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[NPR] On Far-Right Websites, Plans To Storm Capitol Were Made In Plain Sight

Maiden Voyage

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Bolding is my own, for emphasis:
The mob violence that descended on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was the culmination of weeks of incendiary rhetoric and increasingly feverish planning – much of which took place openly on websites that cater to far-right conspiracy theorists.

Jared Holt spends a lot of time on those websites. He's a visiting research fellow with the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, where he's been focused on extremist online activity.

Since November's election, Holt has seen websites like Parler, Gab, TheDonald, and MeWe fill with torrents of "conspiracy theories, disinformation and outright lies about the results of the election," he says. "And those lies often came from the top arbiters of power in the Republican Party, notably President Donald Trump himself."

The day's events brought unprecedented traffic to some niche sites. The CEO of Gab, Andrew Torba, said that the site's traffic was up 40% on Wednesday.

More than 80% of the top posts on TheDonald on Wednesday about the Electoral College certification featured calls for violence in the top five responses, according to research from Advance Democracy, Inc., an independent, non-partisan organization.

And it wasn't just fringe websites. On Twitter, ADI found more than 1,480 posts from QAnon-related accounts about Jan. 6 that contained terms of violence since Jan. 1. On TikTok, videos promoting violence garnered hundreds of thousands of views.


Trump's claims have fueled increasingly heated rhetoric since the election, Holt says – spiking in the last couple of weeks as Trump doubled down on conspiracy theories like the false and unfounded notion that a company that makes electronic voting systems had deleted votes for Trump.

"Then it really, really went nuts," Holt says. After Trump promoted a Jan. 6 protest in D.C., "a lot of his extremist supporters interpreted this as a call to action for them."

Holt and his colleagues saw fringe social media sites fill with messages organizing logistics for that date, as well as activation of anti-government extremists like militia groups, conspiracy theorists, and white nationalist activists "on a scale and volume that we haven't seen at any other point during the electoral process this cycle."

As it became clear over the last week that Vice President Pence was not necessarily going to somehow overturn the results of the election, Holt says the discussion on the right-wing extremist sites turned to taking matters into their own hands.

On forum boards like TheDonald and antigovernment and militia movement group chats, those conversations included plans to surround the Capitol on all sides, alongside maps of the U.S. Capitol complex marked with locations of tunnels and entry points. "And there was discussion specifically of overwhelming police with large crowds and doing that in order to violate laws against carrying weapons and against entering federal buildings," Holt says.

There wasn't a specific time or a formal plan, "but the discussions to do exactly what we saw [Wednesday] ... this was an idea that was fomenting and spreading and shared approvingly between users in these extremist communities that we've been watching."


There was also much discussion on such forums about ways to find and attack Black Lives Matter and antifascist protesters, Holt says. But on Wednesday, those groups largely stayed home. That may have shifted Trump supporters' focus to its eventual target, Holt suggests: "Perhaps the lack of a counterprotest to receive the violence that all these supporters were so ready to unleash meant that that energy instead was directed at the federal government."

Holt says that even though he was closely monitoring the conversations happening on fringe right-wing sites, he was still taken aback when the overheated rhetoric turned into violent reality.

"I was surprised," he says. "One of the challenges of doing the line of work that I do is these are extremist communities and the rhetoric is extreme just all the time. It got really, really intense running up to the protest, but oftentimes the ratio of extreme rhetoric to extreme action — there is a little bit of difference there."

But this time, that rhetoric translated into violent action.

Holt says in the preceding days, he had spoken with others about what he was seeing being planned on these extremist sites. "I was like, well, they're talking about doing X, Y, Z. And, you know, maybe it'll happen — probably not. And then it all happened."

So what was different this time — why did the bluster turn into a violent attack?

Holt believes the key factor was the remarks from President Trump and his allies when they addressed the rally on Wednesday.

When Trump told his supporters to head to the Capitol, Holt says, "I think the levee just broke."

"If Trump had not told people to go to the Capitol, I don't know that it would have happened. Because people on the ground were engaged in some pretty extreme rhetoric about coming back with guns if things don't go their way, and stuff like that. But there wasn't any real sort of significant action happening on the ground until Trump finished his speech."

