Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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Biden vows to end social media immunity for ‘spreading hate’

The White House has repeatedly called for the repeal of Section 230, a law protecting online businesses from liability for content posted by users.

US President Joe Biden has urged Americans to speak out against racism and said he will urge Congress to do more to hold social media companies accountable for spreading hate.

“White supremacists will not have the last word,” Biden said Thursday at the United We Stand Summit of local leaders, experts and survivors.

Biden said the United States has long experienced a “continuous line of hatred” against minority groups, which has received “too much oxygen” from politicians and the media in recent years.

The event also recognized communities that have suffered hate-based attacks, including mass shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando in 2016 and at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York earlier this year, where 10 black men were gunned down by an avowed racist.

Hate crimes in the US hit a 12-year high in 2020, the latest available data, the FBI said last year.

Attendees gave Biden a standing ovation as he said he wanted Congress to “hold social media companies accountable for spreading hate.”

“I’m calling on Congress to remove the special immunity for social media companies and place much stricter transparency requirements on all of them,” Biden said.

The White House has repeatedly called for the repeal of Section 230, a law protecting online businesses from liability for content posted by users, and has also called for increased antitrust enforcement and transparency by tech companies.

The White House event comes just weeks after Biden warned in a speech in Philadelphia that “extremist” Republicans pose a threat to democracy.

Biden responded to criticism Thursday that the speech was divisive.

“Silence is complicity, we cannot remain silent,” Biden said. “There are those who say we are bringing this up, we are dividing the country. If we address it, we shut it up.”

Several large tech companies also joined. YouTube said it is expanding its efforts to counter “violent extremism” by removing content that glorifies acts of violence to inspire others to do harm, fundraise or recruit.

Microsoft said it is expanding its use of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to detect credible threats of violence and using games to build empathy.

Earlier this week, the Biden administration also announced $20 million for dozens of organizations working to prevent hateful violence. Recipients included two historically black colleges and universities and two groups serving the LGBTQ community.

“Through the grants we are announcing today, we are equipping local communities and organizations — including those historically underserved — with the resources they need to become more effective partners, strengthen our security, and help the American people stay safe in our everyday lives and feeling safe lives,” Department of Homeland Security minister Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Wednesday.

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