YouTube, Meta to Expand policies, Research to Fight Online Extremism

Major tech companies including YouTube and Meta said they will take new steps to combat online extremism by removing more violent content and promoting media literacy among young users, Reuters reported.

The new commitment from the mega-platforms came as part of a White House summit on fighting hate-fueled violence.

Social media platforms like YouTube and Meta’s Facebook have come under fire for years for allowing hate speech, lies and violent rhetoric to flourish on their sites.

The White House summit “United We Stand” focused on combatting racism and extremism, and gathered experts and survivors and included bipartisan local leaders. 

At the summit, U.S. President Joe Biden called on Americans to combat racism and extremism. 

He also said he would ask Congress to do more to hold social media companies accountable for spreading hate.

YouTube said it will expand its policies on violent extremism to remove content that glorifies violent acts, even if the creators of the videos are not related to a terrorist organization.

YouTube currently already prohibits violent incitement, but in some cases these existing policies have not been applied to videos that promote militia groups. This was called into question after the Jan. 6 violent insurrection on the Capitol, after videos were found to promote these far-right extremist groups. 

A report in May 2022 found 435 pro-militia videos on YouTube, including 85 posted since the Jan. 6 attack. Some of the videos gave training advice, like how to carry out guerilla-style ambushes.

Facebook owner Meta announced it will partner with researchers from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism.

Meta has been under fire a lot over the past year, including for whether it shares responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack. 

Both Alphabet and Facebook’s chief executives, as well as Twitter’s, were grilled by lawmakers last year on whether their companies bore some responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack.

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