Multiple initiatives to fight ‘hate-fueled violence’, racism and extremism announced at summit
At a White House summit on Thursday to address “hate-fueled violence,” President Joe Biden denounced white supremacists and urged congressional lawmakers to end special immunity for corporations. social media.
Biden also called on Americans at large to speak out against racism and extremism at the event, dubbed the “United We Stand” summit, which was attended by bipartisan local leaders, experts and survivors of motivated violent attacks. by hate.
The event aimed “to counter the destructive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety, to mobilize diverse sectors of society and communities across the country against these dangers and to propose a shared, inclusive vision and bipartisan for a more united America. “, said the Biden administration on the website of the summit event.
“All forms of violence-fueled hatred have no place in America,” the president said at Thursday’s summit, recalling various attacks, including a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, and another in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. earlier this year.
“White supremacists won’t have the last laugh,” Biden said, without mentioning any other group that has incited violence and hatred in the United States in recent years.
Biden briefly mentioned the events of January 6, 2021, when the US Capitol was breached, saying the event did not reflect “who we are” as a nation.
He claimed the United States had a long “direct hate line” against minority groups and that politics and the media had given them “too much oxygen” in recent years.
The Democrat said he wants Congress to “hold social media companies accountable for spreading hate.” The remarks received a standing ovation from the participants.
“I call on Congress to remove special immunity for social media companies and impose much stricter transparency requirements on all of them,” Biden said, alluding to Section 230.
Publishers can be held liable for any content they post, while social media platforms are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that protects online businesses from liability related to content posted by the users. In particular, part of the law states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be considered the publisher or speaker of information provided by another information content provider”.
The Biden administration has repeatedly called for the revocation of Section 230 and has also backed stronger antitrust enforcement and transparency on tech companies, some of which currently allow users to post anonymously. .
The FBI said in 2021 that hate crimes in the United States hit a 12-year high in 2020, according to the latest available data. The Justice Department said it would redouble its efforts to counter it.
The Biden administration on Thursday announced what appears to be a plethora of public and private sector initiatives to address hate-motivated violence.
This included a billion dollar investment that was to be pushed by a group of philanthropists called “New Pluralists” for funders to support a 10-year effort to “build a culture of respect, belonging and collaboration. in communities and organizations across America” and “to stand behind the vital work of courageous Gatherers, Healers and Bridgers.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced at the summit that all 94 U.S. prosecutors’ offices will work on a “Unite Against Hate” initiative in 2023.
“Earlier this year, our US attorney offices for Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Eastern District of Washington completed the Unite Against Hate pilot programs,” he said. “And today, I’m pleased to announce that this initiative will expand to 16 additional US law offices and launch in all 94 US law offices over the next year.”
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence is developing a website of “key reports and resources on domestic violent extremism financing to help inform the public and private sectors.”
“Treasury will also undertake strategic engagement with regional financial institutions across the United States to discuss the risks associated with financing domestic violent extremism, and will host a workshop with virtual currency companies on domestic violent extremist use. virtual assets,” the Biden administration announced.
Technology Companies Act
The White House summit also featured announcements from four tech companies – YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft and Meta – about the actions they are taking to counter violent extremism online.
The Biden administration said “but advances in digital technologies, including social media and other online platforms, have also brought about unintended consequences.” Unintended consequences included “the spread of violent extremist ideologies and mobilization towards violence, for which the tech sector must take responsibility.”
“Americans know how the internet can fuel hate, misogyny and abuse with ripple effects that threaten the safety of our offline communities,” he added.
YouTube said that, among other actions, it would remove “content that glorifies acts of violence for the purpose of inciting others to harm, fundraise or recruit, even if the creators of such content are not linked to a designated terrorist group”.
Meta, formerly Facebook, will engage in a new research partnership with the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism (CTEC) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. The research will “analyze trends in violent extremism and the tools that help communities combat it.”
Twitch, an Amazon-owned live-streaming platform, is set to release a new tool to “accelerate its ongoing commitment to deterring hate.” The tool “empowers its streamers and their communities to combat hate and harassment and further individualize the safety experience of their channels.” There were no details announced about the new tool.
The company will also launch “new community education initiatives on topics including identifying harmful misinformation and deterring hate violence,” the Biden administration announced.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is “expanding its application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools for detecting and preventing violence and using play to build empathy in young people.”
Microsoft has developed AI/ML tools “that can help detect credible threats of violence or public safety,” and will make these tools more basic and affordable so schools and small organizations can use them “to help to the prevention of violence”.
Microsoft is also developing a “new experience” for Minecraft: Education Edition, a game-based platform for creative learning, to “help students, families, and educators learn ways to build an online world and offline better and safer through respect, empathy, trust. and safety.”
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.