Melania Trump Is Hosting A Cyberbullying Summit & She's Already Facing Backlash

by Hannah Golden
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

More than a year after vowing to fight for bullying against children online if her husband was elected, the first lady is now arranging a talk with some of the biggest names in the online world to talk about how they've combatted online harassment. In the latest development of Melania Trump's cyberbullying initiative, she's scheduled to meet with representatives of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and more, according to The Washington Post. The meeting, slated for March 20, is one of few developments made in recent months on the first lady's platform.

The meeting is reportedly not about "cyberbullying," a spokeswoman for the first lady told The Washington Post. Rather, she said that Trump "simply asked for a meeting to discuss one of the many things that impacts children," avoiding using the term "cyberbullying" as she has historically in speaking about her agenda. According to NBC, sources say the invitations for the meeting have been sent.

Elite Daily reached out to Trump's spokesperson for comment but had not heard back at time of publication.

Trump stated back in 2016 that one of her initiatives as first lady would be to improve children's lives by addressing online harassment and bullying. But critics have long taken issue what they view as hypocrisy given her husband's penchant for targeting individuals online.

She endured rounds of criticism after a speech at the United Nations in September 2017. "As adults we are not merely responsible, we are accountable. I hope you will join me in recommitting ourselves to teaching the next generation to lead and honor the golden rule, do unto others as you would have do unto you," she said in her speech. She stressed the need for kindness and integrity online, prompting more calls for her to do more to curb the behavior coming from her own family.

The news of her proposed meeting with the social media and tech giants this week produced more of the same backlash.

"Apparently, the word 'irony' doesn't translate from Slovenian," late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said on his show this week. "All she has to do to fight cyberbullying is take a hammer to her husband's thumbs and phone."

Another user, Lauren Hogg, even called out Trump for failing to address the online habits that were leading to her own cyberbullying. Hogg, the younger sister of Parkland shooting survivor-turned-activist David Hogg, called out the first lady last week after Donald Trump Jr. liked a conspiracy theory video claiming David Hogg was a paid "crisis actor." The video apparently prompted threats against the Hogg family.

"Hey @FLOTUS you say that your mission as First Lady is to stop cyber bullying," tweeted Lauren Hogg on Feb. 28. "[W]ell then, don’t you think it would have been smart to have a convo with your step-son @DonaldTrump Jr before he liked a post about a false conspiracy theory which in turn put a target on my back."

At a luncheon last month with survivors of the Parkland shooting in Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 students and staff, Trump discussed the importance of combatting cyberbullying. "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," Trump said, per CNN. "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."

In October 2017, CNN asked a spokesperson how Mrs. Trump feels about her husband's online habits in light of her platform to address bullying. "Mrs. Trump is independent and acts independently from her husband," said East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham. "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."

More than a year after taking office, the first lady has yet to say much about how exactly she plans to carry out her platform and address cyberbullying while in office, and has been scrutinized for the slow pace of her progress on the issue thus far.