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Biden urges accountability for social media platforms at anti-hate summit

President Biden on Thursday called for accountability for social media platforms for their role in fueling violence as the White House hosted a summit aimed at combating hate-based violence.

Biden, in a speech to lawmakers, administration officials and activists at the White House, urged the public to reject hate and focus on what unites the nation. He spoke about the rise of hate groups and domestic terrorism, noting that his decision to run for president was fueled by a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and then-President Trump’s response.

The president specifically called out social media platforms for their role in fueling some of the violence. 

Biden emphasized the need to “hold social media platforms accountable for spreading hate and fuel[ing] violence,” which prompted a standing ovation from attendees of the summit.

“And I’m calling on Congress to get rid of special immunity for social media companies and impose much stronger transparency requirements on all of them,” Biden added to cheers.

The White House announced earlier Thursday that YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft and Meta launched updates aimed at combating violent extremism online.

YouTube will expand its policies by removing content glorifying violent acts for the purpose of inspiring others to commit harm, even if the creator of that content is not related to a designated terrorist group.

Twitch, an Amazon-owned livestreaming platform, will launch a tool this year that “empowers its streamers and their communities to help counter hate and harassment and further individualize the safety experience of their channels.”

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, will partner with the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies on research to analyze trends in violent extremism and tools that help communities combat it. 

Biden spoke at the “United We Stand” summit, a gathering convened by White House officials specifically to focus on a surge in hate-based attacks on religious and minority groups. He was introduced by Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed at the 2017 rally in Charlottesville when a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of protesters.

The president announced the launch of Dignity.us, a bipartisan initiative led by former White House officials who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations to foster dialogues in communities across the country.

Biden also announced federal agencies would allocate resources to help law enforcement, houses of worship and schools report and identify hate-fueled violence. He also called for “a new era of service” at organizations like AmeriCorps to foster stronger community dialogue.

“We face at this moment, in my view, an inflection point, one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s going to come after,” Biden said. “We must choose to be a nation of hope, unity and optimism or a nation of fear and division and hate. We choose. As we do, we know this: Hate fueled violence is born into the fertile soil of a toxic division.”

The country has seen a wave of hate-fueled crimes in recent years: a mass shooting at an Orlando LGBTQ nightclub in 2016, a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, a mass shooting at a grocery store in an African American neighborhood in Buffalo earlier this year, and a string of crimes targeting Asian Americans during the pandemic.


Source: The Hill

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