Selena Gomez is laying much of the blame for the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol at the feet of Big Tech, telling the leaders of Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube that they've allowed "people with hate in their hearts" to thrive and therefore "failed all the American people." (Jan. 14)
JEFF ORLOWSKI: I think celebrity influencers putting pressure on the system is one of the most powerful levers we have. In many ways, Selena and others are the ones who will get the direct attention of Mark and Sheryl and others like that, because they're the ones who are bringing in the revenue. They're the ones who are bringing in the eyeballs, right? Effectively, they are the magnet that these platforms leverage.
The top 20 people on Instagram have probably the most influence over Mark and Sheryl compared to anybody else. All of the press that's come out, all the ways that everybody tries to influence or get the companies to wake up, those have been seemingly less effective than, in some cases, direct messages from Selena saying, hey, Sheryl, this is what I think, and this is what you guys need to do.
IMRAN AHMED: What happened in-- on Capitol Hill was the result of years of indifference by social media companies to hate running rampant on their platforms, to divisive actors being allowed to manipulate people using lies, to great, big lies like the election was stolen being pushed out tens and hundreds of millions of people. But not just that. Also, the operational planning was happening in spaces that Selena, for example, was identifying to Sheryl Sandberg in advance, saying we need to do something about white supremacist extremism online, and their ability to just form a group on Facebook and happily talk away to each other, plan what they're going to do next.
As we saw with the climate change lobby, through celebrities taking a really, really powerful voice, adding their voices to it, this is the most important challenge for us today, because we've seen that this influences everything else. And the power of social media is that it influences not just elections, but it influences the climate change discussion, it influences COVID, it influences vaccines. And to get involved in that, I think, is incredibly forward-thinking of Selena. And we simply wouldn't have the impact without her.