White House Refuses To Join Effort To Combat Far-Right Extremism Online
The threat of far-right extremism across the United States and the rest of the globe is rising. Notably, the inspiration for such terrorist attacks tends to stem from the internet.
Extremists, chatting with each other in online groups, like 8chan for example, are exchanging ideas and disseminating hateful rhetoric that often turns into violent action.
In some cases, violent offenders often end up talking with each other. The New York Times detailed such an incident in which a school shooter in New Mexico corresponded with another gunman from Munich, Germany. Between the two, 11 people were shot and killed by the gunmen.
The shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, who shot and killed dozens in a mosque in March and documented it in a livestream broadcast, was also inspired by such far-right websites, according to the Washington Post.
White House says it won't endorse international call to fight online extremism after New Zealand massacre amid free speech concerns https://t.co/fl3CSzjS5m
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 15, 2019
With the documented rise in right-wing extremism, and the use of the internet as an apparent mitigator of such violence, several nations around the globe are planning to fight against such elements.
But not the U.S.
An agreement called the “Christchurch call to action” is being spearheaded by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron. The agreement calls on nations and online companies to find ways to reduce violence across the world, including means to stop such violent rhetoric from inspiring would-be terrorist assassins in the future.
Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada are also signing onto the agreement. Facebook and Google also plan to cooperate, reported HuffPost.
Yet the White House has said it won’t be signing on anytime soon, citing First Amendment concerns.
“We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” the administration said in a statement.
Far-right extremism has been on the rise over the past couple of years. One report has found that such attacks doubled from the year 2016 to 2017, per reporting from Voice of America.
That study, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, described ‘internet and social media use by far-right groups’ as a mitigating factor in the rise of domestic terrorism.