As we approach the midterm elections, it remains painfully clear that social media companies are still failing to protect candidates, voters, and elected officials from disinformation, misogyny, racism, transphobia, and violence. After the 2020 presidential election, Trump backers and MAGA Republicans attacked the United States Capitol in the hopes of undermining the democratic process and stopping electoral vote certification. Before the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, social media platforms like Twitter and Meta knew that white supremacist misogynists were using their platforms to organize violent actions, spread false information claiming Trump had won, and threaten election workers, mostly Black women in places like Georgia. Yet social media companies did little to protect us.
In fact, according to The New York Times, the phrase "Storm the Capitol" was used 100,000 times on social media platforms in the month preceding the attack. Facebook groups had 650,000 posts questioning the validity of the election between Election Day and the January 6 insurrection, including many posts that called for executions and other violence. Most of this violence, both online and at the Capitol, was driven by racist, misogynistic men, and many of them had records of domestic violence or sexual harassment and assault. Similarly, insurrectionists made numerous threats on social media against women leaders in Congress, including threatening to kill Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. These threats were in addition to the regular threats and harassment endured by women of color congressional leaders: A study by ISD Global of 2020 candidates found that women of color candidates receive more abusive messages on social media, with Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting the most.
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