Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Twitter has failed to address its use by far-right extremists and was a major tool in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection

  Six months after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Twitter continues to be a major tool for far-right extremists, facilitating and boosting their efforts, and – if left unchecked – will likely enable politically motivated violence again, according to a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

  The report, titled, “‘We Make Mistakes:’ Twitter’s Embrace of the Extreme Far Right,” documents the company’s failure to address the use of its social media platform to spread disinformation and highlights its complicity in the far-right movement by amplifying those voices. 

  “Perhaps above any other platform, Twitter enabled the Jan. 6 insurrectionists to organize their attack on the U.S. Capitol,” said the report’s author, Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigative reporter for the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “This multibillion-dollar company has clearly made the calculation that enabling and even promoting fascists like Nick Fuentes is good for their bottom line. There is little doubt that we will see similar violence again if they do not correct course immediately or are not forced to do so.”

  The analysis also contains several other revelations, including that:

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and his team know that far-right extremists are plotting on the platform because they verified the extremists and watched them do it. Dorsey even actively “followed” election disinformation spreaders such as Mike Cernovich, Ali Alexander, and Tim Pool prior to the November 2020 vote.
  •  The SPLC warned Twitter about verified “Stop the Steal” extremists, including Jack Posobiec and Nick Fuentes, in the runup to Jan. 6. However, Twitter not only ignored those warnings but also has promoted tweets by Posobiec. Meanwhile, Fuentes brags openly that Twitter helps him retain his audience.
  •  Extremists exploit Twitter’s algorithm to create chaos by rigging trending topics. The company’s tools also “recommend” white nationalists and other extremists.
  •  Twitter moderators “are powerless,” according to a source with inside information about the process. The company’s top brass is ideologically driven, the source said. This explains why Twitter has enabled so many frauds and extremists to have verified accounts and big followings.

  “Twitter’s willingness to amplify extreme far-right voices has been a significant part of the company’s history,” the report states. “Now, those voices are one of the defining characteristics of the platform.”

Read the full report here.

  This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

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