Mozilla, creator of web browser Firefox, says deplatforming Trump is not enough
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January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Mozilla, the organization responsible for popular web browser Firefox, argued in a post on the official company blog that “more than just the temporary silencing or permanent removal of bad actors from social media platforms” is required to stop “violence and hate.”
The blog post, written by Mitchell Baker, who is the Executive Chairwoman and CEO of the Mozilla Foundation and of Mozilla Corporation, explicitly referred to recent deplatforming actions taken by Big Tech against President Donald Trump.
The open-source software company’s blog entry, entitled, “We need more than deplatforming,” claims that simply removing social media accounts does not go far enough in stunting “white supremacy” online. Mozilla lands the blame for last Wednesday’s “siege and take-over of the U.S. Capitol” squarely on Trump’s shoulders, describing his “reprehensible” actions as the “use of the internet to foment violence and hate, and reinforce white supremacy.”
Mozilla tweeted the blog post with the caption: “This week we saw the culmination of a four-year disinformation campaign orchestrated by the President. We have to acknowledge how the internet was misused to get here.”
This week we saw the culmination of a four-year disinformation campaign orchestrated by the President. We have to acknowledge how the internet was misused to get here.
And we have to change it.https://t.co/gIVZHQPYT4— Mozilla (@mozilla) January 8, 2021
“Donald Trump is certainly not the first politician to exploit the architecture of the internet in this way,” Baker writes in the blog, ominously warning that “he won’t be the last.”
In the hope that others might be prevented from following in Trump’s footsteps, Baker proffers some solutions to the “dangerous dynamics” posed by such “bad actors.”
In addition to the permanent removal of individual accounts, Baker suggests that websites should detail “who is paying for advertisements, how much they are paying and who is being targeted.” Mozilla also asks that online businesses commit to “meaningful transparency of platform algorithms so we know how and what content is being amplified, to whom, and the associated impact.”
One more proposal by Baker suggests that media platforms “[t]urn on by default the tools to amplify factual voices over disinformation.” The “tools” spoken of here include algorithms which have been specifically developed to suppress news agencies considered “hyperpartisan” in favor of so-called “authoritative outlets,” according to an article in the New York Times.
Facebook used this method during the 2020 presidential election to enact changes that helped “limit the spread of inaccurate claims about the election,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osbourne said. Osbourne asserted that the algorithms were a temporary measure during the election, but that the social media giant is “still ensuring that people see authoritative and informative news on Facebook, especially during major news cycles and around important global topics like elections, COVID-19 and climate change.”
The Times reports that the amplification of “authoritative” news “resulted in an increase in Facebook traffic for mainstream news publishers including CNN, NPR and The New York Times, while partisan sites like Breitbart and Occupy Democrats saw their numbers fall.”
Baker’s final demand in her blog post is that internet platforms “[w]ork with independent researchers” to determine the impact online platforms have on our society. In this way, she says, we can “improve things.”
The blog concludes with Baker writing that the “answer is not to do away with the internet, but to build a better one that can withstand and gird against these types of challenges.”
Since the tumultuous events of last Wednesday’s Electoral College vote, President Trump has been subject to increasing censorship from Big Tech and other web-based platforms. Last Thursday, Facebook and Instagram banned Trump from their platforms “indefinitely,” alleging that he is seeking to “undermine” the transition of power to Joe Biden.
This was swiftly followed by Twitter, which permanently banned the president for tweets that they allege “incite violence” when “read in the context of broader events in the country.” The social media giant further claimed that Trump’s tweets “glorify, celebrate, praise or condone violent crimes, violent events where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group.”
LifeSite’s Raymond Wolfe noted the inconsistency in Twitter’s application of its Glorification of Violence policy insofar as the company “has left up numerous accounts and posts directly advocating for the murder of the president and his supporters.”