will meet with Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants to discuss cyberbullying.
First lady Melania Trump plans to convene tech giants including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snap next week to discuss ways to combat online harassment and promote Internet safety, according to four people familiar with her efforts.
The meeting at the White House, slated for Tuesday, marks the first major policy push in the first lady’s long-ago-announced campaign to combat cyberbullying. At the gathering, Trump plans to ask top policy executives from tech giants to detail how they’ve sought to address digital ills such as the rise of online trolls and the spread of malicious content, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss her efforts on the record. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon.com, owns The Washington Post.)
The people said they don’t expect the first lady to unveil any specific policy proposals to combat cyberbullying — a term her team has sought to avoid, instead opting to focus on the need for kindness online.
Asked about the upcoming event, a spokeswoman for Trump said in a statement that the first lady had “simply asked for a meeting to discuss one of the many things that impacts children.” The spokeswoman declined to provide additional details.
In recent months, companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have faced criticism for allowing the spread of hate, harassment, conspiracy theories and other toxic content on their platforms. After the mass shooting last month at a high school in Parkland, Fla., for example, videos attacking the victims proliferated wildly on YouTube, aided by algorithms that surface similar videos on a loop.
Others fault President Trump for contributing to the lack of civility online, particularly through his tweets attacking opponents. Some of his most popular tweets in 2017 — garnering hundreds of thousands of replies, likes or retweets among his roughly 49 million followers — involved rhetorical broadsides aimed at North Korea and CNN.
Melania Trump first pledged to highlight and fight cyberbullying in November 2016, days before her husband won the White House. At the time, she lamented that “our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and to teenagers.”
Following the inauguration, however, the first lady has addressed cyberbullying only in a few public settings. Those have included a high-profile speech at the United Nations in September, in which she emphasized the need to “teach each child the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of kindness, mindfulness, integrity and leadership, which can only be taught by example.”
More recently, Trump appeared to be telegraphing a policy push to come: She hired new aides, including a director of policy, in January. The first lady publicly returned to the issue of cyberbullying last month in the wake of the Parkland shooting.
Not long after that attack, student Lauren Hogg tweeted Trump to express frustration that her stepson, Donald Trump Jr., had liked tweets suggesting that survivors had been coached to speak to the media and cover for the FBI. Days later, during a speech praising the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Trump spoke about the need for more civility online and the importance of “positive habits with social media and technology.”
For its part, Silicon Valley has struggled to combat abuse and harassment online. In a study from the Pew Research Center last year, for example, 41 percent of Americans said they had personally experienced some form of harassment on the Web — for myriad reasons including their gender, ethnicity or physical appearance.
Along with representatives from Amazon, Facebook, Google, Snap and Twitter, top aides from Microsoft and the Internet Association, a lobbying organization for Silicon Valley, as well as consumer groups, will be at the first lady’s meeting, the people said. Each of these companies either did not respond to emails seeking comment or declined to comment Tuesday.
Melania Trump first pledged to highlight and fight cyberbullying in November 2016. The first lady is not expected to announce specific policy proposals at the meeting, set for Tuesday, sources said.