In recent years, along with the development of society, information technology in general, the Internet and social media sites in particular have been greatly affecting all aspects of social life and human activities.
In fact, the internet and social media sites bring users a lot of benefits thanks to the fast speed of information, rich content, of course, if used correctly. Besides the positive sides, social media also bring many harms and consequences for each individual as well as the community.
In this blog, I will take the United States Capitol attack in 6th January as an example for the backward of social media.
THE RIOT AT U.S CONGRESS
The 46th US presidential election has become the focus of international public opinion, the whole world holds its breath waiting for Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, an event that makes the whole world surprised. it was the scene where the United States fell into a tense atmosphere because of a large-scale rally in support of President Donald Trump.
On 6th January 2021, the US Congress was attacked by a large number of rebels, who most of them are Trump’s supporters. The consequence of this rebellion is 5 deaths and many injuries to police officers. An event that took place that day was the day that Joe Biden was announced as the next president of the United States. From the outside we can see that this riot originates from supporters of the Trumps, as well as a few reactionary organizations. But there is another factor that also contributes significantly to this incident, which is social media. So how does social media affect this attack?
The Echo Chamber Effect
I have an article about Echo Chamber and Filter Bubbles, you can read it here to know more about the concept: “Information manipulation: Filter bubble and Echo chamber”.
In the US Presidential election, it seems that all candidates use social networks to act as a bridge with the people to call for votes. The call of the incumbent US President before the event on January 6 is said to be an indirect impact on the protests of the people. Some of the posts on Facebook, Twitter… of this President are very supportive of the people who love him. However, this has turned out to be a flip side, as some protesters have taken radical action to attack the Capitol, turning a mere demonstration into a riot.
Meanwhile, participants used social networks to livestream, share photos, and call on people from all over the world to support Donald Trump. Peaceful protests have been incited by some elements, leading to violence that directly endangers the political stability of the United States. When protests occurred, US President Donald Trump called for peace and asked protesters to go home, not causing attacks on the Capitol building. However, the damage left from the protest was huge.
As we all know, social media platforms allow us to connect people from all different countries. Through platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you can communicate with people who stand with your opinion. People who has the same opinion can create a page or a group for those who stand with them can discuss. In these group, a person can share their view and they expect to receive the same respond from the others. If someone go backward to these opinions, they will be removed from the group. Generally, a person can stuck in a chamber with the people who have the same opinion or idea.
The danger here is it is not a group for expert discussions or any kind of discussion. What this does is it only reinforces already existing opinions and strengthens a community among like-minded people.
The reason of the attack may happen by these groups. People who support Trump could create a group, where they can discuss how they disagree with the voting result or may be they can plan a riot there. Before the day the rebellion happens, Trump posted on Twitter:
The incumbent US president urged his supporters to come to the capital on this important day to once again demonstrate their opposition to what he accuses of election fraud.
Perhaps from this statement of Donald Trump, Trump supporters with extreme attitudes have discussed this together in their closed groups, leading to the original purpose of just protesting Congress’s return. turned into a riot that caught the attention of the media.
After the incident, the social network Twitter announced a permanent ban on the account of US President Donald Trump, while other companies such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitch also placed restrictions on him because of the spillover effects. danger from the posts of the President; Many videos, articles, livestreams that incite violence are also restricted from interaction.
Many people assessed that President Donald Trump’s social media posts were the trigger, but the main cause was still extremist, extremist protesters who purposely called for an attack.
It can be said that, not only the protests in the US in recent times, but also anti-government protests, overthrowing the government in a number of European and North African countries (Lybia, Tunisia, Egypt) , England…) have deep causes from using the Internet to incite and incite people to participate in demonstrations, marches and even more, subversive riots.