On Jan. 6, eastern standard time, Washington D.C. was stunned when a horde of rabid Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the votes that elected Joe Biden as the next US President.
Clad in riot gear and waving Confederate and pro-Trump banners, the rioters smashed through windows and forced their way into the debating chamber where their Senate and House representatives were certifying Biden’s victory in the November 2020 election.
Trump’s weapon of choice has always been disinformation (aka fake news and lies), and the recent violence that took place at his urging may have been the final nail on his failed reelection campaign. Political observers, former US Presidents, even his own Republican Party allies have accused Trump of mobilizing his extremist follower base to march to the Capitol following his speech vowing to “never concede” the election.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram quickly moved to lock the impeached, outgoing President’s social media accounts on their respective platforms on the grounds of policy violation.
What finally got Trump banned on social media? The “promotion of terrorism” and “clear and direct threats of violence against an individual.”
The chaotic incident unfortunately finds parallel in our political scene. While our own commander in chief isn’t as social media-obsessed as Trump, members of his ruling party regularly use social media to spread disinformation to boost the President’s popularity and smash down critical voices.
With our own presidential election coming up in 2022, let’s keep in mind that social media will continue to be a nuclear arsenal for disinformation that could incite violence. The question is, are we going to get a Filipino version of the events that transpired in D.C.?