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.
The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.
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