Opening Statement at Hearing on Social Media's Role in Radicalizing America
The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a remote hearing on Thursday, September 24, 2020. The hearing is entitled, “Mainstreaming Extremism: Social Media’s Role in Radicalizing America.”
Social media platforms are key vectors for radicalization and mobilization for all forms of extremism. With several high-profile extremist attacks exposing gaps in content moderation policies and enforcement, this hearing examined what responsibilities and duties the social media corporations have and should be exercising. The ability of social media platforms to connect like-minded, but geographically distant people is a key factor in radicalization. Otherwise socially isolated individuals turn to social media for connection with others and, through algorithm-driven recommendations, find an outlet for their grievances in hate-filled, violent material and camaraderie with those who post that material. Over 70 percent of extremists used social media platforms to consume content, engage in extremist dialogues, spread extremist propaganda, and communicate with other extremists from 2011 to 2016. Evidence also suggests that social media has contributed to the acceleration of radicalization of extremists in the United States.