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

President Biden on Thursday called for accountability on social media platforms for their role in fueling violence as the White House hosted a summit aimed at addressing 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 President Trump’s response to the ‘era.

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

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

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

The White House announced earlier Thursday that YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft and Meta have rolled out updates aimed at countering violent extremism online.

YouTube will expand its rules by removing content advocating violent acts to incite others to harm, even if the creator of that content is not affiliated with a designated terrorist group.

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

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, 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 the tools that help communities counter it.

Biden spoke at the “United We Stand” summit, a rally convened by White House officials specifically to focus on an upsurge in hate-motivated attacks against religious and minority groups. It 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 Democratic and Republican administrations to foster dialogue in communities across the country.

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

“We are facing right now, in my opinion, an inflection point, one of those moments that determines the shape of everything that is to come,” Biden said. “We must choose to be a nation of hope, unity and optimism or a nation of fear, division and hatred. We choose. As we do, we know this: Violence fueled by hate is born in the fertile soil of toxic division.

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


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