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Safe Havens for Hate
The Challenge of Moderating Online Extremism
(Forthcoming, Princeton University Press)

Content moderation on social media platforms has become one of the most pressing and contested global policy issues. From combating misinformation and hate speech to addressing AI-manipulated media and problematic content targeting children, debates over how to combat harmful content online have taken center stage. But as governments and the public place mounting pressure on technology companies to do more to fight the problem, harmful content on social media does not seem to go down. Why?

In Safe Havens for Hate, Mitts provides a novel account of how content moderation shapes the activity of harmful content producers, by offering a deep dive into networks of extremist organizations on a wide range of social media platforms. Drawing on rich data on the activity of over a hundred militant and hate organizations, Mitts shows that different moderation standards across platforms create “safe havens” that allow these actors to organize, launch campaigns, and mobilize supporters.

The book advances knowledge on the digital battleground where dangerous organizations operate by showing how the structure of the information environment shapes their cross-platform activity. It also contributes to research on social media regulation by offering a systematic account of the consequences of regulatory provisions – an area that has not received significant attention in the literature. Finally, the book adds to the growing body of work on censorship in the digital era by showing how governments grapple with the tension between censorship and free speech when faced with violence, hate, and extremism on social media.

The relationship between platform size and moderation

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