Today's Login is 1,390 words, a 5-minute read.
Today's Login is 1,390 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios
It will take an all-out national effort to dismantle the radicalization pipeline that has planted conspiracy theories in the heads of millions of Americans and inspired last month's attack on the Capitol, experts tell Axios' Kyle Daly.
Two key measures that could make a difference:
Online platforms, meanwhile, must be unwavering in their commitment to root out conspiracy theories and lies that undermine faith in democracy, according to experts interviewed by Axios.
The U.S. needs a "Marshall Plan against domestic extremism," Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies, told Axios.
The latest: Twitter and Facebook continue to step up action aimed at driving extremism and far-right misinformation off their platforms. But the efforts will have to go well beyond the tech platforms.
A key part of breaking extremists' rising mainstream influence will be making it unacceptable for white nationalists, anti-government extremists and conspiracy theorists to serve in the military, in police forces or as lawmakers.
Yes, but: A purely punitive, security-minded approach alone is likely to prove ineffective and invasive at best, experts say. At worst, it will only fuel extremists' sense of persecution and push them closer to violence.
Instead, experts agree serious resources need to be mustered toward providing an offramp for people who have been drawn into extremist ideologies.
A majority of Americans think social media "has played a role in radicalizing people," according to a new poll from Accountable Tech and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner shared exclusively with Axios' Ashley Gold.
The big picture: As misinformation proliferates online about COVID-19, vaccines and politics, social platforms are walking a tightrope between protecting freedom of speech and tamping down the flow of misleading content.
By the numbers: In an online poll of 1,000 registered voters taken Jan. 28–31, 44% of respondents strongly agreed and 41% somewhat agreed with the statement that social media has played a role in radicalizing people.
Recent appearances from Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk on Clubhouse are bringing attention to the venture-backed audio social network, which has also seen a boost in downloads over the past few weeks, Axios' Sara Fischer and Kia Kokalitcheva report.
Yes, but: The app is already beginning to face the same growing pains that other upstart social networks have experienced for years. For example, Clubhouse — which requires an invite to access — is reportedly already being blocked in China.
By the numbers: Clubhouse has been downloaded about 4.7 million times to date since launch, according to Apptopia.
Catch up quick: The app has been available in the App Store since September, after months of quiet testing among tech insiders.
Between the lines: Like any social app, Clubhouse has already raised questions about the culture it engenders. It drew early concerns that it was porting problematic and insular elements of Silicon Valley to a new, initially insider-only platform.
The big picture: A slew of apps centered around audio are booming, as audio messaging becomes a bigger part of social media and work amid the pandemic.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Facebook on Monday became the latest in a run of tech firms and media outlets taking action to stem the tide of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, but experts tell Margaret Harding McGill and Sara Fischer that the scramble to limit such misinformation may prove too little, too late.
Why it matters: "With all of these press releases, what we don't understand is, how is it actually going to be operationalized?" says Claire Wardle, the U.S. director of anti-misinformation nonprofit First Draft. "Anti-vaxxers have historically always figured out where the policy guidelines are and figure out a way around them."
Driving the news: In a partial reversal from its previous position on vaccine misinformation, Facebook said Monday it will take tougher action during the pandemic against claims that vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, are not effective or safe.
Yes, but: These efforts are only coming after anti-vax sentiment has swirled largely unchecked for years on major platforms — and months after public health officials began explaining that vaccines are likely the only way out of the pandemic.
The big picture: While recent polls suggest Americans are growing more receptive to getting vaccinated, exposure to online COVID-19 misinformation makes people demonstrably less willing to do so, according to a peer-reviewed study published Friday in Nature.
Be smart: Months of COVID-specific vaccine misinformation and years of more general falsehoods about vaccination may have already hardened millions of Americans against getting a shot, no matter what online platforms and media outlets do now.
What's next: Advocates want tech platforms to be more accountable for misinformation. Karen Kornbluh of the German Marshall Fund suggested "a code for dealing with dangerous activity online," whether adopted voluntarily or under regulatory pressure.
Don't look at this picture upside down. I mean, do, but then immediately regret doing so.