Forensic research group confirms Capitol attack was not spontaneous

Donald Trump supporters outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, Tyler Merble
According to a report published by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was the "direct result of a months-long effort rooted in disinformation" that was "promoted by President Donald Trump."

The group has put together a comprehensive timeline that shows how the movement was "coordinated by some of his most fervent, conspiratorial supporters; and incorporating a wide range of supporting groups."

The research article, published at Just Security, uses material posted "in plain sight" on online platforms which were designed to convince people of falsehoods about the 2020 elections. The disinformation campaign centered around the "Stop the Steal" movement, which hosted a rally on Jan. 6 that preceded the violence at the Capitol.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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