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Nevilledog

(51,031 posts)
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 02:53 PM Feb 2021

Deplatforming the Far-Right Could Accelerate an Extremist Underground



Tweet text:
Jared Holt
@jaredlholt
“If the only collective answer to web-fueled extremism is to sweep it into the internet’s gutters, and deeper systemic issues are neglected, the far-right’s most dangerous elements will likely accelerate.“

An op-ed on the need for holistic approaches:

Deplatforming the Far-Right Could Accelerate an Extremist Underground
Deplatforming the far-right like Alex Jones isn’t a one-step solution, and often treats symptoms of radicalization rather than its causes.
paradoxpolitics.com
9:35 AM · Feb 10, 2021


https://paradoxpolitics.com/2021/02/deplatforming-far-right-like-alex-jones-could-accelerate-an-extremist-underground/

The short-term benefits of deplatforming far-right actors and extremist content presents a paradox in long-term consequences. If the only collective answer to web-fueled extremism is to sweep it into the internet’s gutters, and deeper systemic issues are neglected, the far-right’s most dangerous elements will likely accelerate.

Removing voices on social media who peddle disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extremist rhetoric can drastically reduce those voices’ prominence in national political discourse. It’s something large platforms can do quickly, and the move is usually a positive one in terms of protecting a free and open society. In some cases, this kind of action even thwarts attempts by foreign governments to exploit polarizing issues on social media in hopes of destabilizing the United States; as was the case when Facebook last year removed two networks of fake accounts linked to Iran and Russia. By removing bad actors as they flail on stage, healthy dialogue is fostered and the Democratic tradition strengthened.

However, these toxic voices—and their corresponding communities of support—don’t often disappear altogether after a banning. Instead, they migrate to platforms often smaller and less moderated. Dozens of social media platforms promising little-to-no “censorship” have existed for years on standby, ready to welcome these digital nomads in search of places to unleash their toxic beliefs and false claims. Several such platforms have explicitly advertised themselves to the far-right.

In my work as a professional researcher and reporter focused on political extremism and the internet, I often slide into the virtual shoes of an extremist-internet power user, consuming content at a rate that would put even the most dedicated fan to shame. My work does not stop after de-platforming occurs. Repeatedly, it becomes more concerning.

Some of the earliest adopters of these smaller, free-for-all platforms were extremists banned from mainstream social media in the wake of Unite the Right, the 2017 white supremacist gathering that wreaked havoc in Charlottesville, Virginia, and left Heather Heyer murdered in the street at the hands of a neo-Nazi. Then it was Proud Boys. Then it was QAnon believers. Then it was unlawful militia movement organizations. Then it was election conspiracy theorists. And so on.

*snip*




20 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Deplatforming the Far-Right Could Accelerate an Extremist Underground (Original Post) Nevilledog Feb 2021 OP
Underground to hell WA-03 Democrat Feb 2021 #1
Trump proved that a BIG platform is the way to be truly dangerous. Laelth Feb 2021 #2
They can be a fringe group Johnny2X2X Feb 2021 #4
They are already 'underground'. It's not like they were anywhere else. They have been SWBTATTReg Feb 2021 #3
Notice how much calmer things have been since Donny Dumbfuck was depatformed? SoonerPride Feb 2021 #5
Better an extremist underground than an extremist overground. Midnight Writer Feb 2021 #6
"Deplatforming" at least reduces their reach to the susceptible BumRushDaShow Feb 2021 #7
They went old school back to HAM and CB. Runningdawg Feb 2021 #8
The free market is moving them from WeAreProudNazis.com back to the gutters dalton99a Feb 2021 #9
I object to the phrase "deeper systemic issues" Cartoonist Feb 2021 #10
Valid points and evidences one of the biggest negatives Still Sensible Feb 2021 #11
You know what I hope we're risking? Mr.Bill Feb 2021 #12
you can only deal with the reality you have today. they are toxic and that needs shutting down. bullimiami Feb 2021 #13
Recommended. H2O Man Feb 2021 #14
Isn't that what the 17+ Intel agencies are for? leftstreet Feb 2021 #15
They will be splintered. LiberalFighter Feb 2021 #16
As long as the FBI and others are monitoring it. We need the Hortensis Feb 2021 #17
FBI probably could have stopped them with the current laws n/t leftstreet Feb 2021 #18
Perhaps, but no expert believes current laws are anything but Hortensis Feb 2021 #19
I agree with most replies so far - driving it underground cuts it off from most potential fuel muriel_volestrangler Feb 2021 #20

