How Radicalization Online Can (And Can’t) Be Stopped | WSJ

How Radicalization Online Can (And Can’t) Be Stopped | WSJ

– White supremism, it’s like
one of the rarest things in this country. – [Narrator] It’s happened to Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard
Spencer, the list goes on. All of these individuals were deplatformed or kicked off of different web services after those services deemed
comments they made hateful, a characterization they all deny. – We are experiencing
what we see is a wave of deplatforming right now. Oftentimes, when we talk
about deplatforming, we talk about someone losing
their account on social media, but deplatforming can exist
in many different ways. – [Narrator] Deplatforming
isn’t just limited to individuals. The tactic is also being used
to silence extremist websites. Shortly before he allegedly
murdered 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Patrick Crusius shared his manifesto to an obscure web forum called 8chan. – Website 8chan. That’s where the suspected
gunman in Saturday’s attack– – [Reporter] Posted a four-page
anti-immigrant manifesto. – [Narrator] This wasn’t the first time that an alleged mass shooter had posted a manifesto to 8chan. The individuals who allegedly carried out the Christchurch Mosque Shootings and the Poway Synagogue Shooting also posted their manifestos to 8chan, but this time, the response
to the shooting was different. Cloudflare, an internet
infrastructure company, decided to deplatform or
stop providing its services to 8chan, effectively
shutting down the site, at least for now. – There are about one
million users of 8chan. 8chan is an empty piece
of paper for writing on. – [Narrator] In response to the takedown, 8chan’s owner, Jim Watkins,
posted this video to YouTube. – It is clearly a political move to remove 8chan from Cloudflare. It has forced a lot of people
to find other places to talk. (keyboard clacking) – [Narrator] Today, deplatforming
is the most popular tactic to deal with extremist content online, but does it actually work? – It’s not necessarily going
to create a causal chain where we get rid of hate
online, but what it does do is it disrupts this community of people that have been building
over the last five years a culture of harm and
harassment and incitement. – [Narrator] According
to Professor Donovan, deplatforming might slow the growth and the impact of these websites, but it can’t wipe their
ideology away entirely. The individuals who carry out such attacks are not the lone wolves the media often portray
them as, Donovan says, noting that their manifestos
suggest they are part of a growing and global
white supremacist movement. – When we say that they’re lone wolves, what we’re pointing to is that
these are disaffected people who live in isolation and
are coming out of nowhere to conduct this violence. Instead, the research
is actually pointing to that these people are never alone, that they reach out online,
they have a lot of questions. Mostly they look into
white supremacist theories of how political parties
and media are colluding to keep white people down. (traffic humming) – [Narrator] It wasn’t that
long ago that Scott Ernest believed in that white
nationalist narrative. – I got involved by accident. (pensive mallet percussion music) It was 2004, and I was just
searching the internet. I’m not even sure what I
was doing, just surfing, and I came across a blog. – [Narrator] Like many young extremists, Ernest was radicalized online. – Eventually, it did
become a community thing. You get in there and
you meet these people, and I mean, even if you don’t
necessarily like all of them, you know, you start
feeling connected to them. – [Narrator] He eventually
became a moderator on Stormfront, a popular
white nationalist website. – [Scott] It’s for all white nationalists, so you could be a moderate,
you could be extreme, you could be KKK, you could
be NSM, national socialist. – [Narrator] He said he
began to distance himself from the movement as
it became more violent. – You know, a lot of the movement actually believe in the mass shootings. – [Narrator] In an email
to the Wall Street Journal, Stormfront’s founder, Don Black, said, “We have always clearly
stated that we do not tolerate “any posts even suggesting
illegal violence. “Any such posts are immediately
deleted by moderators “and the user banned.” – The first time I ever questioned
why I was in the movement was when Anders Breivik shot
a bunch of kids in Norway. That caught my eye because, at
some point previous to that, Anders Breivik had actually
been on my Facebook friend list under the name of Andrew Berwick. – [Narrator] Breivik, who
murdered 77 people in 2011, has since become an icon of
sorts for white nationalists. On sites like 8chan, users have celebrated his kill count for years
and done so legally. That’s because vile or not,
the racist and violent speech often found on sites
like 8chan is protected under the First Amendment. – There’s much discussion
about social media, its implications, the harms done, and the question is posed, what should government
do about social media? – [Narrator] Civil
libertarians like John Samples are skeptical of any government reforms, arguing that regulation of speech will backfire and be abused. – We have very strong protections, and that’s going to mean that there’s not much government can do. – [Narrator] But that hasn’t
damped calls for reform. For her part, Professor
Donovan would like to see legislation regulating the amplification of hate speech online. (pensive mallet percussion music) – Individuals who own websites are allowed to decide what stays and what goes. That is non-controversial, but when we run into the problem of scale, when that speech scales so that it is comparable to broadcast, when you have 50, 60,000 people that are looking at particular
posts or videos online that contain racist speech, hate speech, harassment, incitement,
then we have to come up with a schema related to amplification like we did with broadcast radio, like we’ve done with television that sets a different set of rules. – [Narrator] For decades now,
radio and television stations have had to follow
regulations meant to ensure they serve the public interest
based in part on their reach. Although the internet is different, Donovan says it’s clear our current laws have not kept up with our
technological advancements and that perhaps we should
consider a new framework. – You can say that kind of any regulation around what someone says
online is protected, but I think that that’s
clearly not right today. – [Narrator] A third way
forward is already in the works. Zuckerberg announced
that Facebook is creating an independent body that will
review controversial content. – You know, it’s not clear to me that we want a private
company to be making that kind of a fundamental
decision about, you know, what is political speech and
how should that be regulated. – [Narrator] In a blog post addressing the El Paso shooter’s manifesto, the chief executive of the web
services company Cloudflare wrote that 8chan’s
lawlessness had contributed to multiple horrific
tragedies, and as a result, Cloudflare would no longer
be supporting the site, but Cloudflare’s post also highlighted how some web service companies
are being thrust relunctantly into the role of policing speech. Cloudflare wrote, “We continue to feel
incredibly uncomfortable “about playing the role of content arbiter “and we do not plan to exercise it often.” (pensive and dramatic orchestral music)

