Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #987 Walkin’ the Snake at Breitbart and YouTube

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained HERE. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by the fall of 2017. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more.)

WFMU-FM is podcasting For The Record–You can subscribe to the podcast HERE.

You can subscribe to e-mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to the comments made on programs and posts–an excellent source of information in, and of, itself HERE.

This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Milo Yiannopoulos

Introduction: Continuing our long-running analysis of the realization of the Nazi methodology expressed in Serpent’s Walk, we further develop Breitbart’s achievements in that regard, as well as underscoring how YouTube has evolved in that same manner.

The back cover of Serpent’s Walk sums up the essence of the tome: ” . . . It assumes that Hitler’s warrior elite – the SS – didn’t give up their struggle for a White World when they lost the Second World War. Instead their survivors went underground and adopted some of the tactics of their enemies: they began building their economic muscle and buying into the opinion-forming media. A century after the war they are ready to challenge the democrats and Jews for the hearts and minds of White Americans, who have begun to have their fill of government-enforced multi-culturalism and ‘equality.’ . . .”

The material in this program, as well as FTR #986, should be weighed against the background of Cambridge Analytica, Mercer, Bannon and the extraordinary data mining done for Breitbart and the Trump machine by the AI mechanism employed for extracting that information.

Key to the success achieved by both Breitbart and YouTube “alt-right” personalities is networking. At Breitbart, the skillful, adroit Milo Yiannopoulos served as a point person for a coterie of white supremacists and anti-Semites while couching the views they espouse in a careful, rhetorically ambiguous manner deflective of overt criticism. At YouTube, regular personalities with their own shows and content host other, more overtly extremist guests and channel viewers to the more extreme sites through that exposure.

BuzzFeed has a long piece based on a cache of leaked emails that describe behind-the-scenes efforts at Breitbart to mainstream the “Alt Right” neo-Nazis. This story firms up analysis of Breitbart as a white nationalist publication run by neo-Nazis for the purpose of mainstreaming neo-Nazi ideals.

Those efforts primarily revolved around Milo Yiannopoulos, who is:

  1. Tasked with reaching out to “Alt Right” figures.
  2. Getting comments from them about what the “Alt Right” was all about.
  3. Then, later getting feedback from them about the planned articles before they were published.

It was clearly a group effort. Those efforts included Andrew ‘the weev’ Auernheimer, Curtis Yarvin (the founder of the “Dark Enlightenment” movement), and Devin Saucier, a neo-Nazi Yiannopoulos describes as his best friend.

Of primary interest here is the cunning exercised by Yiannopoulos, Bannon et al in parsing just what they can get away with doing and what they must avoid. Auerenheimer, for example, was excluded a Yiannopoulos podcast after being vetted by Breitbart managment.

The emails included back and forths between Yiannopoulos and Breitbart editors about whether or not the publication was getting too openly friendly with the Nazis, with Yiannopoulos being told at one point that it was fine to use a “shekels” joke but “you can’t even flirt with OKing gas chamber tweets.”

Other points of information include: Curtis Yarvin’s statement that he was “coaching” Peter Thiel on politics; How the two Yiannopoulos passwords found in the emails were “a password that began with the word Kristall”, and “LongKnives1290,” references to Kristallnacht and the Night of the Long Knives.”

Noteworthy, also, is the financial power of the Mercer interests, who have successfully rattled legal sabers against media outlets who have tarred Yiannopoulos with the racist brush.

Alt-right YouTube hosts also employ networking, inviting ideologically extreme guests to participate on their programs, presenting views more inflammatory than those normally aired on the netcasts. The extremist guests then receive a significant bump-up in traffic from their appearances.

” . . . . Below is an introduction to a few of the most prominent examples of right-wing extremists who have used YouTube to build large online followings, some with the help of better known right-wing social media personalities.

Black Pigeon Speaks

Black Pigeon Speaks (BPS) is an anonymous YouTube vlogger based in Japan with hundreds of thousands of followers. Shorenstein Center on Media fellow Zach Elexy noted that BPS’s worldview “overlaps with older ideas from many diverse movements and ideologies such as white nationalism, neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism, conservatism, classical liberalism, libertarianism, and Christian conservatism.” BPS does not outwardly identify with any particular political ideology, but frequently reiterates talking points popular among alt-right circles, such as his belief that empowered women destroy civilizations, transgender people are mentally ill, and efforts for diversity erase Western cultures. BPS distributes his videos to hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

Blonde in the Belly of the Beast

Rebecca, who does not share her last name, is a YouTuber based in Seattle who has saidthe idea that “all cultures are equal” is “garbage.” On her Patreon fundraising page, Rebecca states that she has become “increasingly hostile this last decade as I realized that feminism, Islam, Cultural Marxism and unrestricted tolerance have incrementally eroded our once great society into something unrecognizable.” On YouTube, she shares views about white identity, tells young women to abandon feminism, and makes bigoted arguments against migration in Europe. Rebecca has more than 70,000 subscribers to her channel and has been hosted by far-right superstar Stefan Molyneux, alt-right extremist Tara McCarthy, and alt-right media network Red Ice TV. She has also been promoted numerous times on white nationalist Richard Spencer’s site, AltRight.com.

