Melania Trump Publicly Launches Cyberbullying Initiative

First lady had promised to make online harassment one of her priorities, will hold first public event
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 20, 2018 5:11 AM CDT
Melania to Hold First Public Forum on Online Bullying
First lady Melania Trump speaks at Manchester Community College in Manchester, NH, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Melania Trump is hosting executives from major online and social media companies to discuss cyberbullying and internet safety, more than a year after saying that would be her issue as first lady. The meeting Tuesday marks her first public event on the topic, a choice some observers have questioned given that her husband often berates people on Twitter. Amazon, Snap, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are among the companies that are expected to attend the meeting, per the AP; the Internet Association said it will also be represented. All the major tech companies have strict policies prohibiting harassment and other bullying behavior on their services, but they primarily rely on users to report abuses and weed them out. They try to clearly spell out the kinds of remarks and other posts that won't be tolerated in special sections such as one Facebook, the largest online social network, has set up.

But the efforts so far have fallen short, leading to rampant abuses that even some of the companies concede have driven away or tormented parts of their audience. The companies are also struggling to balance preventing harassment and other abuses and maintaining a commitment to freedom of expression. Mrs. Trump announced in a speech near the end of the 2016 presidential campaign that her priority as first lady would be to fight cyberbullying. A Slovenia native, she at the time lamented a US culture she said had grown "too mean and too rough"—a curious speech for a woman whose husband uses Twitter to dismiss people as losers and taunt them with unflattering nicknames. She recently asked the spouses of US governors to help promote values such as kindness and respect in kids. She has also spoken about limiting the amount of time kids spend online. (More Melania Trump stories.)

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