Whitney Phillips, researches misinformation and disinformation at Syracuse University. On Wednesday, "I saw what I have been expecting to see for the last several months, even several years," she says.

In the march toward the 2020 election, "at every turn Trump and his enablers in Congress and in the media ecosystem were parroting some version of the 'deep state' narrative," she says.

Trump avoided using the term for years while promoting its ideas, laying the groundwork for what is happening now, Phillips says — and when he lost the election, he then used that narrative "as a bludgeon against the American people."

Those who have believed in QAnon or 'deep state' theories have had those ideas reinforced for years by the conspiracy-driven media they consume, as well as elected officials who repeat them.

The result is that now, amid election results contested by Trump, "this is a well-established narrative way of being in the world. It's not even a conspiracy theory — it is an identity," Phillips says.

"So what happened in the Capitol is really the culmination of months and in some cases years of belief in the sort of paradigmatic world in which you have a very clear set of bad guys who are out to get Trump, and you have a very clear set of good guys who are fighting that battle."

In the coming weeks, the niche platforms that have provided safe haven for extremist movements will come under increased scrutiny, Holt predicts. "And these companies, which don't have the same legal defenses or resources or infrastructure that a major site like Facebook or Twitter has, may falter under that pressure. But that remains to be seen."

Holt says Wednesday's events show that the current approach to combating disinformation and extremism online isn't working. That approach is often reactive, rather than proactive.


"Oftentimes, by the time a Facebook or a Twitter cracks down on certain pieces of misinformation, it is far too late to halt its spread," he says. "I think as a society and as a nation, we are beyond the point of overdue for a serious comprehensive examination and discussion about how we're going to fix this problem. Because if we don't, the next time could be worse."

And Phillips says that reckoning must not only concern platform moderation, or only Trump and his enablers – but as rather recognize these events as the culmination of decades-old forces and beliefs.

"What we need to reckon with is not what happened yesterday, but everything that led us to yesterday," she says. "And until we're really willing and able to look back that far and take inventory of what's happened, then we're only ever going to be slapping BandAids on grotesquely broken arms."

I think we're going to see a push for stronger moderation & curation for online communities as a direct consequence from the riot in DC.
 

spandexmonkey

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More moderation and curation would be retarded, but not unexpected. It's better they do this in plain sight, people just need to pay attention to it. Like criminals filming their exploits.
 
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Maiden Voyage

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More moderation and curation would be retarded, but not unexpected. It's better they do this in plain sight, people just need to pay attention to it. Like criminals filming their exploits.

This may just fizzle away too. But I am seeing the sentiment expressed more frequently since the riot in DC.
 
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Monkeygourmet

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Isn’t it pretty standard practice that shills and overseers are monitoring almost every known forum and agent provocateurs are at almost every ‘protest’?

Gaf, for example is labelled a ‘far right’ breeding ground.

Forums, Groups and Protests are almost all honey traps now it’s so obvious it’s not even funny.
 
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INCUBASE

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Looks like the FBI really dropped the ball on monitoring groups who they classify as domestic terrorists.

They werent technically domestic terrorists at that point tho

And the majority of trump supports still aren't, there was shit loads outside, protesting peacefully.

Seems odd they were let in tho. Then again law enforcement endorsed trump.......take from that what you will
 
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showernota

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They werent technically domestic terrorists at that point tho

And the majority of trump supports still aren't, there was shit loads outside, protesting peacefully.

Seems odd they were let in tho. Then again law enforcement endorsed trump.......take from that what you will
That's demonstrably false.

 

Maiden Voyage

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Looks like the FBI really dropped the ball on monitoring groups who they classify as domestic terrorists.

From the article:
Holt says that even though he was closely monitoring the conversations happening on fringe right-wing sites, he was still taken aback when the overheated rhetoric turned into violent reality.

"I was surprised," he says. "One of the challenges of doing the line of work that I do is these are extremist communities and the rhetoric is extreme just all the time. It got really, really intense running up to the protest, but oftentimes the ratio of extreme rhetoric to extreme action — there is a little bit of difference there."

But this time, that rhetoric translated into violent action.

Holt says in the preceding days, he had spoken with others about what he was seeing being planned on these extremist sites. "I was like, well, they're talking about doing X, Y, Z. And, you know, maybe it'll happen — probably not. And then it all happened."

