White House Announces Social Media Summit
By: Nicole Schuman
June 27, 2019
Social media companies seem to be spending a lot of time in Washington, D.C. these days. Google, Twitter and Facebook executives took the stand before the Homeland Security Committee this past week, and visited Congress numerous times over the past year.
Today the White House extended another D.C. invitation to the digital world, announcing a social media summit to be held July 11, allowing for a “robust conversation” about the state of online platforms.
“This event will bring together digital leaders for a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, told CNBC.
The details of the summit and invitees currently remain unknown, and it comes at a curiously volatile time between the White House and social media companies. President Trump completed an interview with Fox Business Network a day prior to the summit announcement, criticizing platforms such as Twitter for censoring conservatives and making it “difficult for people to follow him.”
CNBC reported that Twitter made a statement reiterating “its focus is on improving the health of its platform — including the removal of fake accounts to prevent malicious activity — and that many prominent figures have seen follower counts drop as a result.”
The rollercoaster relationship between Trump and the tech giants shows no signs of slowing down with his latest complaints, but a summit may be just what both parties need to explain each side’s point of view and provide transparency on the services. The White House can learn the goals and best practices of each company, while opening a dialogue on the timely issues each party needs to tackle.
It’s not the first time this year that the White House invited Google or Twitter to meet with the president. Politico reported “both Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have held individual meetings with Trump at the White House this year. After each, the president tweeted that the meeting had gone well. He and Pichai “discussed political fairness and various things that @Google can do for our Country,” while the Dorsey meeting saw “[l]ots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general,” he said.
Still, the issue of bias continues to fester at the White House, as well as first amendment rights and disinformation for Congress. In May, the White House launched an online form to report violations of user policies for freedom of speech stating: “too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported.” The form has since been discontinued.
If anything, the summit provides an open airing of grievances from both parties, and an opportunity to support and institute digital literacy practices. From common decency when engaging in an online conversation, to determining what is real versus doctored, this is a crucial point in the history of social media for both sides to get it right.