CNN highlights alternative social media sites that offer a safe space for hate speech
Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
From the December 7 edition of CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:
Loading the player reg...
BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): As tech giants are trying to cut down on hate speech, people with fringe views are finding new homes on the web for their controversial content. And CNN tech senior correspondent, Laurie Segall, is here with more on her special Divided We Code. What did you find?
LAURIE SEGALL: Increasingly, there's so much pressure on these tech companies to take control of their platform. You saw the weaponization of these platforms during the election. But it's important to know that when they kick people off their platforms, these people don't go away, Brooke. And in many cases, they're actually building out their own internet infrastructure.
PewTube is one of many alternative sites popping up. This is Cody Wilson. I spoke to him years ago when he was working on a pretty controversial project.
CODY WILSON: I think I'm known as one of the more radical free speech activists.
SEGALL: He was dubbed one of the most dangerous people on the internet when he posted instructions showing how to 3-D print a homemade gun. Now he has a new crusade. It's called Hatreon. It's a place where extreme political content can get funding.
WILSON: Andrew Aurenheimer. You can call him a fascist probably.
SEGALL: He's like a very famous troll.
WILSON: Yeah, sent to federal prison and other things for the way he trolled AT&T. If you get somebody like Weev, that's a nice endorsement.
SEGALL: He's known as one of the worst trolls on the internet. He's a good get for you?
WILSON: I think so.
SEGALL: Just remember that narrative. OK.
WILSON: Well, Mr. Spencer is considered a pretty successful cultural troll.
SEGALL: Keep in mind, Richard Spencer's ideal is to have a white ethno-state. The fundamental question is should these people get a platform? And where should the line be drawn?
Are you worried that if some of the speech that's getting funded will incite violence, will you draw the line there?
WILSON: So, no. I'm not worried about it. I mean, when I'm talking about like incitement or lawlessness, I'm talking about, OK, you're outside of someone's home, there's a mob, and you say, there he is, get him. That's not protected speech. But these personalities that use Hatreon right now. These people are at worst trolls, performance artist, provocateurs, vulgarians, and at best, they represent elements of a political speech that should not be censored.
SEGALL: While he doesn't align himself with all their world views, Wilson is enabling what he calls the political speech of these characters. He's taking a cut too. He gets 5 percent of every dollar raised on Hatreon.
It's this idea that evil festers in darkness too, so we should look at these platforms as well to see what's out there, and how much attention should we pay? And I think more and more we're paying attention because so much of this hate online over the last couple years has turned offline. You just can't ignore it, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Is it all these kinds of characters that are upset with tech companies or are there others?
SEGALL: What's interesting is, it's these kinds of characters, right, but maybe even the larger story is it's also the government upset with tech companies. You have a month ago, tech companies, right, on Capitol Hill going and facing some really challenging questions about who stays and who goes on their platform, the weaponization of their platform. You have lawmakers calling for regulation. So, you know, tech, I've been covering tech for many years, it started out as this little beat that could, and now you're looking at these massive issues that impact every single one of us.