It seems to me to be a difficult job trying to figure out which conversations are people venting vs which will lead to violence. Legislators may opt to make this a non-issue by regulating more strictly what is and is not allowed online.
 
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showernota

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From the article:


It seems to me to be a difficult job trying to figure out which conversations are people venting vs which will lead to violence. Legislators may opt to make this a non-issue by regulating more strictly what is and is not allowed online.
That's really not good enough. 20 years of post 9/11 Patriot Act surveillance, the biggest day of 2021 politically, and the best they can come up with is:
"I was like, well, they're talking about doing X, Y, Z. And, you know, maybe it'll happen — probably not. And then it all happened."
 

tichamac

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B-universe

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Bolding is my own, for emphasis:


I think we're going to see a push for stronger moderation & curation for online communities as a direct consequence from the riot in DC.

And why are you not expressing your opinion on that possible outcome?

For example, what's your opinion on how that possible outcome will be achieved? Legislation? Would you be ok with it?

I mean, I can read NPR for myself, should I ever decide to award them clicks. I'm more interested in your position. Your position is something I cannot get from reading NPR.

Thanks in advance.
 

SF Kosmo

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I think most of us who are at least tuned in enough to take the temperature on the right saw this coming. These people have been losing their goddamn mind because the powers that be whipped them into a frenzy with a tidal wave of bullshit to convince them democracy itself was at stake.

But also, look, some of these people were terrorists who were ready to kill, but most of them when they got to the front lines of their battlefield just wanted to takes selfies and commit petty vandalism. Bunch of LARPers. It can be hard to tell these people from the types to actually plant a pipe bomb or attack a cop or whatever (as some others there did).
 

Maiden Voyage

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And why are you not expressing your opinion on that possible outcome?

For example, what's your opinion on how that possible outcome will be achieved? Legislation? Would you be ok with it?

I mean, I can read NPR for myself, should I ever decide to award them clicks. I'm more interested in your position. Your position is something I cannot get from reading NPR.

Thanks in advance.

Do you really need my opinion on the matter, though? It's a complex topic and I quite honestly haven't spent enough time thinking on it to really come to a concrete opinion. However...

Outcome would be through legislation. It would be difficult to pass, as the 1st amendment would need to be whittled away. I am never in favor of making modifications to the Bill of Rights. To me those are the cornerstone of the US.

As far as not reading NPR, I do understand people don't like some outlets. I strive to paste the articles here for those individuals, same as this OP.
 
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Maiden Voyage

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That's really not good enough. 20 years of post 9/11 Patriot Act surveillance, the biggest day of 2021 politically, and the best they can come up with is:

I think that's what is troubling about the article, right? If the agencies (Gov't, Non-Profit, or private) that monitor this stuff can miss an event like this, what else is being missed right now.

I almost expect a commission to review the events, to put out a report of the findings, and propose actions to resolve. Who knows though?
 
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GribbleGrunger

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It was antifa, making troll accounts to make them attack, trump had nothing to do with it


Or something something freedom
Who is this post aimed at? I don't think it was Antifa and nearly every single Republican media outlet I frequent doesn't think it was Antifa. All I've seen from 99% of everyone is condemnation of the Republicans who were responsible for this, and they're calling for the full force of the law to be brought down on them. just as we saw with some of the riots, it's always worth considering that some 'actors' are from the opposing side. I myself did not dismiss the possibility that some radical right wing groups could easily have fired up pockets of violence here and there during the months of riots. It would be stupid not to consider it. The mainstream media seemed to make it the backbone of their commentary, at least when they had to reluctantly admit a couple of times it was not just 'peaceful protests'.

And there you are immediately blaming Trump himself for the behaviour of these Republicans who have done nothing like this for 4 years. When you support a party openly calling for Republicans to be hounded and harassed in the streets. There are dozens and dozens of examples of this and as clear as you can get. Not carefully 'suggesting' action against Republicans but blatantly and clearly calling for it. Yours is a nasty party, filled with nasty people to whom violence is second nature. 'Punch a Nazi' is your movements go to excuse for violence because the media and the Dems have managed to brainwash you into believing Trump is Hitler and his supporters are Nazis.

