Op - Ed, Opinion

Welcome to World War III

By Brooke Geery

As soon as  a mob of conspiracy-theory-inspired thugs breached the gates and began to the climb the steps of the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, the finger pointing began. Rightfully, many blamed Trump for inciting the coup, which for all intents and purposes, was a failure, as all it did was delay the inevitable (the certification of Biden as a fairly elected president) and actually served to bring both parties closer together with many Republicans dropping their claims of fraud and jointly condemning the riots.

But let’s not be duped into scapegoating only Trump for this insurgency. Many enablers (including elected representatives) over the years are also responsible for selling Americans a reality devoid of facts or evidence to support all sorts of ludicrous claims.

Let’s also look a bit deeper and wider: none of this would have happened at all if Russia hadn’t meddled in the 2016 election. Without insidious foreign strategies to spread misinformation, which would ultimately lead to the election of Donald Trump, we would not be in this position at all. Surely, Putin and his pals delighted in watching their well-placed-pawn drum up support for the insurgence by holding a rally in the morning, and then doing nothing to quell the chaos through the day.

Trump is not actually in charge. He is a useful idiot, a pawn, a puppet. While we fixate on how he should or shouldn’t be punished, operatives from Russian and the Ukraine are being identified as part of the mob one by one. They were here at our capital, and they may have left with Nancy Pelosi’s laptop…

In China, the government is using the capitol riots as an excuse to crack down on protesters in Hong Kong.

Last week was certainly a stain on our national reputation, but it has much broader, more global implications for democracy, too.

Indeed, giving Trump the credit for what happened in Washington, D.C., is too simple.

Foreign powers took advantage of social media to do this. Twitter and Facebook’s bans of Trump do very little to solve the problems they have created, both with providing a platform for hate groups to proliferate, and allowing easy access for foreign adversaries to the majority of our citizens.

The social media companies must also bear some of the blame.

In a recent article titled, “Platforms must pay for their role in the insurrection,” published on Wired: “Facebook’s own research revealed that 64% of the time a person joins an extremist Facebook Group, they do so because the platform recommended it. Facebook has also acknowledged that pages and groups associated with QAnon extremism had at least 3 million members, meaning Facebook helped radicalize 2 million people. Over the past six months.”

It’s scary because it’s true. And before you cry “First Amendment” you need to remember, having a social media account is a privilege, not a right. And individual freedoms end when they infringe upon the safety and security of others and/or our constitutional democracy.

History will show that we are in the throes of World War III. This one won’t be fought with nuclear bombs and armed attacks, but rather is already happening digitally, with keystrokes and data breaches.

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