Mapping the Capitol Attack & Its Aftermath: Tech, Extremism & Jan.6

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The January 6, 2021 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol exposed deep fissures between Americans and shook the very foundations of the country. The violence that day and the tech industry’s response to the tsunami of polarizing content triggered a major public debate over how social media and tech companies manage their platforms and services and the impact of content moderation policies on polarization, extremism, and political violence in the United States. That debate is also now playing out in Congress where a House Select Committee investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol is now underway. Over the last year since the attacks, researchers across the United States and around the world have been digging into the data on January 6, trying to make sense of how online mobilization connected to offline action in the real world in the lead up to and on the day of the attacks. Now, one year after the Capitol attack, new research from the Future Frontlines team at New America and the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council suggests that while the challenge of domestic extremism may appear to be in the rearview mirror, in reality an even tougher road may lie ahead as the 2022 mid-term election season gets underway.

Panel 1: Parler & The Road to the Capitol Attack: Investigating Alt-Tech Ties to January 6

One big question about the Capitol attack is: How did niche social media sites geared toward far-right audiences, like Parler, contribute to polarization around the 2020 presidential election and to what extent did Parler and other platforms factor into the January 6 attack? For answers to this and other questions about how the rise of so-called “alternative tech” or “alt-tech” social media platforms factored into the violence on January 6 please join us for a discussion of a new report from New America’s Future Frontlines program about a preliminary assessment of a cache of an estimated 183 million Parler posts publicly archived after Parler was temporarily deplatformed. The first in a series on how alt-tech sites tie into rising levels of political violence in the U.S. the report offers unique insights into online and offline early warning signs of the potential for election-related violence in the year-long run up to January 6. Guest speakers include:

Moderator:

  • Mary McCord, Executive Director, Institute for Constitutional Protection and Advocacy (ICAP)

Panelists:

  • Shawn Walker, Future Frontlines Scholar and Professor, ASU
  • Ben Dalton, Future Frontlines Fellow
  • Candace Rondeaux, Future Frontlines Director and Professor, ASU


Pop Up: Highlights from the Jan.6 Investigations

Speakers:

  • Ryan Goodman, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Just Security
  • Justin Hendrix, CEO, Tech Policy Press


Panel 2: After the Insurrection: How Domestic Extremists Adapted and Evolved after the January 6 US Capitol Attack

The Capitol attack precipitated significant changes in how domestic extremists formulate their strategy, organization, and ideology. It is safe to say that U.S. domestic extremists were battered by the blowback they faced after the Capitol riot, but not broken by it. In fact, a new report by the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) at the Atlantic Council has found that many of the sentiments espoused by domestic extremist causes are as public and insidious as ever, making their way into mainstream conservative discourse. The report looks to extremist movements, groups, and individuals for examples and indicators of adaptations made in attempts to overcome refreshed scrutiny and pressure affecting the broader ecosystem of radicalization and its manifestation into real-world political action.

The DFRLab’s findings underscore the importance of periodic accounting of domestic extremist challenges and strategizing methods to confront threats.

Moderator:

  • Candace Rondeaux, Future Frontlines Director and Professor, ASU

Panelists:

  • Jared Holt, Resident Fellow, Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), Atlantic Council
  • Shannon Hiller, Executive Director, Bridging Divides Initiative-Princeton University
  • Eric Ward, Executive Director, Western States Center
Date
January 6, 2022
Run time
2:01:11
Location:
Online
Presented by:
Future Frontlines