Barely a month into her tenure, Marjorie Taylor Greene is already making major headlines. A newly elected Republican Congresswoman from Georgia, Greene is a conduit for conspiracy theories, espousing QAnon beliefs in the halls of the Capitol Building. The Republican party (more specifically, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell) has verbally admonished Greene, and Democrats in the House recently voted to remove her from House committees. So far, these actions seem to only be fanning the flames.
Despite her freshman status in Congress, Greene speaks about the “mainstream media” with the same hollow fervor as her more senior Republican colleagues, turning news pundits and reporters into scapegoats for increasing political division in the US. In her speech on Friday, February 5th, a day after being stripped of her House committees, Greene addressed the media:
“You’re doing a really good job at addicting our nation to hate…teaching people to hate and then addicting them to it is killing our country. It’s causing people to no longer be friends, families to no longer talk to each other, even husbands and wives getting a divorce, parents not talking to their children and the other way around. I think that’s terrible and it’s shameful.”
We don’t disagree – Greene is hitting on what BRINK Foundation has been saying all along: the Internet is tearing us apart. However, she fails to recognize the bigger picture. She doesn’t acknowledge the system of complex Internet algorithms at play, a network of code that promotes the most engaged-with content on social media, content that tends toward the outrageous, angry, and sensational.
Greene’s own Congressional campaign and MAGA-supporting, QAnon-following ideologies have directly benefited from this system. Her tweets, for example, regularly go viral because she consistently appeals to hatred for the “radical left” and racial justice movements like Black Lives Matter. Her social media content is exactly the kind of sensationalism that algorithms elevate.
There’s no reason to wonder why she supports former President Donald Trump as much as she does – she gets her success from digital platforms in the same way, sowing discord and building a cult of personality in the process. Tech giants like Twitter and Facebook may have deplatformed Trump, but their actions must not end there.
Hatred doesn’t stop with the ouster of one political leader. Through decades of inaction from Internet businesses to moderate speech on their platforms, hateful partisanship has become increasingly (and publicly) ingrained in our American culture. To combat it, we think revisions to Section 230 are in order. We also believe that our elected officials need to be held accountable not just by the platforms that shined a spotlight on their dangerous ideologies in the first place, but by the systems that put them in power.
How do we stop the political bystander effect we’re seeing in Congress today, with only 11 Republican representatives voting to remove Greene from her House committees? Do politicians only speak the language of campaign financing? We saw after January 6th that corporate money speaks louder than political opposition – maybe the route to accountability is through their wallets.
Whatever the solution, it’s not going to be quick and it certainly won’t be easy. BRINK Foundation is committed to the slow and arduous journey of system reform that’s necessary to bring about lasting change. We need your help to stay the course.