Twitter goes down just as Trump convenes conservatives for tech-bashing social media summit
Donald Trump railed against social media in a freewheeling speech at a summit of conservative figures at the White House Thursday, accusing Silicon Valley giants of suppressing right-of-center views.
Ironically, Twitter went out worldwide on Thursday as attendees gathered for the social media summit in the White House East Room – but came back up before remarks in which he accused the tech brand of making it intentionally difficult for people to follow him.
The summit was billed as an attempt to promote transparency and fairness. White House reporters were thrown out and the live stream cut when Trump started to take questions.
In a free-wheeling speech akin to his performances at campaign rallies, Trump praised conservative social media figures for ‘the c**p you come up with,’ got applause for calling the mainstream media ‘fake news,’ and bemoaned his own apparent difficulties with Twitter.
‘I lot of bad things are happening. I have people, they come up to me: “Sir, we want to follow you. They won’t let us on,”‘ he claimed.
‘And it was so different than it was, even six, seven months ago. I was picking up unbelievable amounts of people, and I’m hotter now than I was then.
‘It used to take me a short number of days to pick up 100,000 people. I’m not complaining.
‘We’re like at 60-some-odd million. I was picking them up 100,000 people every very short period of time,’ he said.
‘Now it’s, I would say, 10 times as long. And I notice things happening, when I put out something – a good one that people like, right? A good tweet – it goes up.
‘It used to go up, it would say 7,000; 7,008; 7,017; 7,024; 7,032, 7,044, right? Now it goes 7,000; 7,008; 6,998. Then they go 7,009; 6,074. I said: “What’s going on? It never did that before.”‘
Freewheeling: Trump delivered a rally-style speech to an invited audience of conservative social media figures
First son:: Donald Trump Jr. and girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle were in the front of the East Room summit
Controversial figure: Ali Alexander, whose tweet questioning whether Kamala Harris is Afrin-American was retweeted then deleted by Don Jr. was close to the first son
Roped in: Former bondage model turned Trump fan Joy Villa was praised for her outfits by the president. She turns up at showbusiness red carpets in pro-Trump dresses
East Room audience: The president’s guests at the summit included (from left) Lila Rose, of anti-abortion group Live Action; YouTube vloggers Diamond and Silk; Kimberly Guilfoyle and her boyfriend Donald Trump Jr,.; and (right) White House counselor Kellyanne Conway
Honor: Trump invited Lynnette Hardaway (center) and Rochelle Richardson (right), known online as ‘Diamond and Silk,’ to the podium in the East Room
Twitter was down for the first 40 minutes of Trump’s social media summit but came back up before he spoke
A source inside the room told DailyMail.com that duo Diamond and Silk spoke while the platform was down. So did House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
Representatives from Twitter, Facebook and Google were not invited to the White House event that was overshadowed earlier in the week by a decision to invite, and then disinvite, a conservative political cartoonist accused of using an anti-Semitic trope.
Trump said he’d be holding a separate meeting for them later in the month. ‘they see the unfairness of what’s happening,’ he insisted in his remarks. ‘Have a big meeting and a real conversation,’ he said.
On Thursday, the president accused Twitter of engaging in a conspiracy to suppress his message and the number of followers he’s getting.
He railed against the ‘fake news media,’ as well, claiming that موسوعة المعرفة and other outlets are trying to silence his message. ‘We’re not going to be silenced,’ he said.
Trump repeatedly insisted that it’s a bipartisan issue.
‘I am not speaking for our side. I don’t even know if you’re on our side,’ he claimed, even though the guest list was carefully-curated. ‘Big tech must not censor the voices of the American people.’
The White House itself was accused of censorship this week.
Graphic artist Ben Garrison said in a statement that he had a discussion with the White House ‘and we came to the conclusion that my presence at the Social Media Summit would be a media distraction from the President’s message.’ Both parties decided Tuesday that he should not come, he writes.
‘They were nice about it, but naturally, I’m disappointed,’ he said, at first.
But Garrison says he was driven to defend himself after the White House told a news outlet that his invited had been ‘rescinded,’ violating the pact it had made not to discuss the situation.
‘I was asked to remain silent about the whole thing. I said I would remain silent and I did remain silent,’ he said. ‘But then, overnight, they released a statement saying Ben Garrison will no longer be attending.’