It wasn't Trump's doing, it was a bunch of stupid Republicans who clearly got tired of being called Nazis, being banned on social media, being demonised in the press, being harassed on the streets, being beaten and murdered and having their businesses burnt to the ground.

I won't have fascists moralising to me thank you.
 

B-universe

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Do you really need my opinion on the matter, though? It's a complex topic and I quite honestly haven't spent enough time thinking on it to really come to a concrete opinion.

This is a very surprising statement.

However...

Outcome would be through legislation.


So you do support expanding limitations to free speech beyond the provisions already inscribed in the law - which include dispositions against Incitement to violence, such as, "speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats (...)" (source)?

What, in your opinion, is not already covered by the exceptions in place? What, in your opinion, does the assault reveal that hasn't been revealed by previous riots?

Your opinion strikes me as truly amazing territory.

It would be difficult to pass, as the 1st amendment would need to be whittled away. I am never in favor of making modifications to the Bill of Rights. To me those are the cornerstone of the US.

I'm confused here.

The law already makes certain exceptions. More exceptions, not covered by existing law, would require something fundamental to be changed, no?

As far as not reading NPR, I do understand people don't like some outlets. I strive to paste the articles here for those individuals, same as this OP.

Sure, and to be clear, I wasn't criticizing you for it. You enjoy reading NPR. Not only do you have the right to read NPR, you also have the right to call attention to and spread its viewpoints. NPR does tend to offer a good music selection.

I just wanted to hear your own opinion on the matter.
 
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Maiden Voyage

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This is a very surprising statement.




So you do support expending limitations to free speech beyond the provisions already inscribed in the law - which include dispositions against Incitement to violence, such as, "speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats (...)" (source)?

What, in your opinion, is not already covered by the exceptions in place? What, in your opinion, does the assault reveal that hasn't been revealed by previous riots?

Your opinion strikes me as truly amazing territory.



I'm confused here.

The law already makes certain exceptions. More exceptions, not covered by existing law, would require something fundamental to be changed, no?



Sure, and to be clear, I wasn't criticizing you for it. You enjoy reading NPR. Not only do you have the right to read NPR, you also have the right to call attention to and spread its viewpoints. NPR does tend to offer a good music selection.

I just wanted to hear your own opinion on the matter.

Holy shit dude, you're reading way too much into that post.
 

diffusionx

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But also, look, some of these people were terrorists who were ready to kill, but most of them when they got to the front lines of their battlefield just wanted to takes selfies and commit petty vandalism. Bunch of LARPers. It can be hard to tell these people from the types to actually plant a pipe bomb or attack a cop or whatever (as some others there did).

Or, you know, they were actually people who were protesting a grievance. We are allowed to protest grievances, whether CNN deems that grievance legitimate or not.

Left wing operatives have "stormed" these buildings many times over the years, and nobody claimed it was an "insurrection" in the past.

This is pure lies and fantasy.
 

SF Kosmo

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Or, you know, they were actually people who were protesting a grievance. We are allowed to protest grievances, whether CNN deems that grievance legitimate or not.

Left wing operatives have "stormed" these buildings many times over the years, and nobody claimed it was an "insurrection" in the past.

This is pure lies and fantasy.
It's a mix of both. People did go in with guns, did attack people, a bunch of officers were injured, one of whom died today, a pipe bomb was found, there was a minority of people there that were really ready for war.

But then there's the guy in Pelosi's office who apparently talked a lot of shit online about being ready to die and going to war, but just wanted to put his feet on her desk and take selfies.

And that's the scary thing, it can be really hard to tell the former from the latter.
 
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DeepEnigma

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Looks like the FBI really dropped the ball on monitoring groups who they classify as domestic terrorists.
Like they always seem to do when they want things to happen.

Well they can arrest the people who stormed the capitol building. Problem solved.

They just want to shut down any sites that allow any sort of dissent from their manufactured narrative.
Which is ironic. Klantifa/BLMs plans before they do things are all over Twitter and Facebook, and all is gravy in the left wing media world.

Treat them all the damned same.
 
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Teletraan1

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Antifa has been organizing on Facebook and Twitter for years. Time to regulate those sites as well? The best solution is to actually arrest/charge/convict people who commit crimes and put the nanny state nonsense to rest. People say a lot of shit online. It is rarely acted upon.
 

