Before the massacre, the Uvalde shooter frequently threatened teenage girls online
YouTube will update its policies to remove videos glorifying acts to inspire others or raise funds, even when the creators have no ties to terrorist groups. Twitch, an Amazon-owned streaming service, will soon be rolling out new tools to help its creators improve security and limit harassment on their channels. And Microsoft will launch online safety education for students and families in its popular game Minecraft.
Political pressure has mounted on President Biden and Vice President Harris to follow through on their campaign promises to look more closely at the link between social media and violence. Biden is also expected to reiterate his calls for Congress on Thursday to “fundamentally reform” Section 230, a legal shield that shields tech companies from lawsuits over photos, videos and other content people share on their services. He should also support the creation of transparency requirements that would allow researchers and the public to look under the hood of social media companies.
Biden and Harris say the tech industry “must take responsibility” for the role their services play in amplifying violent extremist ideologies, according to a website of the summit on Thursday.
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The flurry of announcements comes as tech companies increasingly come under the microscope for their role in spreading hate and violence. The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol also surveyed social media companies and spoke to their current and former employees in an effort to determine the role technology played in the attack. ‘offensive.
However, the ability of Democrats to pass new policies addressing those concerns is limited in the current Congress, where they hold a shaky majority with Harris’ decisive 50-50 Senate vote. Republicans have varying criticisms of social media companies’ content moderation practices, arguing that the companies are removing too much content.
In the absence of congressional action, lawmakers and advocates have relied on public pressure to force companies to change their policies themselves. The companies will further announce measures to raise public awareness of these ideologies and to better research extremism. YouTube will launch a campaign, initially in the United States, aimed at helping young people identify manipulated information online. Meta will begin a partnership with the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies to study new trends in extremism.
Thursday’s summit builds on other recent work at the White House. In June, Harris announced a new task force that would study and develop policy recommendations to tackle online abuse.