Experts say Facebook and Twitter were ‘indirectly involved’ in the US Capitol siege since they gave President Trump and his far-right supporters a place to congregate for years (FB, TWTR, GOOG, GOOGL)

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A group of pro-Trump extremists stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, and while some experts have told Insider platforms like Facebook and Twitter aren’t “directly implicit” in the violence that ensued, they’re not completely absolved of their role in it either.

Reports have detailed how violence escalated in far-right corners of the internet leading up to January 6, including on Twitter and Facebook, and President Donald Trump himself has used those same platforms to stoke the flames by further spouting baseless claims of election fraud.

“Directly implicit? No. Were they indirectly involved because they haven’t policed him accordingly over the past four years? Yes,” Ari Lightman, professor of digital media at Carnegie Mellon and social media expert, told Business Insider.

Lightman said Wednesday’s event is an example of is what can result from false information propagated on social platforms.

“This isn’t something that happened based on Trump’s speech this week — this has been going on for months and months…This literal sort of building up of pent-up angst and anger around the election. This was very systematic,” Lightman said.

Since Wednesday, the tech giants have rolled out unprecedented changes to crack down on Trump’s misleading posts — Facebook and Amazon-owned Twitch have banned him until at least the Inauguration, and Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account late Friday.

But many have lamented that these changes are too little, too late, including some Twitter employees who wrote a letter demanding that the platform suspend Trump permanently before the company agreed to do so. For years, Trump and his allies have been able to utilize online platforms and their algorithms — which favor sensationalistic content — to sow misinformation campaigns. 

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That made it easier for people to become radicalized in online groups before hearing their beliefs echoed by Trump and his allies on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, Emma Ruby-Sachs, executive director of the consumer watchdog group SumOfUs, explained to Insider. All of this content likely spread even faster, since algorithms favor the salacious posts typical of far-right communities online, she said.

“The movement that stormed the Capitol was born out of ‘Stop the Steal'” — Trump’s baseless campaign that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him — “which not only started on Facebook and Twitter but grew, aided by the algorithm that those platforms use to make money,” Ruby-Sachs said.

Misinformation could find a new home on smaller, niche social platforms

Platforms continuing to simply add warning banners to posts containing misinformation likely won’t do much, Lightman warned.

He called it the implied truth effect: By selectively labeling false news and misinformation, platforms elevate the apparent credibility or legitimacy of news stories, even if they are fake. Indeed, Twitter has done more harm than good in inconsistently implementing its moderation policies, like when it banned the URL of an article …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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