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Jelle van Buuren in NRC on social media and the storming of the Capitol

Jelle van Buuren, university lecturer at ISGA, discusses the role that social media played in the storming of the Capitol last Wednesday

Since Joe Biden's victory in November, social media have been filled with republican fantasies about 'regaining' power. People with a major online impact also share the messages, which has led experts to warn that this language can lead to real violence. Jelle van Buuren says that being informed consistently via social media that the elections have been stolen will at some point change your perception of reality. Van Buuren: 'Then you actually get the feeling that the future of the country, the soul of America, is at stake

'Too much, too late'

Facebook deleted messages on Wednesday applauding the storming, as well as images from inside the Capitol. In addition, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter blocked Trump's accounts for at least 24 hours. According to van Buuren, these measures are too much, too late: 'These platforms have allowed everything for years, and still often turn out to be an important factor in the radicalisation of people. Now, all of a sudden, very firm action is being taken. Then it can be thought that it is mainly for the stage'.

Private companies are currently setting the limits of freedom of expression, which is something you would normally prefer to leave to the judiciary. Van Buuren thinks the measures taken by the platforms go too far: 'There is also something to be said for the argument that people should know how the President of America addresses his voters'.

Read the full article of NRC here

Jelle van Buuren is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University - Institute of Security and Global Affairs. His research interests lie in, among other things, European police cooperation, intelligence cooperation and border management. He is currently researching what role conspiracy thinking is playing in processes of delegitimisation.

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