Brittany Pettibone

Brittany Pettibone is a YouTube personality who refers to herself as an “American nationalist” but has expressed white nationalist views, such as that it’s “our fault” if white people become a minority race. She uses her platform to host even more unabashed white nationalists and has appeared on extremist outlets like Red Ice. Pettibone has also perpetuated “white genocide” and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theories. Although Pettibone’s personal YouTube following is modest in comparison to others listed, she has been able to recruit many popular punditsto appear on her “Virtue of the West” series, which until recently was co-hosted by openly alt-right pundit Tara McCarthy. Recently, Pettibone joined former Rebel Media reporter Lauren Southern in anti-immigrant group Defend Europe’s blundering effortto keep NGO boats full of refugees away from the European coast.

James Allsup

James Allsup is a popular YouTube personality with hundreds of thousands of subscribers who once delivered a speech at a Trump campaign rally. He was spottedalongside open white supremacists at the Unite the Right rally last month, where he told Mediaite that “white people are tired of being told by the cosmopolitan elites that we are the problem.” Allsup has used his YouTube channel to host openly white supremacist guests such as Baked Alaska, an internet troll who regularly espouses Nazi propaganda memes, to sympathize with white nationalist alt-right figure Richard Spencer, and to deliver outlandish responses to discussions about white privilege.

Millennial Woes

Colin Robertson, known online as Millennial Woes, is a Scottish video blogger who speaks openly of his alt-right identity and his concern that the white race will perish unless white people take actions to defend their culture and prevent their race from diversifying. Earlier this year, Robertson was revealed to be a jobless ex-student who lives with his father. Robertson spokeat the now-infamous conference hosted by Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute where attendees shouted “Heil Trump!” while giving Nazi salutes. He has been hosted by popular video blogger Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin, alt-right personality Tara McCarthy, white nationalist blogger Brittany Pettibone, and alt-right broadcast channel Red Ice TV. Robertson frequently spreads white supremacist ideas, such as the notion that it is “exasperating” to see white women with mixed-race children, and argues that believing in racial equality is “clearly deluding yourself.”

RamzPaul

Paul Ray Ramsey, known as RamZPaul, is an internet personality who identifies as alt-right and white nationalist, and has spoken at multipleevents hosted by the white supremacist group American Renaissance. The Southern Poverty Law center has identified Ramsey as a “smiling Nazi” because of his public affiliations with white supremacist figures such as American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer. Although Ramsey no longer claims to identify as alt-right, days before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville he posted a video claiming that white people “will not be replaced.” Ramsey was an ardent supporter of alt-right Unite the Right rally, has appeared on alt-right broadcast network Red Ice TV, and has been interviewed by NPR and BuzzFeed.

Red Ice TV (Henrik Palmgren and Lana Lokteff)

Herik Palmgren, the Swedish host of Red Ice, founded the network—which simulcasts on YouTube—in 2003 to cater to people looking for “pro-European” news. Lana Lokteff, a Russian co-host, joined the network in 2012. Red Ice TV is transparently white nationalist, with show titles like “Diversity Is a Weapon Against White People” and “The War on Whites Is Real.” The network also features openly and blatantly white supremacist guests and serves as a gateway for extremist YouTube bloggers seeking alt-right audiences.

Tara McCarthy

Tara McCarthy is a British YouTube personality who openly touts her affiliation with the white supremacist alt-right. McCarthy hosts the “Reality Calls” podcast and formerly co-hosted with Brittany Pettibone “Virtue of the West,” a show that functions both as a platform for popular YouTube pundits and a critical booster for many alt-right internet stars. McCarthy is one of the most blatant white supremacists on YouTube and often uses her platform to boost the voices of neo-Nazis, warn viewers about a “white genocide conspiracy” and advocate that women submit to subservient gender roles. McCarthy has also suggested organizing an alt-right mentorship program to help guide young men who are exploring the movement. McCarthy is frequently able to book popular right-wing personalities to appear on her channel and shared screen time with popular personalities on “Virtue of the West.”

