Ask Me Anything: Next Sunday night at 8 PM EDT, we’re hosting our first call for Patreon members (Silver and above) as well as our 2017 donors. I’ll be answering your questions with HOPE not hate’s senior researcher Joe Mulhall. We can talk the far right, disinformation, whatever you like. Your participation determines the agenda. I hope you’ll join us! – Melissa

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Musings on a Post-Mueller Era

by Melissa Ryan

We haven’t seen the Mueller Report but we know Trump, while not exonerated, won’t be charged with obstruction of justice. As I watched the reaction to Barr’s letter I realized to some extent it doesn’t matter what the report actually says. Republicans would only believe things that put Trump in a positive light and Democrats’ opinions of Trump weren’t going to change either. To be clear, I want the report released. My tax dollars helped fund it. But the Right has been telling us for months that they won’t accept anything negative the report says about their guy. Nothing the Mueller Report could say is going to change that.

Meanwhile the underlying issues still exist. Russia continues to interfere in American political discourse and other state actors have joined them, adopting similar tactics. Just this week Facebook announced another takedown of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” originating in Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo. They continue to prey on political weaknesses of the countries they target, and here in America we give them plenty to work with. African Americans continue to be especially vulnerable to voter suppression and trolls exploiting African American identities to sow division. The Trump Administration has shown little to no interest in doing anything about any of this, and pro-Trump trolls have adopted tactics and best practices from hostile state actors for their own purposes.

2020 online is going to be a shitshow. I worry a lot less about straight political disinformation, partly because as the Mueller report shows us people are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s just a less effective tactic than it was a few years ago. But we haven’t made nearly enough progress on fighting extremism, the mainstreaming of extremist views, and online radicalization. The Trump political operation will exploit the hell out of this reality. White nationalists are a constituency they will continue to foster. They’ll also continue to amplify extremist political views to a global audience. It’s an electoral strategy that puts us all in danger but that’s the reality.

It’s worth noting that this week, Facebook finally extended its ban on hate speech to “prohibit the promotion and support of white nationalism and white separatism.” Twitter is considering adding a flag to tweets from political figures that also violate the site’s policies on hate speech and other terms of service violations. Expect the right to continue harping about conservative bias but also be on the lookout for complaints about tech companies not removing what they term hate from the left. Hate speech isn’t a partisan issue but the right will do everything they can to game the refs here.

So how do we move forward? My hope for the Post-Mueller era is that the House (where Democrats have the majority) can investigate Trump in an open and transparent way with far more disclosures to the public than the Special Counsel’s Investigation allowed. Same goes for foreign interference, extremism, and online toxicity. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the American public deserves a hell of a lot more than we’ve had since Trump took office.

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‘Terror doesn’t end when the last bullet has been fired’: Christchurch & the media

by Patrik Hermansson, HOPE not hate researcher

The announcement of the attack online, the manifesto, the far-right keywords graffitied onto his weapons and the live streamed video of the attack: the Christchurch attack was both planned for the social media age but also, at least in-part, a product of it. We have to stop the irresponsible practices of many media outlets and rethink how such events are covered.

Read the analysis here.


ICYMI

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You Really Ought to Give Iowa a Try

I had a wonderful time in Iowa City, participating in The Future of Politics event with University of Iowa Public Policy Center and Iowa Public Radio. It was a broad discussion about the state of U.S. Politics today and what the future holds with me, NPR’s Tamara Keith, and conservative commentator Chris Buskirk. (Chris and I found rare agreement in that we both want to break up tech monopolies, though admittedly for different reasons.) I also enjoyed my conversations with students after the event.

Iowa Public Radio’s River to River broadcast a condensed version of the program. Take a listen.

Don’t forget, our first AMA call just for Patreon members is one week from today. Become a Patron as a Silver member and receive exclusive access to our first members online call today!

Until next week…