Researchers Say Radical Trump Supporters Are Using Encrypted Platforms Now That They've Been Booted From Twitter

Zack Linly
·3 min read

Since the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6., Twitter and other platforms have been purging right-wing extremistsincluding y’all’s soon-to-be-ex president—like social media was the Republican party and QAnon followers were Black people’s votes. So now, all of those white nationalist nutjobs have had to find new online spaces, according to a counter-terrorism group that said it has alerted the FBI to the online activities of crazy people who still can’t accept their cult leader’s loss in the 2020 presidential race.

NBC News reports that Telegram chatrooms—which, apparently, are safe spaces for right-wing radicals and other white supremacists to gather and be white and dangerous together—have seen an increase in traffic since the failed coup in D.C.

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From NBC:

Telegram is a Dubai-based messaging service that does little moderation of its content and has a sizable international user base, particularly in eastern Europe and the Middle East.

In the days since the Capitol attack, for example, an Army field manual and exhortations to “shoot politicians” and “encourage armed struggle” have been posted in a Telegram channel that uses “fascist” in its name.

Chris Sampson, chief of research at the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies, a defense research institute, said his group is focused on and concerned about users of the channel and has alerted the FBI about it. (The institute is run by Malcolm Nance, an NBC News terrorism analyst.)

“When they start calling for assassinations, when they start calling for action versus sharing information, we flag them a little higher,” Sampson said. “Some channels merely swap information, but then they accelerated into conversations of where to be.”

Documents that have reportedly been shared on the platform include a “U.S. Army explosives and demolitions manual,” a “U.S. Army Engineer course” and a how-to guide on radicalizing Trump supporters into neo-Nazis. (Wait, those two aren’t the same?)

On Tuesday, The Root reported that the FBI sent a memo to law enforcement agencies across the country warning that all 50 state capitols could face “armed protests” leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

FBI Warns That ‘Armed Protests’ Are Being Planned in All 50 States Ahead of Inauguration Day

According to NBC, some Trump supporters have responded to that news by using encrypted platforms to warn potential Vanilla Isis members to steer clear of small local rallies and, instead, plan for a huge turnout in D.C. on Inauguration Day.

“Do not attend armed protests at state capitols before inauguration!” one post in a Telegram chatroom read. “Possible sinister plot hatched by radical left to take away gun rights!”

More from NBC:

There are multiple Telegram channels for the right-wing group called the Proud Boys, and the largest of them have more than 28,000 members. One channel frequented by Proud Boys has been renamed to attract ex-Parler users.

“Now that they forced us off the main platforms it doesn’t mean we go away, it just means we are going to go to places they don’t see,” a user posted in the chatroom intended for refugees from Parler.

Membership in the channel has increased by more than 10,000 in recent days. In September, the chatroom had 1,365 members. On Monday, it hosted 15,990 members, said Megan Squire, professor of computer science at Elon University and a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks online extremism.

Another channel intended for Proud Boys has gained 8,870 followers, a 54 percent increase, since Jan. 6.

So basically, right-wing extremists are living by a creed: When one Twitter door closes, a platform willing to host virtual Klan rallies opens a window.

2021 is going to be another long year.