How US civil society groups and lawmakers can help end social media complicity in the spread of hatred, harassment, and bigotry.
Three high-profile mass murders committed in recent years by white supremacists had at least one thing in common: a relatively fringe social media platform called 8kun (formerly 8chan) that has become a haven for white nationalists. The alleged El Paso, Texas, shooter who killed 23 people in 2019 posted an anti-immigrant manifesto to the platform prior to the attack. In it, he expressed support for the accused shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, who killed 51 people in two mosques and also used 8kun.
And before the 2019 synagogue shooting in Poway, California, the alleged gunman posted a link to his manifesto on 8kun, referencing the shooters in New Zealand and in the 2018 massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
These killing sprees all used a social media platform to spread hate. And unfortunately, although most social media users don’t frequent 8kun, hate-fueled violence isn’t limited to the darkest corners of the Internet. Many extremists use mainstream platforms rather than fringe services to communicate their message and recruit adherents. And because they exploit popular consumer products to push prejudice, we must confront it on the largest platforms that reach billions of people every day.
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