Monday 19 November 2018

Melania lectures on cyber bullying as Trump lays into rivals on Twitter

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania return to the White House together on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania return to the White House together on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Ben Riley-Smith in Washington

Melania Trump has warned about the "destructive and harmful" impact of using social media incorrectly - while her husband was busy settling scores with typically aggressive messages on Twitter.

America's first lady used a speech at a cyber-bullying prevention conference yesterday to stress the importance of teaching children about the "safe and responsible use of social media". Yet as she was issuing the warning on the outskirts of Washington, Mr Trump was in another part of the city sending barbed tweets.

The US president wrote that Robert Mueller, the man leading the Russian election meddling probe, was "disgraced and discredited", and called John Brennan, the former CIA director, the agency's worst leader in history.

A spokesman for Ms Trump played down any link between the first lady's comments and the president's tweeting.

Ms Trump formally launched her 'Be Best' campaign aimed at promoting the well-being of children in May. Appearing at the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention cyber-bullying prevention summit yesterday, she delivered a short speech.

"In today's global society, social media is an inevitable part of our children's daily lives," Ms Trump said.

"It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly. That is why 'Be Best' chooses to focus on the importance of teaching our next generation how to conduct themselves safely and in a positive manner in an online setting."

She went on: "By listening to children's ideas and concerns, I believe adults will be better able to help them navigate this often difficult topic.

"Let's face it: most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits."

Before and after she spoke, he husband was using Twitter to call out his perceived critics, tweeting that Mr Mueller, the special counsel, and his legal team were a "national disgrace".

Mr Trump also wrote that he hoped Mr Brennan - who was stripped of his access to intelligence last week - would sue so documents could be published showing he did a "poor job" at the CIA.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director, was asked why Ms Trump continues to engage on cyber-bullying prevention when Mr Trump uses Twitter to insult people.

She responded: "The first lady's presence at events such as today's cyber-bullying summit elevates an issue that is important to children and families across this country. She is aware of the criticism but it will not deter her from doing what she feels is right.

"The president is proud of her commitment to children and encourages her in all that she does."

Irish Independent

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