Fearing more violence, online platforms are cracking down on livestreams from Washington

CNN Business: Faith Karimi


When a mob of rioters overran barriers and broke into the Capitol on January 6, some of them boasted about their exploits on livestreams as thousands of followers watched in real time.


As they marched through hallways and ransacked lawmakers' offices, they offered a play-by-play of their actions on YouTube, Facebook and other platforms as a transfixed nation watched. Other rioters turned to lesser-known streaming outlets such as DLive.


Now some livestream platforms are taking steps to crack down on such broadcasts after the assault on the Capitol and in anticipation of potential disruptions at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Facebook plans to block "the creation of any new Facebook events" near the White House, the US Capitol and any state capitol buildings through Inauguration Day.


"We're monitoring for signals of violence or other threats both in Washington, DC and across all 50 states," the company said in a statement. "In the lead up to Inauguration Day, we have implemented a series of additional measures to continue preventing attempts to use our services for violence."


YouTube says it has removed multiple videos shot during the assault on the Capitol that appeared to incite violence or show Capitol rioters carrying firearms. The company told CNN it will continue to remove livestreams and other content that violate its guidelines on hate, harassment and election integrity.


And DLive, a streaming service popular with gamers, announced after the Capitol attack it had suspended seven of its users for incitement of violence and illegal activities on January 6.

DLive has since announced additional measures and said it's blocking all livestreams from the Washington, DC, area on Inauguration Day.


Security experts fear extremists like the ones who invaded the Capitol may be motivated by widely shared images portraying that siege as a success.


The Capitol livestreams provided a platform to spread hate while encouraging those who film them to pander to their followers, said Pete Eliadis, a former law enforcement official and founder of Intelligence Consulting Partners.


Eliadis believes the streamers' revealing their vantage point inside the Capitol also has broader national security ramifications.


"It's being watched by state actors all over the world. ... If I'm a bad actor, I know the layout of the Capitol ... I can see the defenses, the police response and I can counter that now," he told CNN. "That's a huge challenge on a larger scale platform."


Mob mentality and instant gratification also play a big role,he said.


"Individuals are filming this, they're blasting it to their followers, their followers are picking it up and it's bringing immediate feedback and instantaneous reward," he said. "You're seeing the impact of your filming, you're getting that adrenaline rush, you're almost pandering to your audience. "


That gives the "influencers" more incentive to frame the story through their own lenses, which leads to a dangerous form of power that "enhances the ideology and the movement," Eliadis said.



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