White House to host roundtable on online extremism after mass shootings

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The White House will host a meeting about online extremism with an array of tech and internet companies this week after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, was linked to an anti-immigrant manifesto posted to a fringe social networking platform.

Friday’s meeting will come days after President Trump blamed the shooting in part on the issue of online radicalization. The suspected 21-year-old shooter in El Paso allegedly posted a racist screed to 8chan shortly before killing 22 people and injuring dozens more last Saturday.

{mosads}”The White House has invited internet and technology companies for a discussion on violent extremism online,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

“The staff-led meeting will take place Friday and include senior administration officials along with representatives of a range of companies,” he said, declining to offer more information on who has been invited.

Trump said on Monday that he ordered the Department of Justice to work closely with social media companies to identify potential mass shooters based on their online footprints. The DOJ did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on whether it would send an official to the meeting.

“The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate,” Trump said. “We must recognize that the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts.”

“We must shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start,” he added. “The perils of the internet and social media cannot be ignored and they will not be ignored.”

The White House meeting is expected to focus on violence rather than hate speech.

It is unclear if Trump, who is scheduled to attend fundraisers in the Hamptons on Friday, will attend the event.

Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter said it did not have any comment, redirecting The Hill to the White House.

Trump has been escalating his attacks on the country’s largest tech companies for months, even speaking at a “social media summit” at the White House in July about his allegations that the platforms are biased against him.

The White House at the time said it would bring in the companies for a meeting, noting that they were not invited to the “summit” attended mainly by right-wing social media influencers.

In May, the White House declined to sign on to a global pact to fight online terror, dubbed the “Christchurch Call,” putting the U.S. at odds with France, Canada, the European Union and the other 17 countries that signed onto the non-binding agreement.

Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube — all American companies — also signed onto the pledge, which came in response to the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The effort came after of footage the New Zealand shooting spread quickly across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other major platforms. The social media giants scrambled to remove the 17-minute livestream, but the video proved difficult to remove, with users at some points uploading and sharing clips as quickly as once per second.

Each of the companies has said they are dedicated to adhering to the framework laid out in the so-called “Christchurch Call,” which asks them to step up their efforts to investigate and remove toxic online content from their respective platforms. It also emphasizes creating more integrated partnerships with governments around the world.

White House officials, at the time, said they the pledge’s contents ran against freedom of speech.

Democrats have criticized the president in the wake of the deadly El Paso shooting and another in Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend, for largely placing the blame for the incidents’ on mental health and technology, rather than on guns.

— This report was updated at 1:43 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Mass shootings online extremism Roundtable White House

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