Trump escalates war on social media at White House 'summit'

2019-07-11 19:44
US President Donald Trump. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

US President Donald Trump. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Escalating his attacks on Silicon Valley, US President Donald Trump hinted on Thursday at new regulations on social media as he gathered critics of major online platforms at a White House "summit".

Trump invited conservative activists who have been curbed or banned on social media to press his argument that big social networks are discriminating against conservatives, notwithstanding his large online following.

"A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer," Trump tweeted.

The comments stoked fears that the White House may seek to eliminate the legal framework that protects online services from liability over harmful content posted by others but hosted on their platforms.

Digital rights activists and others warned that removing the protection - codified as Section 230 of a 1996 law - could undermine free speech protections and harm the internet ecosystem.

"The government shouldn't require - or coerce - intermediaries to remove constitutionally protected speech that the government cannot prohibit directly," said a letter signed by 27 civic and digital rights organizations and 50 legal scholars.

The letter said such demands would violate the US constitution's First Amendment on free expression.

"Also, imposing broad liability for user speech incentivizes services to err on the side of taking down speech, resulting in overbroad censorship - or even avoid offering speech forums altogether," it added.

Eric Goldman, head of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, said, Section 230 had made the modern internet, and user generated content, possible.

"Today's most popular social websites would never have taken off and the internet would look basically like cable," he added.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter - who were not invited to the summit - discriminate against him and his supporters, even though his own Twitter account has nearly 62 million followers.

Intimidation effort?

Big internet firms have roundly denied accusations of political bias.

But they also have faced pressure from governments around the world to remove abusive and hateful content as well as conspiracy theories, such as those promoted by Trump and his allies attending Thursday's White House gathering.

"Internet companies are not biased against any political ideology, and conservative voices in particular have used social media to great effect," said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, which includes Twitter, Facebook and Google.

"Internet companies depend upon their users' trust from across the political spectrum to grow and succeed."

Twitter said last month it would add warnings to tweets from officials and politicians that violate its rules - a move potentially impacting Trump's prodigious output.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, a trade group whose members include Facebook and Google, said the White House event "seems designed to intimidate companies to bias content in favor of whoever is calling the meeting".

"No private company should be browbeaten by the government into giving a pass to objectionable content that violates company policies," CCIA president Ed Black said in a statement.

"Social media sites may wish to allow many types of speech, but should not be required to stay neutral on hate or religious intolerance.

"If those airing grievances at this week's meeting are unsatisfied with one company's policy against objectionable content, there are plenty of competitors from which to choose."

Without the tech platforms, Thursday's event is "less of a summit and more of a complaining festival", Adam Chiara, a University of Hartford professor of communication told AFP this week.

"A summit usually involves parties talking about how to reach a goal or discussing ways to meet objectives. That will be hard for President Trump to do without having the mega social media platforms there."

GET THE NEWS at your fingertips and download the News24 app for Android here now. Get it for your iPhone here.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.