Donald Trump today gathered his most influential social media sycophants for a White House "summit" that involved rewarding the people who spread hateful, racist, and sexist memes across the planet, and made a point not to invite Twitter or Facebook themselves to his little digital hate rally.
The White House has kept quiet about the guest list. But it seems to consist of the Trump Twitterverse, conservative social media personalities who orbit around Trump's Twitter star.
And yet, Trump has attacked those same social media platforms that have been so key to his success.
"You look at Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants, and I've made it clear that we as a country cannot tolerate political censorship, blacklisting and rigged search results," the president said last year.
In May, Facebook banned several high-profile social media personalities who they say violated their policies against hate speech that engages in violence, including right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones; extremists Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Joseph Watson, who works for Jones' Infowars; and white supremacist Paul Nehlen, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018. The platform also banned Infowars, as well as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Twitter had already banned several of these personalities.
Google, Facebook and Twitter all deny that they censor conservatives on their platforms, but a lot of conservatives don't believe that.
Conservative talk show host Bill Mitchell is one of them. He blames Twitter's algorithm for some of his followers not being able to see his tweets. He'll be attending Thursday's social media summit, and he hopes they talk about how social media has become the modern public square and the responsibilities that come with that.
"If you become the public square, you really need to offer First Amendment protections to people," Mitchell said to NPR. "Where everybody can have free and open speech. Let's have the debate. And may the best man win."
What the Trumpies here mean by free speech is "a government takeover of all social media so that America has to see our photoshopped images of various Democrats going into gas chambers" and I expect it will happen by executive fiat.
At the very least, Trump is telling these digital meme soldiers that if they get blocked to contact the White House for backup. Gotta have that propaganda flow freely, after all.