The White House at Sunset

White House Announces Tech Companies Will Update Features Against Extremism

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The White House recently announced on Thursday that major online sites will work on developing new features to help fight against online extremism. 

Per the Washington Post, companies such as YouTube, Twitch, Microsoft and the Facebook-owned Meta announced that they’ll be releasing new initiatives to combat extreme online hate. YouTube will reportedly tighten its policies, promising to take down any videos portraying violence in a positive light regardless of users. 

Meanwhile, Twitch will develop new features for creators to use themselves to limit any verbal assault on their channel and ensure their safety while Microsoft will develop a new safety online education program for any Minecraft users. 

The announcements come as the Biden administration unveiled their “Enhancing Competition and Tech Platform Accountability” initiative featuring six principles they say will help hold tech companies accountable for any harm they cause. 

The six principles involved include strengthening privacy and online protection for children, limiting how personal data is used and maintained and getting rid of special legal protection big tech companies have under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a legal act that protects giant tech corporations during lawsuits. They also include calls to have tech companies be more transparent with users, more protection action discriminatory algorithms and increasing competition in the tech world. 

“These principles are the culmination of months of work by the administration and engagement with numerous stakeholders,” said White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, per Reuters. “We’re looking forward to hearing any feedback from the tech companies.”

The efforts to combat online hate come after extra pressure was put on the Biden administration to address the issue following the Uvalde, Rex. and Buffalo shootings; in both instances, the shooters had a history of spreading violent online hate. 

While everyone is subjected to online hate on the internet, members of BIPOC communities are mainly targeted, according to the United States Department of Justice. In their latest report analyzing hate crimes in 2020, the department found that, as the U.S. reported their highest level of hate crimes in 12 years, victims were most often targeted because of their race or ethnicity; in the report, 62% of victims said that they were abused as of a result of biases against them. 

Black Americans were targeted the most out of any racial or ethnic group as they were identified as victims of 2,871 cases this year- up 49% in the span of one year. As a result, the percentage has increased the overall rate of online hate by 9%.

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