He said the White House’s conduct was ‘disappointing,’ as he’d been promised that Donald Trump’s aides would be ‘ignoring the entire thing.’
‘It is obvious to anyone with common sense, I am not anti-Semitic,’ he said, blasting the Alliance Defense Fund for tarnishing his reputation by claiming that he is.
A conservative political cartoonist accused of using an anti-Semitic trope will not attend a social media summit at the White House on Thursday after all
Ben Garrison says he and the White House ‘came to the conclusion’ that he shouldn’t attend
The White House had not released a statement at the time of Garrison’s message, though. In fact, presidential aides repeatedly told DailyMail.com that they couldn’t comment on the controversy.
Politico first reported that the cartoonist who’d posted a copy of his invitation to Twitter wasn’t coming to the event anymore and cited a senior aide as the information source.
The article did not how the arrangement came to be, however, the piece’s headline said Garrison’s invite had been ‘pulled’ by the White House.
Sources familiar with the situation would not talk to DailyMail.com about what had happened, although the fact that Garrison was not coming was confirmed.
It wasn’t until Garrison’s public statement that the chain of events was fully known.
WHOSE ATTENDING THE SUMMIT?
- Benny Johnson of Turning Point USA
- Activist James O’Keefe
- Viral video creator Carpe Donktum
- Heritage Foundation’s Rob Bluey, Bridgett Wagner, Maria Sousa, Lyndsey Fifield, Jessica Anderson
- Twitter user Scott Presler
- Conservative radio host Bill Mitchell
He did not respond to a previous request from DailyMail.com for comment on the status of his invitation.
A spokesman for the president declined to comment on the incident that was overtaking the conference where Donald Trump was expected to bash Democrats for attempting to silence his supporters.
On Wednesday, it was his own aides who were accused of doing the silencing, though, as Garrison said, ‘We are disappointed the White House released this news – I thought we’d both be ignoring the entire thing.’
The White House was still not talking publicly as of Wednesday afternoon. It’s only comment all week had been about the goals of the event that tech titans like Facebook, Google and Twitter were being frozen out of.
‘Earlier this year the White House launched a tool to allow Americans, regardless of their political views, to share how they have been affected by bias online. After receiving thousands of responses, the President wants to engage directly with these digital leaders in a discussion on the power of social media,’ deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in an email to DailyMail.com.
The White House did not invite Facebook to the social media summit it’s hosting on Thursday that’s shaping up to be a platform for conservatives to air their grievances against dominant tech companies.
Twitter and Google were reportedly left off the guest list, as well.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs are expected to be in Idaho at the time of the president’s July 11 event for Allen & Company’s annual media conference.
The invite-only media and tech summit, held each July, for one week, in Sun Valley, Idaho, brings together the crème de la crème of the entertainment industry.
The White House did not invite Facebook to a social media summit it’s hosting on Thursday that’s shaping up to be a platform for conservatives to air their grievances against dominant tech companies
A source with knowledge of the event confirmed that Facebook was excluded. Twitter was reportedly left off the guest list, as well
Conservative activist and Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe says he’s coming. His latest undercover sting is on Google
Allen & Co’s event has been held annually for decades, and the timing of the White House’s event suggests that Trump never intended for the heads of Twitter, Facebook or Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, to attend.
A source close to the White House noted that Trump met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai in March and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in April – they have had their opportunity to state their case to Trump.
It’s conservatives the president interacts with on Twitter who have said in posts over the last week that they received invitations, including Garrison, user Carpe Donktum, Scott Presler, provocateur James O’Keefe, Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson and members of the Heritage Foundation’s policy and communications shops.
Garrison work has been derided as racist and anti-Semitic for its depictions of blacks and Jewish figures.
A cartoon of the Rothschild family, controlling billionaire George Soros, who is in turn pulling the strings on ex-CIA Director David Petraeus and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, in particular, resurfaced as the artist’s attendance was called into question.
Garrison shared a copy of the social media summit invitation on July 5 and said he’s ‘honored’ to be invited to the the summit scheduled for 3 pm on Thursday at an undisclosed location on the property.
O’Keefe, whose organization is perhaps best known for its Planned Parenthood series, said he was attending, on Twitter as well. He boasted that his organization had ‘exposed’ every prominent tech brand with its undercover videos.
