UK Markets closed

Donald Trump summons Silicon Valley bosses to White House to address alleged left-wing bias

Margi Murphy
Donald Trump invited social media influencers and politicians to what he described as a 'social media summit' at the White House but left representatives from social media companies off the list - AP

Donald Trump is summoning Silicon Valley executives to the White House this month after raising the prospect of new laws to crack down on alleged bias against conservatives on social media

The American president revealed his plans at what he described as a "social media summit" in Washington, to which he invited right-wing social media influencers and politicians but failed to extend the bidding to any social media company representatives.

Regulation may be on the cards as Mr Trump warned he is "directing my administration to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech and the free speech rights of all Americans". 

Mr Trump used the presentation to repeat accusations that Twitter was censoring him. He claimed that his followers did not appear to be growing as steadily in recent months, suggesting he was being censored by the popular social network. 

“Even six months ago I was picking up unbelievable amounts of people,” he said. "I’m hotter now.”

Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder, has denied the company blocks, sensors or "shadow bans" conservative politicians. 

Details on what new legislation would include were not divulged but Mr Trump congratulated junior Senator Joshua Hawley, a Republican representative for Missouri, for his work in the area and invited him to speak for several minutes. Mr Hawley has proposed punishing technology giants who fail to prove they are politically neutral by removing their legal immunity as a platform, rather than a publisher. This change of definition would hold them legally accountable for any user-generated content on their services.

Conservative think-tanks including the Heritage Foundation were in attendance along with social media personalities accused of pushing conspiracy theories and misleading information on the internet.  

Mr Trump used the summit to take shots at CNN, or as he referred to the broadcaster, “fake news”, alleged bias among technology companies, and the suppression of free speech as he addressed the room.  At one point he pointed out that a number of attendees had already been banned from Twitter, to laughter from guests. "I mean, in all fairness some of you I can almost understand it," he said. "Some of you guys are out there."

Cardboard cut-outs of his favourite tweets were used to decorate the room. 

Just hours earlier Mr Trump berated Twitter on Twitter, along with Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for “tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies”.