This week, the United States observed the first anniversary of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. In two new episodes of the Tech Policy Press podcast, we look at the extremist movement in the United States and how the media and technology environment plays a role in it.
Part I features two discussions. First, we hear first from Jared Holt, a resident fellow at Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), who will walk us through the findings of his latest report, After the Insurrection: How Domestic Extremists Adapted and Evolved After the January 6 US Capitol Attack, which chronicles how the far right has reorganized and adjusted strategically since January 6 to position itself to continue the assault on our democracy.
And then, we hear from Candace Rondeaux and Ben Dalton, who just completed a report with an interdisciplinary group of researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) and staff at New America titled Parler and the Road to the Capitol Attack: Investigating Alt-Tech Ties to January 6. The report looks closely at one social media platform that served as a ‘hothouse’ of activity leading up to and on January 6- and how the alternative social media ecosystem has evolved since that day.
In Part II, we hear from two individuals who are working to deprive the racists and violent extremists who radicalize Americans and attack our democracy of an important source of funding: advertising revenues.
The Check My Ads Institute is an independent watchdog organization that seeks to reform the digital ad tech industry from inside. At its website it says “we’re holding the surveillance ad tech industry accountable for abuses against advertisers and consumers, and spearheading the development of a transparent, efficient and privacy-focused digital advertising marketplace.”
This week, Check My Ads launched a new campaign- Defund the Insurrectionists– that seeks to cut domestic extremists off from a key source of funding for their propaganda efforts. Check My Ads wants to alert advertisers that are unwittingly funding the insurrectionists, and demand that ad tech companies that continue to send millions of dollars in ad revenues to extremist platforms, despite it being against their terms of service, cease their bad business practices.
To learn more about the new campaign, I caught up with Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin, the team behind Check My Ads.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.