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Social Media Firms Failed to Halt Online Extremism, House Staff Said

The House's Jan. 6 committee spent months gathering stunning new details on how social media companies failed to address the online extremism and calls for violence that preceded the Capitol riot. Their evidence was written up in a 122-page memo that was circulated among the committee, according to a draft viewed by the Washington Post. In the end, committee leaders declined to delve into those topics in detail in their final report, reluctant to dig into the roots of domestic extremism taking hold in the Republican Party beyond former president Trump and concerned about the risks of a public battle with powerful tech companies, according to three sources.


Congressional investigators found evidence that tech platforms — especially Twitter — failed to heed their own employees’ warnings about violent rhetoric on their platforms and bent their rules to avoid penalizing conservatives, particularly then-president Trump, out of fear of reprisals. The draft report details how most platforms did not take “dramatic” steps to rein in extremist content until after the attack on the Capitol, despite clear red flags across the internet. “The sum of this is that alt-tech, fringe, and mainstream platforms were exploited in tandem by right-wing activists to bring American democracy to the brink of ruin,” the staffers wrote in their memo. “These platforms enabled the mobilization of extremists on smaller sites and whipped up conservative grievance on larger, more mainstream ones.”

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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