The invasion (a fitting, if not strong, term for the maniacal antics displayed) of the USA’s Capitol building on the 6th of January, 2021 is an unprecedented event in the country’s history. An entire rally of Trump supporters, otherwise known as racists, white supremacists, gun-toting narcissists and generally all-around awful individuals, stormed the building while the electoral votes were being counted in an attempt to prevent Joe Biden from taking presidency and maintaining the status quo. A crazy day of events led to 5 deaths, one of which was a police officer.
The day was followed by heavy backlash from government officials and the general populace alike. Arrests occurred, a US lawmaker was fired from his job, and eventually people starting digging to find the source of all of this. Naturally, Facebook got involved in the conversation. The social media app’s been a constant magnet for controversy in recent days, and allegations have been laid that a lot of the storm’s preparations occurred on the platform.
In a livestream interview, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg has defended her company’s unintentional involvement in the incident, citing multiple examples of how pro-Trump groups such as Q Anon and the Proud Boys have been shut down again and again on the network. Donald Trump’s own account was also banned from the platform, until further notice (which is a move that every other platform i.e. Twitter, Shopify, and Twitch has made as well).
It is undeniable, however, that sources of dissent and socio-political tension have continued to exist on the platform despite the efforts of moderators and developers. Despite Sandberg’s comments about Facebook not being responsible for the large-scale planning of these attacks, shifting the blame onto other apps instead, there are examples of irresponsibility rife on the app. CNBC reported that the Black Conservatives Fund’s group was actively attempting to rally its 80,000 followers into marching towards the Capitol. Such activity was dated to January 5th, a day before the attack.
Sheryl Sandberg did, however, claim that Facebook could have done better. Her following comments, however, express that herding such a massive community online is more or less impossible. This in and of itself evokes frustration, as the higher-ups refuse to take responsibility for result of their inaction. Facebook may not have driven revolts to the door of the Capitol building itself, but its casual attitude towards the role it’s been handed over as the platform of over a billion individuals is disheartening.
This post was written by Arooj Ahmed and was first posted to Digital Information World
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