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Jan6th Committee – Social Media & the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol – Summary of Investigative Findings

Washington Post – Social Media & the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol – Summary of Investigative Findings – “…The Select Committee has also collected evidence from a high-ranking employee serving on Twitter’s Safety Policy Team on January 6th; she said that she was deeply concerned about the content that was being posted on Twitter, including real-time posts about the movement of the crowd and breach points of the Capitol on the day. This, combined with the findings of experts and our in-house social media analysts, demonstrate that this sort of mobilization and celebration of the siege was not just occurring on fringe platforms. Indeed, while extremists mobilized on alternative and fringe platforms, false claims of election fraud and violent, angry rhetoric spread like wildfire across larger mainstream platforms. Some of this was stoked directly by the President himself, who tweeted on December 19″ that there would be a “big protest” in Washington on January 6th and that his supporters should “be there, will be wild.” Evidence provided to the Select Committee shows that before this tweet, January 6th was not a major target for protesters or violent actors. In the wake of the tweet, it became the primary target, the “last stand” for Trump and his supporters. Within Twitter’s Safety Policy Team, for example, employees immediately noticed an escalatory shift in the tenor of content on the platform. Meanwhile, Discord shut down a pro-Trump server within hours of the tweet because of coordinated planning that began as an immediate response. On Facebook, users coordinated to spread false claims of election fraud over the platform. Internal Facebook research describes how the “Stop the Steal” movement was propagated by a small core of individuals coordinating to send thousands of invitations to Stop the Steal Facebook groups each day while strategically evading enforcement of platform policies. Many of these users did so using multiple accounts, a violation of the platform’s terms of service. These groups were rife with incitement to violence, threats, hate speech, and misinformation about the election. But because Facebook had no explicit policy against election denial and its systems for ? “Gallows or guillotines? The chilling debate on before the Capitol siege,” detecting violent rhetoric were unreliable, it took down relatively few of these groups before January 6th. Despite the knowledge that these groups had ties to violent actors, employee recommendations that the company take the problem more seriously were ignored or outright rejected…”

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