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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Social Media and January 6

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.   Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.  

 From a draft staff report that the January 6 Committee decided not to publish:

  • Extremist users on various platforms took their cues directly from President Trump, particularly after his December 19th tweet. The Select Committee has gathered evidence to show that far-right forums such as, Parler, and 8kun were telegraphing their plans for violence following President Trump’s December 19th tweet that pushed January 6th as a critical day in the Stop the Steal movement. However, this phenomenon was not confined to extremist platforms; on places like Twitter, Facebook, and Discord, supporters of President Trump closely tracked his claims about a stolen election and subsequently his calls to descend on D.C. to protest the Joint Session of Congress on January 6th, 2021.
  • Trump’s December 19th tweet was a transformative moment across social media. In addition to causing a shift towards more explicit targeting of D.C. on a singular date on Twitter, the President’s “be there, will be wild” tweet caused major shifts in other platforms. The Select Committee has collected evidence to show that Discord shut down a server, DonaldsArmy.US, just hours after the tweet, because it immediately became a hub for users of to organize and coordinate their travel to D.C. and strategize how they could bring firearms into the city in response to the President’s call. Smaller platforms did not react quickly enough to the threat posed by an organized far-right extremist movement centered around President Trump. Aside from Facebook and Twitter, other social media companies did not move quickly enough to interrupt networks of extremists who threatened American democracy. The most damaging example is likely Reddit’s belated takedown of r/The_Donald; by waiting a year to remove the subreddit from its site, Reddit allowed moderators to freely advertise, an alternate forum that hosted violent content prior to January 6th.
  • Less developed social media platforms were forced to make entirely new content moderation policies to respond to President Trump’s incitement. In several cases, platforms such as Twitch and Discord altered their policies on incitement or shifted resources to focus on domestic extremist violence to position themselves to better respond to another situation like January 6th—or another leader like Donald Trump. In the case of Twitch, their new policy on incitement was a direct response to President Trump.