65 thoughts on “How Radicalization Online Can (And Can’t) Be Stopped | WSJ

  1. lol People aren't getting radicalized on the internet. They're already radicalized by real life before they go on these sites. Diversity + Proximity = Conflict. Period.

  2. Islam online*
    The Koran and the Ahadith are full of hate against Christian and Jews :/

  3. Allegedly murdered 22 people at Walmart? I know the Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp but he's admitted he did it, so you don't have to say allegedly.

  4. As a radicalized individual, I'd say it's primarily the left and it's behavior (anti male, anti white, protecting everything else from the slightest criticism even when deserved, deplatforming, terrorism against livelihood and even physical well-being, violence) that made me what I am. When discussion dies, violence becomes the only solution.

  5. White Supremacy is the new media boogeyman meant to distract people from the elites running everything into the ground. Divide & Conquer.

  6. Deplatforming radicalizes people. Also, WSJ is fake news. The El Paso guy posted his screed to Instagram first.

  7. 8 chan wasn't even where the manifesto was posted, that was Instagram. 8 chan just reposted to report news, lefties went insane and destroyed stuff as usual, and thereby radicalized more people who fear what comes with increased censorship and the inability to talk problems out rather than fight them out.

  8. I disagree with the solution they're taking, I oppose with all my force these ideas but banning them will only make them stronger, we should instead try to win them over to our side with empathy and logic

  9. I don't understand the urge to censor. When I was younger, Jerry Falwell and those types censored people they didn't like. They were self-righteous, authoritarian zealots. Anything they didn't like, they labeled it as "pornographic" or "degenerate". Nowadays, the censorious, authoritarian zealots are the "woke" Leftists, who label anything they don't like as "racist" or "hate". It is NO different. I like freedom. If you don't like what someone is saying on YouTube or Twitter, then don't watch their videos or read their tweets. Or, better yet, just block them from your feed! So easy!!! Stop trying to control who or what I want to watch or read, whether that is a porn video or an Alex Jones video.

  10. It's now happening in India too.lots of guys radicalised through social medias and sites because everyone can now access internet and the data rate is very cheap in India , you will get a whole month data (45 gb) at just 2 dollars. Hatred speeches and fake news against minorities spread through online and that is another reason why modi reelected as our pm.

  11. Hate is never the solution and celebrating the murder of innocent Americans is unforgivable but stripping people like Alex Jones from the platform is not going to make things better.

  12. Attacking moronic individuals as opposed to uncovering rampant institutional corruption in tech and media. How drôle…

  13. it just pushes the ideology further underground if you keep deplatformong. it also creates more sympathies towards heinous ideologies, as people feel that if they come for the Commies, WNs, Black Israeliteism, Feminists etc, soon they will deplatform me and come for my Free Speech, thus we must Ally with whoever we can to protect this sacred right.

  14. Don't use the name of these monsters. In doing so, the WSJ is giving them exactly what they want: fame and influence.

  15. we need to round up all these incels. it's time to implement stop and frisk and start treating them like we treat minorities.

  16. I am happy our public constantly questions our government, big companies to keep them in check and our democracy free. If we didnt we would become like china now.

  17. Whites never want to accept blame for their f*ckups. Black men have the worst economic and social experience in this country yet we're not mass-shooting up a mall, school, synagogue, or concert every weekend. STOP BLAMING THE INTERNET and start blaming the POS parents of these alt-righters.