B-universe

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When certain pundits and politicians started calling the internet itself "right wing", and when they claimed people were being radicalized by YouTube...

...it was to pave the way for stuff like this. And the brainlets clap and chant Right Side Of History.

I don't know about you, but it almost feels like watching another bad Star Wars episode unfold in real time.

Yes, part of the Left seems to be either indifferent or actually cheerful at the prospect o more censorious legislation. This thread seems to suggest it. They won and the next 8 years are going to be a stroll for them, or so they think. But at least if they cannot think in terms of principled positions, can they not see one day they will lose and that same hypothetical legislation will be in place, ready to silence them?
 

DunDunDunpachi

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I don't know about you, but it almost feels like watching another bad Star Wars episode unfold in real time.

Yes, part of the Left seems to be either indifferent or actually cheerful at the prospect o more censorious legislation. This thread seems to suggest it. They won and the next 8 years are going to be a stroll for them, or so they think. But at least if they cannot think in terms of principled positions, can they not see one day they will lose and that same hypothetical legislation will be in place, ready to silence them?
Not worth worrying about. Modern lefties are characterized by their laziness. Without an Orange Satan to fixate on, they will turn to their nearest neighbor and nitpick the cultural appropriation in their sleeve tattoos. Conservatives, moderates, and anyone else deemed "unclean" by the bloc in power will probably have an easier time during the next 8 years than during the previous 4.
 
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-Minsc-

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Woo-Fu

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Can the left tell the difference between conservative and far right?
 

Musky_Cheese

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I guess I am not understanding the story here.

Every protest or gathering we’ve witnessed over the last year has used social media or forums in general to organize. Have any of them used private communication as it’s primary channel?

Everything has been in plain sight. That is how people know to watch before it even starts.
 

Amiga

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you would think there would be more security preparation than one officer with a stick.
 

Tesseract

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according to -elect biden's vision of america, these are merely ideas

there's not a whole lot to be done from this, americans are free to do whatever the fuck they want

maybe the alphabets should axe all the scrubs and hire people who actually engage complex information in real time
 

Maiden Voyage

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You know, with all these social media places taking Trump & others accounts down, I think there is less of a likelihood for legislation. It will be interesting to see how everything pans out.
 

INCUBASE

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Who is this post aimed at? I don't think it was Antifa and nearly every single Republican media outlet I frequent doesn't think it was Antifa. All I've seen from 99% of everyone is condemnation of the Republicans who were responsible for this, and they're calling for the full force of the law to be brought down on them. just as we saw with some of the riots, it's always worth considering that some 'actors' are from the opposing side. I myself did not dismiss the possibility that some radical right wing groups could easily have fired up pockets of violence here and there during the months of riots. It would be stupid not to consider it. The mainstream media seemed to make it the backbone of their commentary, at least when they had to reluctantly admit a couple of times it was not just 'peaceful protests'.

And there you are immediately blaming Trump himself for the behaviour of these Republicans who have done nothing like this for 4 years. When you support a party openly calling for Republicans to be hounded and harassed in the streets. There are dozens and dozens of examples of this and as clear as you can get. Not carefully 'suggesting' action against Republicans but blatantly and clearly calling for it. Yours is a nasty party, filled with nasty people to whom violence is second nature. 'Punch a Nazi' is your movements go to excuse for violence because the media and the Dems have managed to brainwash you into believing Trump is Hitler and his supporters are Nazis.

It wasn't Trump's doing, it was a bunch of stupid Republicans who clearly got tired of being called Nazis, being banned on social media, being demonised in the press, being harassed on the streets, being beaten and murdered and having their businesses burnt to the ground.

I won't have fascists moralising to me thank you.

Wasn't aimed at anyone, but if the shoe fits Hun xx
 
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cryptoadam

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BS article. No mention of GAF or me. Can't have an article about online right wing extremists with out CryptoAdam.

I also read thedonald and most of the post are jokes about throwing commies off helicopters etc... I didn't see much talk about storming the capital before the 6th. Lost of posters talking about going to DC fren this, pede that etc...

NPR also pushed that bogaloo boys were right wingers so ya I don't really trust them to get to the bottom or "right wing extremists" culture.