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White House Invites Tech Companies To Examine Online Extremism

Say Contributor

Following last weekend’s mass shootings, President Donald Trump has invited a number of unidentified internet and technology companies to the White House for a roundtable discussion on combating online violent extremism. Meeting Of Minds Trump has also directed the Justice Department to work with online platforms and state and local governments to detect mass shooters before they strike. Though the spread of white supremacy and conspiracy theories on the internet is indeed radicalizing Americans and inciting them to violence, stymying its reach will not be easy. Platforming The New York Times recently looked at the obstacles law enforcement are facing with combating the growing threat of domestic terrorism. While Federal officials have broad powers to combat international terrorism, their options are more limited domestically. The First Amendment protects hate speech, so unlike some European countries like France, the American government can’t force companies like Twitter and Facebook to kick white nationalists or people peddling hate speech and conspiracy theorists off their platforms, though shareholders have begun beeseching Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to take the threat more seriously. Breeding Ground The alleged shooter in the El Paso attack posted anti-immigrant rants to the notorious online message board 8chan, known as both a hive of and an incubator for white nationalists and violent extremist before the attack; it’s at least the third time this year a manifesto linked to a mass shooting surfaced on 8chan. Social Summit It is unclear if Trump’s proposed roundtable will accomplish much. The guest list for the summit has not been announced, and it is unclear who will be attending, as no companies have announced their participation. Twitter, Facebook and Google either didn’t respond or declined to comment when asked if they would attend. All of those companies skipped the “social media summit” Trump held in June. -Michael Tedder Photo by Adobe {TWTR, GOOGL, NASDAQ,}