(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. haven’t been invited to take part in a technology-focused meeting called by U.S. President Donald Trump for Thursday at the White House, as the event shapes up to be a "social media summit" without social media.
Conservative tech critics and groups have already confirmed their attendance. The White House announced the summit on June 26, saying it would “bring together digital leaders for a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment.” Facebook on Monday said it hadn’t been invited to participate in the meeting, and a person familiar with the matter said Twitter also hadn’t been asked to join.
Trump has accused large technology platforms such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook and Twitter of anti-conservative bias and last month said the U.S. government should sue Facebook and Google for unspecified wrongdoing. Facebook runs the world’s largest social network, as well as the Instagram photo-sharing and WhatsApp messaging apps, and Twitter’s platform is one of Trump’s preferred ways of communicating directly with the public.
For More: Trump Says U.S. Should Sue Facebook, Google
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, a frequent Google critic, is scheduled to attend, according to her spokeswoman. Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, a Trump ally, also plans to attend, according to a person familiar with his plans. They’ll be joining conservative groups including The Heritage Foundation and Turning Point USA, as well as conservative media figures such as Trump booster Bill Mitchell, who tweeted on July 2 that he "will not be silenced!"
“We’re not sure what to expect,” said Heritage Foundation spokesman Rob Bluey. “I think it’s valuable to get people to get together in the same room and have these conversations.”
Bluey said he didn’t think the tech companies needed to be there because the companies had already discussed the issues with their critics. He said he would be prepared to talk about times he believed Heritage experts were censored for their views, although he said the think tank -- which promotes free enterprise -- is “prepared to advocate for market pressure as opposed to government pressure” as a solution.
Other groups who have confirmed their attendance include PragerU, which produces online civics lessons with a conservative bent and has sued search giant Google, and the Media Research Center, which criticizes what it perceives as left-wing bias in mainstream journalism. In June, the latter group’s president, Brent Bozell, commended a Senate bill that would strip a treasured liability exemption from online platforms like Facebook and Twitter if they don’t prove themselves politically neutral.
Project Veritas, a conservative nonprofit known for using undercover sting operations in attempts to expose wrongdoing, said its chief executive officer, James O’Keefe, would attend.
Google declined to comment on the summit. CNN reported on Sunday that Twitter wasn’t invited, but the company declined to comment on Monday.
Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association trade group that represents most of the major technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, said in a statement that his members "don’t have a political ideology or political bias."
"Internet companies continue to succeed and grow by building a broad user base regardless of party affiliation or political perspectives,” Beckerman said.
(Updates with Twitter’s status in first paragraph.)
--With assistance from Rebecca Kern and Kurt Wagner.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jillian Ward
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.