Biden Administration to Launch Online Harassment Task Force

Vice President Harris on Thursday launched a new task force aimed at countering and preventing online harassment and abuse. “For far too many people the internet is a place of fear,” Harris said.

Today I am delivering remarks announcing the launch of the White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse. Tune in. https://t.co/UEIqkzZSqb

— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 16, 2022

Biden commissioned the task force via executive order on Thursday. It will be charged with developing recommendations for state governments, online platforms, schools and other public and private entities within six months.

Biden’s task force “aims to address the growing problem of online harassment and abuse which disproportionately targets women, girls and LGBTQI+ people,” a White House official told reporters in a call Wednesday, according to NBC News.

The White House pointed to the recent shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York when justifying the need for the online harassment task force. According to the administration, the internet plays a role in in fueling “hate, misogyny, and abuse with spillover effects that threaten our communities and safety offline.”

The panel’s recommendations will aim “to prevent and address technology-facilitated gender-based violence, including a focus on the nexus between online misogyny and radicalization to violence,” the White House said.

Guidance will include increased interagency cooperation on prevention efforts. It will also boost data collection and research with a particular emphasis on the effects of social media on adolescents. In addition, the White House hopes to boost training for federal, state and local officials.

The effort will fall under the umbrella of the White House’s Gender Policy Council and National Security Council. According to NBC News, the panel is “part of a campaign promise Biden made to work at ending gender-based violence and tackling online harassment, abuse and stalking.”

Members of the task force will include Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, among about a dozen others.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that she could not provide more information on the task force during a press briefing. Jean-Pierre instructed reporters to talk with the vice president’s team because she was “not on the background call.”

The announcement comes just weeks after plans for a DHS-led “Disinformation Governance Board” were scrapped.

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