Following riots at the U.S. Capitol today by pro-Trump extremists falsely claiming the 2020 election was fraudulent, MapLight President and Co-Founder Daniel G. Newman issued the following statement:
“Today is a reminder that when people in power as well as technology and social media companies relied upon by so many for news and information amplify lies, conspiracies, and disinformation, we face real-world consequences, including physical violence and the disintegration of democratic values and principles. What we saw today was a violent interruption to a key step in the peaceful transfer of power — a cornerstone of our democracy — caused by the weaponization of disinformation spread and amplified on social media.
President Trump and the Republican officials who have repeatedly spread dangerous lies about the 2020 election started this fire, but the social media and technology companies where disinformation and conspiracies run wild bear responsibility as well for prioritizing profits over democracy. We cannot take our democracy for granted any longer, and protecting it means committing to end the rampant spread of political disinformation and lies that stoke outrage and division — and create the kind of alternate reality where many Trump supporters falsely believe the election was stolen. A strong, participatory democracy demands news and shared facts people can trust and leadership that respects and protects our democracy, not encourages its destruction.”