Trump hails conservatives for bypassing 'fake news'

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (July 11, 2019) — 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 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 stated 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.

Among the conservative organizations who were expected to participate in the White House meeting were 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 pro-life 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.'"

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