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White House on Friday to Host Social Media Officials to Discuss Violent Extremism

Andrew Feinberg

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WASHINGTON, August 7, 2019 - The White House on Friday will host a meeting to bring together administration officials and technology executives to discuss ways to combat violent extremism on the internet, a senior administration official told Breakfast Media on Wednesday.

"We have invited internet and technology companies for a discussion of violent extremism online," the official said.

The official stressed that the meeting would led at the staff level with select senior White House officials in attendance "along with representatives from a range of companies."

The Trump administration's newfound interest in combatting online extremism comes in the wake of last weekend's mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas Wal-Mart, which claimed the lives of 22 people.

The alleged perpetrator, a 21-year-old white nationalist, posted an online manifesto rife with anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric which closely tracked Trump’s own repeated words about an “invasion” of Mexican and other Latin Americans at the United States border.

The manifesto, entitled “The Inconvenient Truth,” was posted to the online platform 8chan. In it, the alleged perpetrator claimed that the shooting was in response to the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.

Last weekend's shooting came less than six months after another alleged mass shooter based in Christchurch, New Zealand, posted a similarly racist manifesto to 8chan before he shot and killed 51 people at two mosques.

While he did not address his own rhetoric's role in inspiring the El Paso shooter in prepared remarks delivered on Monday, Trump did attempt to place some measure of blame for the shooting on the internet, which he said "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 said.

"The perils of the Internet and social media cannot be ignored, and they will not be ignored."

(Illustration by Melissa Joskow for Media Matters.)

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