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After last week’s mob at the Capitol, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit have closed Accounts where People spread false stories of election fraud or planned the attack. Some of the discussions have been about conspiracy theories and possible violence Moved to lesser-known fringe websites and apps including Gab, Telegram and 4chan.
I spoke to my colleague Sheera Frenkel about the risk of driving people off the mainstream internet and what she sees from talking online about possible further violence.
Shira: How are these lesser known networks like Gab or Telegram?
Sheera: Sometimes, like in Telegram groups, it can feel like disorganized family group text with people talking about each other. But the conversations usually got out of hand. There is a lot of profanity.
And while these online forums usually say they are havens for people to express their opinions, there is a lot of intolerance to ideas that go against groupthink. If someone in the comments says something like, “Let’s be open to the possibility of Joe Biden being installed as president,” that person is being verbally assaulted.
Is it counterproductive for mainstream social networks like Facebook to close down groups discussing conspiracy theories or planning violence? Does it make people angry and push them elsewhere online?
It’s complicated. It helps to oust conspirators and extremists from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter fertile soil for her Recruiting mainstream followers. But yes, when people move to fringe websites there are fewer ways to turn them away from extreme beliefs.
People who study extremist movements say that the moment someone starts to believe in a conspiracy theory or terrorist propaganda is the most effective time for someone to step in and have a conversation about it.
If you see your cousin on Facebook asking if dead people voted in the elections, you can chat about it the evidence that these claims are not true. This probably cannot happen when making false claims of electoral fraud on sites where almost everyone else agrees.
What have people been discussing on these lesser known networks since the Capitol attack last week?
The Capitol Breach encouraged the people for what could come next. I have seen Debate in these marginalized groups whether people should try to disrupt the opening process, or – and this is becoming more common – whether they should wait their time. It is important that people understand that there is one Risk of more violence, even if the inauguration continues without incident.
(Also Check out Sheera’s interview on The Daily podcast via the online organization after the Capitol attack. And my New York Times Opinion colleagues have an analysis of people who have changed over time from the mundane Facebook posting to sharing inflammatory views. )
One lesson from ISIS is that combating extremism requires a coherent approach to ISIS both online and real behavior. Tech companies backed by the US government worked together Kick ISIS from the popular social networks. This went hand in hand with initiatives in the Muslim world to deradicalize the people and military measures against ISIS.
Experts say fighting extremists in America can’t just be a social media ban. It takes expertise, funding, and a commitment to reaching people in schools and elsewhere in their community to counter these beliefs.
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Is encryption too dangerous to exist?
Sheera wrote one too items with Jack Nicas and Mike Isaac on the reasons for the recent surge in new people using Telegram and Signal, messaging apps that allow users to communicate in encrypted form. This technology garches the content of messages or phone calls so that no one but the sender and recipient can access them.
Whenever people draw attention to themselves with encrypted technology, it is an opportunity to look at the good and the bad. Lots Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong organized by telegram, partly to avoid official disclosure. But Terrorists and Child abuse Also use encrypted technology to hide their traces.
The dangers made Call for law enforcement agencies For years, tech companies have been creating a way, a so-called back door, to peek into encrypted messages or dig into encrypted iPhones. But security and privacy experts say there is no way good people can access encrypted technology without bad people abusing it.
“Once you create a back door, it is an opportunity for oppressive governments to spy on journalists or pro-democracy activists,” Sheera said. “I use encrypted apps every day to speak to sources.”
Jack previously wrote about the benefits of a chaotic middle ground between encryption absolutists and law enforcement agencies.
This includes law enforcement, which focuses on targeted forms of information gathering, including hacking encryption in individual cases the police often – and Duplication of traditional examination techniques when they cannot access every piece of flotsam.
Some technologists have said that too Make up for the disadvantages of encryptionIt may not be appropriate to use in all circumstances.
Before we go …
Muji, the cat, hid in the ceiling of La Guardia Airport for 11 days before being reunited with her owner. Here is the complicated rescue mission that was Abby the sniffer dog and canned tuna.