In response to two mass shootings over the weekend, the White House will host a discussion on violent online extremism with a group of unspecified technology companies this Friday.
The summit will include “senior administration officials along with representatives of a range of companies,” according to White House spokesman Judd Deere.
Prior to last weekend's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas that took the lives of 22 people, the shooter posted a racist anti-immigrant manifesto to the online forum 8chan. He’s the third mass shooter in six months to use the site to spread his message.
The summit will be held Friday, when Trump is scheduled to speak at two back-to-back fundraisers. In remarks given after the shootings, the president said that social media companies and law enforcement should “develop tools to detect mass shooters before they strike.”
Trump has been criticized for failing to address the threat of white nationalist terrorism in the U.S. The same day the White House announced the discussion with tech companies, CNN reported that for more than a year the Trump administration fought efforts to make domestic terrorism, including white supremacist violence, a specific priority in national counterterrorism strategy. To date, the Trump administration has strongly preferred to focus on radical Islamic terrorism.
After the pair of tragic events, the president pointed to violent video games as a possible inspiration, did not mention gun control, and denied that his own rhetoric fueled violence. Wednesday, according to the Washington Post, the president said in a gaggle that he was “concerned for any group of hate, I don’t like it… whether it’s white supremacy or any other kind of supremacy.” The president has repeatedly described migration across the U.S.-Mexico border as “an invasion,” as did the El Paso shooter’s manifesto.
Just one day before the announcement of the discussion, Trump said his administration was “watching Google very closely” for bias against conservatives, though he didn’t provide any evidence to back up the accusation. In July, he hosted a “Social Media Summit” that included his own online cheerleaders rather than technology companies.
8chan has come under scrutiny in the wake of its involvement in the killings. The leader of the House Committee On Homeland Security has asked the owner of 8chan to testify on Capitol Hill. The cybersecurity company Cloudflare removed the site’s protection from cyberattacks, and its web host abandoned it, leaving 8chan inaccessible to users as its owners scrambled to find new web infrastructure.
Twitter and Microsoft declined to comment on Friday’s event at the White House. Facebook, Google, 8chan, Apple, Amazon, and Reddit did not respond to requests for comment.