In Brookings piece, Squire argues for expertise, transparency in addressing online extremism

A new article by Professor of Computer Science Megan Squire critiques recent attempts by social media platforms and legislators to address violent extremism online.

In a recent article for The Brookings Institute, Professor of Computer Science Megan Squire argues that social media platforms and legislators need to rely upon a greater level of expertise and transparency in crafting solutions to how violent extremists spread their messages online. 

The article titled "How big tech and policymakers miss the mark when fighting online extremism" was published in the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, earlier this month in which the alleged shooter used the platform 8chan to post a violent manifesto. In the piece, Squire notes that extremists are using a variety of lesser-known online platforms for communicating and spreading propaganda, and have become adept at avoiding efforts to remove their content or narrow their reach. 

That's why efforts now being undertaken by social media platforms and legislators often fail, Squire said. They are reacting to what happened rather than seeking to better understand how online extremists operate and anticipating new efforts at avoidance, she said. 

"'Big Tech' continues to promise increasingly complex AI-based moderation schemes while exhibiting willful blindness about the simple ways in which their services are being abused," Squire writes.

The same goes for legal and legislative responses, Squire argues, detailing efforts in Congress or in federal court dictating how content moderation should be undertaken. "As with the reactive policies implemented by the media companies themselves, this legislation and lawsuit are also naively focused on yesterday's problems," Squire said. "They do not acknowledge the way the platforms are actually being gamed today, nor how they will be abused tomorrow."

Read the entire article here