Trump’s ‘Social Media Summit’
On Thursday, President Trump is assembling a group of his most ardent online supporters for a White House “social media summit.” The guest list has not been publicly released, but a motley grab bag of pro-Trump influencers have taken to Twitter to brag about their invitations, including James O’Keefe, the right-wing founder of Project Veritas; Bill Mitchell, a pro-Trump activist who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory; and a pseudonymous Twitter user, “CarpeDonktum,” who is perhaps best known for creating a doctored video of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. that Mr. Trump retweeted.
The group will have “a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment,” according to Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, who said last month that Mr. Trump would speak at the summit. Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and Turning Point USA have also said they would attend.
Right-wing internet personalities, including Mr. Trump himself, have accused social media companies of being biased against them. Recently, Mr. Trump suggested that Twitter “should be sued because of what’s happening with the bias,” and in May, the White House released a “share your story” tool to collect anecdotes from people who feel their social media accounts have been banned unfairly.
In reality, few have benefited more from the megaphones provided by these platforms than Mr. Trump and his supporters. Right-wing pages are among the most popular political news outlets on Facebook, and Mr. Trump remains one of Facebook’s biggest clients. Since May 2018, his re-election campaign has purchased more than $10 million worth of Facebook ads, more than any other candidate or group.
“The stuff online that people dismiss as memes — that’s the way to motivate people,” CarpeDonktum, the pro-Trump memesmith, told my colleague Charlie Warzel this year. “It’s the viral political marketing of the future.”