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What role did social media play in the assault on Capitol Hill?

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 5:32 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - “Condone rather than condemn”-that’s what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said President Donald Trump used his social media platform to do yesterday regarding the assault on Capitol Hill.

As a result, Zuckerberg extended a block on the President’s Instagram and Facebook accounts for at least two weeks.

“Social media posts for the last two months have propounded the lie that the election was stolen from him,” said UK Journalism professor and political columnist Al Cross. Supporters of President Trump gathered in D.C. to protest the ceremony that would confirm President-Elect Joe Biden’s win.

Cross said yesterday’s events were brought on by disinformation.

“Disinformation is worse than misinformation. Disinformation is purposeful misinformation,” Cross said.

He says in the age of social media, misinformation has always existed, but fact checks are needed now more than ever.

“Once you have the person with the biggest megaphone in the world, the presidency of the United States, being the chief generator or transmitter of misinformation, then it’s going to increase exponentially,” Cross said.

Before the election, platforms like Twitter started labeling tweets that contained inaccurate information. During the height of the violence, Trump’s posts online were quickly disputed by platforms.

Following a taped message to the individuals at the Capitol, POTUS’ Twitter and Facebook accounts were suspended.

Some critics said the action is too little and too late.

“They’ve been really reluctant to because they do not want to be seen as editors of publications,” Cross said.

Cross predicts Congress will take action in the coming years, but until then, he said it is up to the American people to carefully decide where they get their information.

“Social media has no discipline and no verification,” Cross said.

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