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Tuesday July 16th, 2019 12:28AM

The Latest: Trump says big tech can't be allowed to censor

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's conference on social media (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says big tech companies must not be allowed to censor the voices of the American people on social media.

Trump is speaking at a White House conference highlighting the president's belief that the nation's biggest social media companies are biased against conservatives.

Trump says he's directing his administration to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect the free speech rights of all Americans.

He also says he's going to invite representatives of major social media platforms to the White House to discuss the issue.

A trade group representing Facebook, Google and dozens of other tech companies insists that internet companies are not biased against any political ideology and that conservative voices have effectively used social media.

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4 p.m.

President Donald Trump says social media allows messages to be sent directly to the people without going through the "fake news filter."

Trump says social media users are "challenging the media gatekeepers and corporate censors to bring the truth to the American people." Trump spoke at a White House conference exploring bias against conservatives by the nation's biggest social media companies.

Tech companies are notably absent from the event. A spokesman for a trade group representing Facebook, Google and dozens of other tech companies says, "Internet companies are not biased against any political ideology, and conservative voices in particular have used social media to great effect."

The conference gives Trump a chance to energize online bloggers and Twitter users who have rallied behind his presidency as he seeks re-election.

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8:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump, who has weaponized social media to eviscerate opponents and promote himself, is convening a White House conference of like-minded critics of Big Tech, notably excluding representatives from the very platforms he exploits.

The meeting represents an escalation of his battle with companies like Facebook, Google and even his preferred communications outlet, Twitter. The president has claimed, without evidence, that the companies are "against me" and even suggested U.S. regulators should sue them on grounds of anti-conservative bias.

The high-profile White House event raises the prospect of Trump using the forum to signal tough actions ahead by his administration against big tech companies in the areas of competition and privacy.

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