Lessons on Social Media and Mainstream Media in the Light of US Capitol Attack
An EU official termed the attack on Washington incident as “social medias 9/11” and we need to acknowledge that 9/11 caused a shift in global security so should this unfortunate incident. Social media offers a platform that I free of consequences, legal and otherwise.President Donald Trump legitimized radical supporters by calling out to the on social media, in person and other platforms. Plans to storm the capitol were made in a public forum and nothing was done to combat with such obvious warning signs.
The fact that mainstream media in its way enabled the attack is irrefutable. Right-wing media spread disinformation about the election and contested President-Elect Joe Bidens claim to the Oval Office. They intentionally avoided all warning signs by experts who claimed that the disinformation on mainstream media will lead to violence. When right-wing media feigns surprise at the acts committed in the Capitol they conveniently forget their actions that have directly aided the situation. With millions of rigorous listeners to morning “talk shows” and right-wing anchors who instead of maintaining journalistic integrity went on national television and supported President Trump’s claims of alleged election fraud.
Storming a government building in the US was discussed before on social media in the US hundreds wandered into the Nevada desert in 2019 to Storm Area 51 which conspiracy theorists believe aliens are kept by the US Government. Because of the lack of planning nothing major occurred but this time was different. The reaction by the police was unfortunate and the whole incident is characteristic of a terrorist attack.
We need to legally address the problems and challenges posed by social media and media outlets. Archaic Laws can no longer govern a platform that advanced ad futuristic. Social media contests the line between journalism and opinionated speech or hate speech. Nothing is more proof than the statements of those who stormed the capitol building claiming to do that as an act of journalism and nationalism.
Here it is essential to note the important movements that gained traction online- #MeToo #Timesup #BlackLivesMatter and #MarchforOurLives. We need to understand the dual nature of social media and it is feeding into vigilante justice and extremism. There is a documented increase in Islamophobic, anti-Semitic activity online. It has become a breeding ground for Pro-Nazi sentiments. The system puts a paramount of the stress on content moderators who are often overworked and proven inefficient. 9281 tweets are sent globally every second. 92% of Americans have used Twitter at least once. Facebook has over 2 billion active monthly users. Close to 70% of all US adults use Facebook. The inability of social media companies to properly moderate content due to lack of labour and other difficulties shows that we need better security measures.
Media houses have a responsibility to differentiate facts from opinions and the lack of reliable sources make people susceptible to fake news. There is a lack of a common fact-checking platform. We need to focus on content moderations and control of fake news and spread of disinformation which has been proven to be worse than misinformation. I started by quoting the Capitol attack as social medias 9//11 and I would like to end by saying that this has exposed vulnerabilities in all our systems which is not limited to the US so we need to update our security to match our technology.