WA-03 Democrat

(3,037 posts)
1. Underground to hell
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:05 PM
Feb 2021

Drive them down deep. Make persecuting white supremacists a top priority at DoJ. They are the top terrorist organization we face.
Make it something you don’t expect to see
This is not free speech
We should carefully study how Germany deals with the Original Nazis post war. It’s not allowed because it is dangerous.
Should you have the right to believe the Holocaust didn’t exist. No because it did and millions died. Never again. We see the effects amplified by these media platforms (FB, YouTube, etc.) with no responsibility.

I am not for letting them exist. They screamed fire in the theater and committed sedition on the cradle of Democracy. Crush them.

Laelth

(32,017 posts)
2. Trump proved that a BIG platform is the way to be truly dangerous.
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:10 PM
Feb 2021

I think that this author is fundamentally wrong. I’d rather see the die-hard extremists, rebels, seditionists, and conspiracy theorists de-platformed. That will make them far less dangerous, imo.

I note that government can’t de-platform anyone. Doing so would violate the First Amendment, but private companies (Facebook and Twitter, for example) are free to de-platform anyone they want for any reason whatsoever, and I think that they would be doing the nation a public service if they banned all speech about or concerning the theories of Q-anon.

One study showed that disinformation on the internet dropped dramatically the day after Trump’s Twitter account was closed. De-platforming works.

-Laelth

Johnny2X2X

(18,973 posts)
4. They can be a fringe group
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:17 PM
Feb 2021

But Trump being kicked off Twitter makes their group significantly smaller.

SWBTATTReg

(22,077 posts)
3. They are already 'underground'. It's not like they were anywhere else. They have been
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:12 PM
Feb 2021

scumbags from day 1, whether they were in their Mommy and Daddy's basement hiding or are now out in the open, where their fascist leader encouraged them to come out and play, and run over Congress to prevent Congress from doing its duty, when it certified the electoral votes cast by the states.

SoonerPride

(12,286 posts)
5. Notice how much calmer things have been since Donny Dumbfuck was depatformed?
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:18 PM
Feb 2021

I do.

He used his vast reach to throw gasoline on every smoldering ember out there.

From the birther lie to January 6th and every day in between.

Making it underground will greatly diminish their growth and reach.

Midnight Writer

(21,719 posts)
6. Better an extremist underground than an extremist overground.
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:24 PM
Feb 2021

The option to deplatforming is to give them a platform.

A platform for racism, lies, insurrection, hatred.

I choose the deplatforming.

Better to have them collapse into their extremist cells than to spread it and create new adherents.

BumRushDaShow

(128,527 posts)
7. "Deplatforming" at least reduces their reach to the susceptible
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:25 PM
Feb 2021

because inevitably, their "base" is too lazy to go look for them and those who are the most dedicated who find them, are probably a "relatively" small portion of the whole. This doesn't mean those who do manage to find each other on the dark web are "less dangerous" (they would be moreso), but it reduces the number of "casual" joiners of the brainwashed mobs.

Runningdawg

(4,514 posts)
8. They went old school back to HAM and CB.
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:26 PM
Feb 2021

Never forget the OKC bombing in '95 and WTC in 2001 were planned and carried out WITHOUT the internet. Just because you don't see them online does not mean they aren't working on the next one.

Cartoonist

(7,309 posts)
10. I object to the phrase "deeper systemic issues"
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:48 PM
Feb 2021

The only issue they have is racism. I'm going to neglect them.

Still Sensible

(2,870 posts)
11. Valid points and evidences one of the biggest negatives
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:54 PM
Feb 2021

that the Internet has wrought.

