It's been over a year since Melania Trump pledged to fight against cyberbullying if Donald Trump was elected to the presidency. But seeing as Trump has so far done little on the subject, many people are kind of skeptical. (And it doesn't help when Trump's own husband launches Twitter bombs by the day.) She isn't letting any of that stop her, though. According to her latest comments, Melania Trump knows her anti-cyberbulling campaign has people skeptical, but she still seems confident in her mission to make social media spaces safer.
On March 20, Trump sat down with technology industry executives at the White House to discuss cyberbullying, internet safety and the "impacts of technology" on children, ABC News reported. While she sat surrounded by tech leaders from major companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google, Trump admitted that she's aware of the skepticism and criticism that her campaign receives, and that she knows it's not going away any time soon. “I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic," she said. "I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue, and I know that will continue.”
Mm-hmm. So why might people be, as she puts it, "skeptical?" Well, I haven't done my daily sweep of her husband's social media yet to share a new, wild tweet of his, but President Trump usually goes on name-calling attacks against fellow politicians, journalists, entertainers, and more. So naturally, people have seen Trump's anti-cyberbullying campaign as a bit of a stretch.
However, according to CNN, East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham said the president is his own person and has nothing to do with his wife's mission. She told CNN in October 2017, "She does what she feels is right and knows that she has a real opportunity through her role as first lady to have a positive impact on the lives of children."
Trump made cyberbullying her focus back in late 2016.
According to TIME, Trump vowed to make safer social media spaces during her husband's presidential campaign. On Nov. 3, 2016, she said,
Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers. It is never okay when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied, or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground. And it is absolutely unacceptable when it is done by someone with no name hiding on the internet ... We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media. It will be one of the main focuses of my work, if I am privileged enough to become your first lady.
But since then, it doesn't seem like done much on the issue. In July 2017, eight months after she vowed to combat cyberbullying, The Boston Globe reported that Trump did "nothing publicly to live up to her original promise." In fact, today's roundtable is her very first public meeting on the subject. But then again, it's probably really awkward to move forward on cyberbullying when your husband is out there tweeting childish insults at the drop of a hat.
Twitter users sure think so.
But maybe student activists inspired her to action.
Following the Parkland school shooting, which left 17 people dead on Feb. 14 and sparked a chain of student protests around the country, Trump said that she was "heartened" by the student movements. During a White House gathering on Feb. 26, she called on adults to create "positive habits with social media," and asked governors' spouses to promote values like encouragement and compassion "in our children." She said,
In my year as first lady, I have also learned that it is often times after a tragedy that you see strength and resilience of the human spirit. I have been heartened to see children across this country using their voices to speak out and try to create change. They are our future and they deserve a voice.
She also opened up about other issues that affect students, including cyberbullying. She explained:
It is important that as adults, we take the lead and the responsibility in helping our children manage the many issues they are facing today. This means encouraging positive habits with social media and technology, even limiting time online and understanding the content they are exposed to on a daily basis.
At least Trump is "woke" now and is getting back to her promise. Better late than never, right?