Presler also posted a copy of his invitation and wrote in a July 4 post: ‘I’m so completely honored & humbled to share that I’ve been invited to the White House for the social media summit. I can’t even believe this is happening. Dreams do come true.’
In a July 1 post that tipped off the public to the summit, Donktum thanked the president for the invitation and said he planned to attend the Washington, D.C. event.
‘After working out a few issues with childcare, I happily accept! It is a great honor to have been invited!’ he wrote.
Donktum, who says he’s a stay-at-home-dad, is behind the doctored, viral videos the president likes to share, like one of a Time Magazine cover that ends with Trump staying in office ‘4EVA.’ The president has posted the video multiple times on his accounts.
He’s also responsible for a satirical video of Joe Biden embracing himself after apologizing for inappropriate touching.
His trip to Washington for the event, he said in a later tweet, is being paid for by anonymous donors.
Carpe Donktum, who says he’s a stay-at-home-dad, is behind the doctored, viral videos the president likes to share, like one of a Time Magazine cover that ends with Trump staying in office ‘4EVA’
Grr Graphics is an account promoting the work of right-wing political cartoonist Ben Garrison, who’s work has been derided as racist and anti-Semitic for its depictions of blacks and Jewish figures
User Scott Presler also says he was invited to attend the White House summit on July 11
Trump has claimed that social media giants like Twitter are colluding with Democrats to curb his following and silence conservative voices.
‘Twitter is just terrible what they do. They don’t let you get the word – I’ve had so many people come to me, ‘Sir, I can’t join you on Twitter.’ I see what’s happening, 100 percent,’ he claimed in a Fox Business interview at the end of June.
He’s accused Google of weighting its search results to bury positive information about him in the same phone call with Maria Bartiromo, which aired live on the network.
The president was unable to say whether Google was breaking any laws but told Bartiromo: ‘I tell you what, they should be sued because what’s happening with the bias – and now you see it with that executive yesterday from Google, the hatred for the Republicans.’
Trump appeared to be referring to an incident in October of 2018, when a design lead for Google vented on Twitter about Republicans’ confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.
He wrote, then deleted, a tweet that said: ‘You are finished, GOP. You polished the final nail for your own coffins.’
Spokespersons for Google were unavailable to comment on the White House’s social media summit. Facebook declined to issue a statement on the event.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment, as well, but denied that the company is singling out conservatives on the platform.
‘We enforce the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation. We are constantly working to improve our systems and will continue to be transparent in our efforts,’ the spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
In the interview on Fox Business at the end of June, the president claimed that Twittet is making it difficult for his supporters to join the platform that he uses as the primary distribution method of direct communication.
‘You know, I have millions and millions of followers but I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me in Twitter, and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message,’ he contended.
He claimed, ‘These people are all Democrats. It’s totally biased toward Democrats. If I announced tomorrow I am going to become a nice liberal Democrat, I would pick up 5 times more followers. I was picking up, 100,000 followers every few days and all of a sudden — I am much hotter now than I was a number of months ago. But a number of months ago and then all of a sudden it stopped. And now I pick up a lot but I don’t pick up nearly what I did.’
The president said it may take congressional legislation to address what he sees as a root problem.
‘Well you may need legislation in order to create competition,’ he asserted.
The president argued that Google should be investigated for its association with Russian bloggers attempting to meddle in the election.
‘Let me tell you, they’re trying to rig the election. That’s what we should be looking at not the witch hunt, the phony witch hunt which has proven zero. You know not even a phone call,’ he argued. ‘This is the biggest political disgrace in history.’
Trump also claimed that Google should be sued for alleged ‘bias’ against conservatives and support for Democrats.
‘It’s not even like gee let’s lean Democrat, the hatred. And actually, you know, I heard that all during my election. It’s hard that I won, they were – they were swamping us with negative stuff,’ he said.
Advocacy group Muslim Advocates said the White House event is really a ‘ruse’ to put pressure on the social media company to loosen restrictions on content that’s offensive.
‘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,’ it said in a statement. ‘Enforcing basic standards of decency on social media isn’t censoring conservative speech. After all, countless conservatives continue to use these platforms without spreading bigotry.’