The White House will set up a working group to reduce network abuse and harassment

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The White House will launch a working group on network abuse prevention on Thursday, marking one of the most important steps the Biden administration has taken to explore the connection. between digital vitriol and violence.

The presentation fulfills Biden’s campaign commitment to bring together experts to explore online sexual harassment, sexual harassment and non-consensual pornography, as well as the link between abuse and mass shootings and violence against women. The long-awaited initiative begins after the massacres in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, which involved attackers with a history of network threats and radicalization.

“We see this again and again, we see extreme problems and how they turn into violence,” a senior White House official told reporters in a Wednesday afternoon call.

Prior to the massacre, gunman Uvalde frequently threatened teenage girls online

Vice President Harris, who has worked to combat online exploitation throughout his career, will present a working group at a White House event on Thursday, which will bring together top administration officials as well as survivors of cyberbullying and civil society experts. Once launched, the working group will have 180 days to create a set of government policy recommendations, as well as recommendations for technology companies, schools and other entities. He will also make recommendations for additional research.

Harris ’efforts to reduce network abuse have a controversial history. He was a sponsor of FOSTA-SESTA, a law that would open lawsuits against technology companies if they made sex trafficking known on their websites. Opponents of the law said the measure had a devastating effect on online speech and impaired the ability of sex workers to communicate safely.

Harris ’involvement continues with his work as California’s attorney general when he prosecuted a case against the operator of a cyber-exploitation website, and his efforts as a senator to make illegal image-sharing without consent illegal. However, there is still no federal law banning this activity. The team is chaired by the White House Gender Policy Council and the National Security Council, and includes the Attorney General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and other heads of federal and policy agencies.

The Biden administration came into office with high hopes of developing protocols to combat online hate and violence, especially on January 6, 2021, following the Capitol riots. But despite public criticism of social media companies, the White House has so far taken few measures in this area.

The administration’s most important social media initiative to date – the Government’s Security Committee’s Disinformation Commission – was disbanded after numerous attacks. The council’s stated aim was to “coordinate the fight against disinformation related to homeland security”, but it turned into a lightning strike after Conservatives said it could arise from the initiative after raising concerns about network censorship.

How the Biden administration stopped the right-wing attacks by thwarting disinformation efforts

A White House official said the network’s abuse team would focus on “illegal conduct,” including cyber-stalking, child abuse and trafficking related to material child sexual abuse.

“We are very mindful of First Amendment issues,” the official said. “But banning threatening speech is not supported by the First Amendment. So while we are navigating these issues carefully, we will focus on non-speech as well.”

Internet bullying is widespread and disproportionately affects young women and lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults. 33% of women under the age of 35 are sexually harassed online, compared to 11% of men, according to the Pew Research Center. According to the same data, 7 out of 10 lesbian, gay or bisexual adults have been harassed online.

A White House official said the task force was not focused on a specific social media platform, and would “look for opportunities to connect with industry experts and leaders” to improve product safety and design.

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