  18. Joe Rogan + Alex Jones was crazy on YT and it didn't even trend on YT. As long as you are on the left you are fine with the Silicon Valley tech

  19. Whoever ordered the termination of 8Chan website is a BIG idiot and had done the most idiotic thing ever , they should've put it under surveillance to the FBI and track who ever posts a similar manafesto like that

  20. Remember folks, it's Alex "They're Turning the Friggin' Frogs Gay" Jones, Milo "Dangerous F*ggot" Yiannopolous, and PewDie "Let's Talk about Memes and Minecraft" Pie radicalizing people, NOT a constant drumbeat of "Conservatives/Republicans/White people are Nazis and/or Fascists, let's punch Nazis, white Supremacy is everywhere and white people are terrorists, the police are hunting down and killing people and masculinity is toxic".

    Couldn't be any of that.

  21. No person, no company, and no government can be trusted with content filtering. Its not simply a matter of size, algorithmic filtering isn't adequate merely because it has trouble with false positives, but because the bias that built it inevitably tilts the narrative. The power to tilt the narrative will draw every bad actor wanting such control. Nothing is without bias of some sort, that's why free speech is so vital: ideas must interact for the superior ideas to survive. Silencing ideas broods only resentment and will cause those who hold them to fester. The day you condone ideological censorship is the day you bow the knee to totalitarianism. It matters not who currently wields the authority, by setting the structure up with the capacity to dictate ideas, it will eventually be filled with the dictator who slaughters millions doing what they think is good. It's only a matter of time till your ideas end up on someone's list of condemned thoughts. To be free, we must tolerate others opinions and only punish actions.

  22. This is like saying that I am fat because so many people post pictures of their food online. So we should ban the food posts and no one will be fat anymore. 😅 So my freedom of speech should be regulated become some idiots post crazy things. Who can decide what we remove and what we don’t? There is a very thin line there. How about the police dose it’s job and use this opportunity to keep an eye on them.

  23. I much prefer the rare violent individual in comparison to curtailing free speech for entire populations.

    The idea that the reach, or accessibility of one's speech should reduce its protections from the government is absurd, and whatever delimiter they would use for categorizing it would be arbitrary.

    Not to mention that limiting speech is prone for abuse.

    Silencing opinions does not prove they are wrong, but only that one does not want them to be heard. And many, perhaps all, humans have a lust for what we are told we cannot have. Blacklisting certain speech, or ideas will increase the demand for them.

    A better approach would be to promote speech and ideas that explain why the opposing ideas are incorrect, or why there are superior aleternatives.

  24. man you people are acting like 8chan was a forum exclusively for racism and white natioanlists, its like banning all of reddit because one forum supports white supremacy

  25. This is literally an attack on free speech and a justification for so. Free speech is important even if you disagree with the message, no matter how disgusting the speech is

  26. Free speech should not protect speech that promotes a closed society and culture.

    Free speech is about speech that have an end of an open society and culture. How to get to a better open society is proper free speech, and ought to be protected.

    White supremacy is clearly a ideology that promotes a closed society.

  27. White supremacy is a disease on the mind. They are not happy for euro-american establishment ruling the world with soft power. They would like the good old hard power back immediately. Therefore they would make reverse siege mentality behalf of their governments. Thanks to white supremacy colonialists imperialism my farm in southern somalia gets bombed everyweek by usa pentagon. Killing my livestock and horses. The agenda is fighting islamic fighters but they should really concentrate on their own problems.

  28. Why does a small country like Norway produces so many mass shooters? I guess its because they are so insignificant that their people look for pride in being white, but there are barely any foreigners in that country anyway. Bizarre.

  29. this all lead to some kind of war,too much hate. trump was never a racist before he become a president,he is just a smart,successful piece of sh…t,but he loves america,unlike squad and many of democrats

  30. Sad that they speculate on nationalism and make it look like something horrible and scary, mixing it with terrific acts of just sick bastards

  31. I'm pretty sure harassment and incitement are already illegal under the prevailing First Amendment jurisprudence.
    As for "racist speech" and "hate speech", those are ideas. Regulation of ideas runs against a liberal state's obligation to content neutrality — an obligation that is critical to the exercise of the freedom of expression.
    The state's job is to prevent people from actually, objectively harming one another. Having it determine what ideas citizens are allowed to hear or read is not only not the state's domain, it is a violation of individual liberty. Which ideas get platformed and amplified should be determined by the aggregate individual exercise of free expression and association, not by government diktat.
    Also, good luck codifying concepts like "racist speech" and "hate speech" into clear, consistent, and coherent criteria. Or, for that matter, "public interest" — even the FCC has been unable to define it in concrete terms, leaving it to be hand-waved through in practice for nearly a century.

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