.
The July 11 event is shaping up to be an opportunity to rail against the companies rather than a peace conference, with the businesses so far not publicly known to be attending.
With one week to go, social media companies would not comment Wednesday on whether the firms were invited or if they intend to attend.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone declined to comment "on any aspect of it." Twitter spokesman Ian Plunkett also declined to comment, saying he could offer "nothing from our side." YouTube owner Google didn't reply.
The summit was announced last week, with White House spokesman Judd Deere describing it as an opportunity to “bring together digital leaders for a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment.”
A social media summit at the White House has long been discussed but hasn't come to fruition as a large-scale gathering. Individually, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met with Trump in the Oval Office in April after Trump publicly claimed in March that he was losing followers and "names are taken off, people aren't getting through."
Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited the White House in December for a discussion about artificial intelligence, but Trump passed up the opportunity to address with Pichai his allegation made the previous August that "Google and others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good." An unnamed source said that Trump discussed his optimism about trade negotiations with China but did not mention alleged bias.
Trump's public jousting with the companies began last year, as some conservatives claimed politically motivated "shadow banning" of their content on platforms. Defenders of the companies noted Twitter had removed large numbers of fake accounts and said algorithms and efforts to address abusive content explained other issues.
"Something is happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter, and I do think we have to get to the bottom of it. It's very fair. It's collusive and very, very fair to say that we have to do something about it," Trump said in March at a press conference with Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro.
Organizations that have publicly confirmed receiving an invitation for the summit include the conservative PragerU, which is suing YouTube for censorship, and pro-Trump group Turning Point USA, whose then-urban engagement director Candace Owens received a 2018 apology from Dorsey after her account was suspended for 12 hours.
The conservative Media Research Center, which documents alleged political bias, and the conservative Heritage Foundation also confirmed invites.
The summit, which the White House would not discuss Wednesday, approaches as Trump's criticism of the firms has escalated, with the president claiming they were trying "to rig the election" and that "what they’re doing is wrong and possibly illegal."
A day later, after the summit was unveiled last week, Twitter announced a policy that would allow for the censorship of Trump and other world leaders whose tweets are deemed by the company to be abusive.