Professor of Computer Science Megan Squire, who researches online extremism, was quoted in a recent article by The Wall Street Journal about the role social media played in violence and rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In the wake of violence, rioting and a historic breach of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, law enforcement and researchers are combing through social media to better understand what happened.
The Wall Street Journal included Professor of Computer Science Megan Squire in an article discussing social media’s role in helping extremist groups organize in the nation’s capital on the day Congress convened to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
In the article, “‘Trump or War’: How the Capitol Mob Mobilized on Social Media,” The Wall Street Journal explains the ways in which groups organized online leading up to the Jan. 6 riots. The article explains that some groups organized on mainstream social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, while others turned to more niche sites with fewer rules and restrictions. For her part Squire discussed the widespread nature of the online organizing and a lack of coordination among the groups that gathered in Washington, D.C.
“It was a bit of a mess,” said Squire, whose research focuses on online extremism. “There were so many groups, it was broken out across numerous platforms, and fewer people were claiming to be in charge.”
The article goes on to discuss attempts by mainstream social media sites to ban extremist groups from their platforms and the dangers of niche sites that allow these groups to freely spread hate and conspiracies online. For the full report and more insights from Squire, read the entire Wall Street Journal article here.