Facebook is partially to blame for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol building, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx, Queens) said during her virtual town hall last Friday.
“Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook bear partial responsibility for Wednesday’s events,” she said, adding, “I believe that this is directly connected to the complete lack of accountability that monopolies like Facebook have to democracy.”
Ocasio-Cortez drew a link between misinformation on social media pushing the theory of the presidential election being stolen from President Trump and the attack earlier in the month, saying, “we saw what was coming for a long time” and that the social media site “accelerated us to get to this point.”
In 2019, she asked Zuckerberg about false information being disseminated on the site during a congressional hearing.
“In a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves,” he said.
After the riot, Facebook announced a suspension of Trump’s account. It also announced it would no longer allow people to create new events near the White House, Capitol or state capitals until after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Facebook also said it would remove content containing the phrase “Stop the Steal.”
“They’re currently doing as much damage control as possible but they knew,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
She said the talk of election fraud was not one conversation but something that was repeatedly hammered.
“This is not a problem that’s going to go away Jan. 20,” Ocasio-Cortez said, adding, “What Trump has created doesn’t dissolve overnight.”
She noted that Trump cut funding in 2017 to a Department of Homeland Security program known as “Countering Violent Extremists,” which provides grants to communities to counter radicalism through outreach.
“We have to get that funding right back up and we probably need to double, triple, quadruple or increase funding for these deradicalization programs en masse,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The lawmaker also said, “The white supremacist cause is futile, it’s nihilist.”
Ocasio-Cortez also spoke of the implications of the Capitol riot itself.
“I think one of the reasons why this strikes as such a betrayal is because we may win elections to get to Congress but once we assume that seat and once we take our oath of office, our duty is not just to the people who voted for us,” she said. “And our responsibility is not just to those that we are in political agreement with.”