Melania Trump to discuss online harassment with tech giants

The first lady is planning to meet with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others next week as part of her push for internet safety and against cyberbullying.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
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First lady Melania Trump is hoping to take on internet harassment.

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First lady Melania Trump has said she wants to fight back against harassment on the internet. Now, she's meeting with some of the industry's largest players to see what they can do.

The first lady is planning a March 20 meeting, according to two people familiar with the plans, during which she plans to discuss items such as online trolls and the spread of malicious content. The first lady isn't expected to announce any new policy at the event, according to a report in The Washington Post on Tuesday, which broke the news of the meeting.

Facebook , Google, and  Twitter are among the companies expected to attend, according to the report. Representatives for the companies didn't respond to a request for comment, nor did the White House.

The move comes as internet companies themselves reckon with the dark world they preside over. In the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, an army of trolls and hate groups have come into the spotlight, spreading false stories and conspiracy theories. They've even brought some of their activities into the real world, organizing protests like the one last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended with a white supremacist allegedly killing a counter-protester with his car. 

While the tech industry has sought to fight back, they also insist that trolling and online abuse represent a small percentage of the overall conversations. Still, executives have pledged to tackle the issue. 

Facebook CEO  Mark Zuckerberg  said in January he intends to focus his efforts this year on helping to fix Facebook by confronting concerns about interference from the Russian government, as well as the spread of hate and abuse. "We needed to get serious," he said in an open letter at the time

Twitter CEO  Jack Dorsey  has begun soliciting ideas for how to measure the good stuff happening on his social network, in addition to the bad ones they already track. "You have my commitment we will continue to show our progress and emphasize the show and not the tell," Dorsey said during a webcast last week.

There's also Trump, who pledged to take on internet harassment shortly after husband Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has continued to use Twitter to attack his rivals and belittle his enemies.

CNET's Richard Nieva contributed to this report.

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