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Social media platforms in the aftermath of violence at US Capitol

Social media helping online crimestoppers
Posted at 7:33 AM, Jan 16, 2021

(WSYM) — Social media platforms are facing new scrutiny as they react to the violence at the US Capitol.

Associate Professor of Information and Associate Director of the Center For Social Media Responsibility at the University of Michigan Libby Hemphill joins us for the 7 UpFront segment to talk about it.

You can see the full interview in the video player above.

"We recognize that there are groups on social media who think that they are taking their instructions to protest and to riot directly from the President and, so, silencing him in those channels was an important step for public safety," she says.

"I do think holding public officials accountable for their speech is important and the platforms should apply consistent rules about ... Your not allowed to glorify or incite violence as a regular user and you shouldn't as a public official either," Hemphill says.

"Only recent are [the platforms] acting more responsibly," she says. "I think we didn't take social media as seriously as we should have and we may have read those messages as pandering or exaggerations rather than the real threats that they were and I'm glad to see that platforms are responding proactively as well."

"It's important to remember that the Consitution doesn't govern the platforms, their terms of service do and they suspended the President and QANON conspiracy theorists and other violators of their terms because they broke the rules, namely that they incited and glorified violence and, I think, considering this as a free speech action is not the right framing for thinking about how people should interact with one another online and, instead, thinking about who sets those rules, and right now it's the platforms," Hemphill says. "And if we want someone else to set the rules, or we want different rules, then we need to change the ways that users and platforms interact with one another."