These used to be fringe groups. When I was a kid 50 or so years ago, I was aware of shadowy KKK around and the John Birchers, etc.. There were also conspiracy nuts and, in fact, one of them was a college professor I had. These conspiracy theorists of that time railed against the Bilderbergers and the Council on Foreign Relations, claiming it was all about destroying America in favor of a "one world government." Of course, in the late 60s and early seventies, there was a very small segment that were active in these groups, held together through meetings and largely underground tracts. There was obviously a large proportion of the white population that, while they may not have been active in these movements, they clearly were sympathetic to the racism--read white nationalism--that underscored the groups' world views. The abortion fight that has evolved since that time brought the already sympathetic evangelical movement allied solidly on the side of this racist fringe.

The explosion of the Internet has provided a mechanism for the fringe to recruit, cross pollinate and somewhat unify around a shared hatred for "others," and "liberals." Unfortunately, the emergence of tRump and his catering to those growing groups had brought the deplorables into the main stream. Even if these deplorables make up half or less of what is currently the GOP electorate, most of the other repugs go along with them for three reasons: Under tRump they have been able to achieve or at least make progress toward some long standing GOP goals; Despite their public denials, the right remains sympathetic to the white nationalism and the systemic discrimination against all "others."; and finally, they hate "the libs" and even center-left progressivism almost as much as the deplorables do.

I'm not sure it matters greatly if these formerly-fringe-but-now-mainstream-right-wingers get pushed underground because the same internet (and even the dark web) that has fueled their growth provides the mechanisms to keep track of them.

But just as it was many decades ago when these deplorables were a small lunatic fringe, we must deal with the right's sympathies with the racist white nationalists and continue to weed out the systemic policies that accelerated under 45. But now these forces are larger and better organized... with more friends in high places.

bullimiami

(13,076 posts)
13. you can only deal with the reality you have today. they are toxic and that needs shutting down.
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:57 PM
Feb 2021

of course the worst of them will go on to another form of communication.
deal with that as it develops.

my "research" tells me that extremism is not the fault of those fighting it.

leftstreet

(36,101 posts)
15. Isn't that what the 17+ Intel agencies are for?
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 03:59 PM
Feb 2021

If you so much as spell out an unapproved word on most media forums, agent mike makes a phone call

So...what happened?

LiberalFighter

(50,795 posts)
16. They will be splintered.
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 04:02 PM
Feb 2021

It won't be shared as widely. And when they do share outside their groups will make themselves a target by law enforcement.

Hortensis

(58,785 posts)
17. As long as the FBI and others are monitoring it. We need the
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 04:02 PM
Feb 2021

strengthened anti- domestic terrorism laws that are undoubtedly being written right now and will allow the degree and types of surveillance, and charges and sentencing, required to maintain public safety. For obvious reasons, the Republicans blocked this when they controlled what came out of congress.

And OF COURSE this is not our only action. The Democratic Party has always been committed to betterment of all society, and we see that in the platform that can now be acted on under the Biden administration.

Hortensis

(58,785 posts)
19. Perhaps, but no expert believes current laws are anything but
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 04:10 PM
Feb 2021

inadequate to the point of being obstructive. As I said, I do not believe that was a coincidence.

I also believe the Republican leadership's obstruction of even the most sensible control of weapons on the street, even military grade weaponry, overwhelmingly supported by their own voters, was no coincidence. Arming RW extremists and fostering violent civil unrest, and the fear that causes people to call for authoritarian response, are basic fascistic tactics right out of Fascism 101 and Authoritarian Takeovers for Dummies.

muriel_volestrangler

(101,271 posts)
20. I agree with most replies so far - driving it underground cuts it off from most potential fuel
Wed Feb 10, 2021, 04:10 PM
Feb 2021

The author does seem to concede this at the end:

There is little doubt as to deplatforming’s efficacy in reducing potential harms to the general public posed by bad actors. But the action isn’t a one step solution to the broader drivers of extremism online, and ultimately treats symptoms of radicalization rather than its causes.

Yeah, but its causes are American society (and, in other countries, their society) when the extremists were growing up. We just can't change these people's basic fundamental bigotry or hatred. They picked it up before they were 20. No, deplatforming isn't a "one step solution", but it helps a lot. And I don't think it "accelerates" extremism; it's just that a long term change in attitudes of a lot of people is needed too.
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