The online disinformation that led to violent unrest on the Capitol last week went beyond false claims and reached the point of “radicalization,” the researchers told a Reuters Next group on Tuesday.
“These are not false claims, or even conspiracies, but many of the people at the Capitol are now part of a completely alternate reality,” said Claire Wardle, co-founder of the nonprofit anti-disinformation First Draft. He added that people need to stop thinking of online conspiracies as if they exist separately from real-world damage: “They’re not just sitting at home in their pajamas clicking” yes, I agree “, they’re out there with … guns and pipe bombs.”
Violent rhetoric on online platforms increased in the weeks leading up to last week’s unrest at the Capitol, as right-wing groups openly planned the assault on the Capitol, according to researchers and public communications. Wardle and Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, both pointed out that these conspiracy theories would survive the Trump administration and said they would likely play into upcoming events such as the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“One of the biggest trends we saw during 2020 was this convergence of different types of conspiracy theories,” said Brookie, on the panel moderated by senior Reuters Fact Check producer Christina Anagnostopoulos. After the riots, tech companies rushed to crack down on baseless allegations of election fraud and content that could incite violence. Twitter Inc and Facebook Last week Inc blocked Trump’s accounts, while Amazon Web Services and major app stores shut down the social network Parler.
However, the researchers criticized the reactive nature of the tech giants’ actions. “I am so frustrated that they are making impulsive decisions in the midst of an insurgency,” said Wardle, who said she was concerned about the lack of transparency and control over these decisions.
On Monday, Facebook said it would ban the content with the phrase “stop theft,” which became a rallying cry around pro-Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration. The FBI has warned that armed protests are planned for Washington and all 50 US state capitals in the run-up to the inauguration, a federal law enforcement source told Reuters.
In a Reuters Next panel on Monday, Camille Francois, chief innovation officer at social media analytics firm Graphika and Preston Golson, director of strategic consulting firm Brunswick Group also highlighted the growing threat of real-world damage. from online misinformation in corporate industries, likening its spread to “a forest fire” taking hold on combustible material. For more coverage from for the next Reuters conference, click here or www.reuters.com/business/reuters-next
To watch Reuters Next live, visit https://www.reutersevents.com/events/next/register.php
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
- The online disinformation that led to violent unrest on the Capitol last week went beyond false claims and reached the point of “radicalization,” the researchers told a Reuters Next group on Tuesday. “These are not false claims, or even conspiracies, but many of the people at the Capitol are now part of a completely alternate reality,” said Claire Wardle, co-founder of the nonprofit anti-disinformation First Draft.
- REUTERS NEXT – Online disinformation that led to the siege of the Capitol is ‘radicalization’, say researchers