President Donald Trump said he will invite social media companies to the White House, a comment made at the "social media summit" from which they were excluded. The summit, which took place Thursday, included right-wing personalities but no representatives from
or other social media giants.
"We're going to be calling a big meeting of the companies," Trump said in opening remarks at the summit, adding the meeting would likely take place in a week or two. "They have to be here."
Facebook and Twitter declined to comment. The White House hasn't released any more information about a possible meeting with social media companies.
Trump's social media summit brought together media personalities popular in conservative circles, such as YouTuber Tim Pool and Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit, a site that has published right-wing conspiracy theories. Facebook and Twitter had previously said they weren't invited to participate. YouTube didn't respond to a request for comment about whether it had been invited.
"They're playing with a lot of minds and they're playing unfairly," the president said of the tech giants during the summit. He also complained about his follower count.
Before the event, Trump lashed out at social media companies. The companies exhibit "tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression," the president tweeted.
"We will not let them get away with it much longer," he said.
The White House gathering comes as tensions between social media companies and prominent conservatives escalate amid a crackdown on hate speech, violence and other content that violates their rules. The companies have banned far-right figures, including InfoWars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer. In response, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have criticized the moves at hearings, and the White House launched a website giving people the opportunity to report allegations of political bias by the companies.
Trump has alleged Twitter makes it hard for people to follow him, though he has offered no evidence. In a meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Trump complained about losing followers.
Trump said he'd instruct his administration to "explore all regulatory and legislative solutions" to protect free speech.
Many of the attendees at Thursday's event, which started just after a Twitter outage, have accused social media companies of attempting to hamper their growth and reach. Facebook, Twitter and Google have repeatedly denied these accusations.
James O'Keefe, head of Project Veritas, a conservative news outlet whose hidden-camera videos are popular on YouTube, attended the summit. Project Veritas has been accused of editing videos to twist what their subjects say, and of attempting to trick reporters at The Washington Post into pursuing a false story. O'Keefe has denied the allegations.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, were also invited to the summit. YourVoice America host Bill Mitchell, who's promoted the extremist QAnon conspiracy, tweeted last week that he planned to attend the summit. Various conservatives groups including the Heritage Foundation, Prager University and the Media Research Center got invites as well, according to The Washington Post.
On Thursday, advocacy groups such as the Muslim Advocates accused Trump of holding the summit to pressure social media companies into not enforcing their online rules.
"President Trump's social media summit is a ruse designed to intimidate technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube into allowing bigoted and white nationalist hate content on their platforms," said Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates' special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry. "Enforcing basic standards of decency on social media isn't censoring conservative speech."
First published July 11 at 11:25 a.m. PT.
Update, 2:18 p.m. PT: Adds details from the event.