Wife with a Purpose

Ayla, who does not publicly share her last name, advocates for “radical traditionalism” on YouTube and her blog. Her blog warns that “feminism, homosexuality, atheism, hedonism, and transgender-ism” have overshadowed the Western world’s “hard work and priorities of family and faith.” Ayla, who considers herselfan alt-right poster girl, is best known for proposing to her audience a “white baby challenge.” Ayla, who is Mormon, claimedthe Mormon church “turned it’s (sic) back on its white members” when it denounced white supremacy following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Ayla has been promoted by alt-right broadcast station Red Ice TV and right-wing blogger Brittany Pettibone.

People Who Enable The Hate

Below is an introduction to some of the most prominent right-wing social media personalities who have used the popularity of their own platforms to host people with even more extreme views, or who have appeared on platforms hosted by extremists. These figures do not regularly use their platforms to personally express particularly racist or extremist ideologies, but frequently host guests or appear on platforms that do with minimal criticism.

Sargon of Akkad

Carl Benjamin, best known as Sargon of Akkad (or “Sargon” for short), is a YouTube personality who rose to fame during the “gamergate” controversy, which ended in death threats being sent to a female video game developer. Benjamin has hundreds of thousands of followers, with whom he shares anti-SJW (social justice warrior) rhetoric, criticizing liberals who express outrage at offensive content. Benjamin considers himself a “classical liberal,” but has expressed his fascination with the racist alt-right and has shared his platform with blatantly alt-right figures.

Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux is an author and vlogger with a large following on YouTube. He is a popular figure among “red-pilled” men’s right activists (“red pilled” is a term from the sci-fi movie The Matrix that refers to recognizing the brutal realities of the world rather than living in blissful ignorance), and identifies himself as a “race realist,” a common euphemism among white supremacists. Although Molyneux’s political views are bent toward the unforgiving Right, his primary involvement in the spread of extremism is his willingness to host openly alt-rightextremists, providing these figures a big step toward online relevancy.

Roaming Millennial

Roaming Millennial (RM) is an anonymous Canadian video blogger who uses her incredibly popular YouTube channel to convey far-right talking points that straddle the line of extremism. RM’s videos have been dedicated to botched debunks of racial oppression and gender inequality, labeling social justice “cancer,” and decrying non-traditional gender identity. Although RM does not identify as alt-right, she has welcomed right-wing extremists like Tara McCarthy to appear on her channel.

Styxhexenhammer666

Tarl Warwick, or “Styx,” was an early arrival to YouTube in 2007 and now posts daily political commentary videos in which he espouses nationalistic views to his audience of more than 170,000 subscribers. Warwick is often heralded on the racist cesspool of 4chan and 8chan’s “politically incorrect” forum boards, where he says he sources his news to “break the stranglehold of the mainstream media.” Warwick has appeared on blatantly alt-right YouTube channels with Red Ice hosts and Tara McCarthy. He does not denounce ethno-nationalism, but does not claim to personally believe in a white ethno-state. Recently, Warwick has been seen boosting his profile on Infowars and Stefan Molyneux’s channel.

 1.  This program details the process of mainstreaming “Alt Right” neo-Nazis. As we has been discussed before, this has been underway at Breitbart for some time. This analysis is presented against the background of our decades-long discussion of the Nazi tract Serpent’s Walk. The back cover of that book sums up the essence of the tome: ” . . . It assumes that Hitler’s warrior elite – the SS – didn’t give up their struggle for a White world when they lost the Second World War. Instead their survivors went underground and adopted some of their tactics of their enemies: they began building their economic muscle and buying into the opinion-forming media. A century after the war they are ready to challenge the democrats and Jews for the hearts and minds of White Americans, who have begun to have their fill of government-enforced multi-culturalism and ‘equality.’ . . .”

2. BuzzFeed has a long piece based on a cache of leaked emails that describe behind-the-scenes efforts at Breitbart to mainstream the “Alt Right” neo-Nazis. This story firms up analysis of Breitbart as a white nationalist publication run by neo-Nazis for the purpose of mainstreaming neo-Nazi ideals.

Those efforts primarily revolved around Milo Yiannopoulos, who is:

  1. Tasked with reaching out to “Alt Right” figures.
  2. Getting comments from them about what the “Alt Right” was all about.
  3. Then, later getting feedback from them about the planned articles before they were published.

It was clearly a group effort. Those efforts included Andrew ‘the weev’ Auernheimer, Curtis Yarvin (the founder of the “Dark Enlightenment” movement), and Devin Saucier, a neo-Nazi Yiannopoulos describes as his best friend.

Of primary interest here is the cunning exercised by Yiannopoulos, Bannon et al in parsing just what they can get away with doing and what they must avoid. Auerenheimer, for example, was excluded a Yiannopoulos podcast after being vetted by Breitbart managment.

The emails included back and forths between Yiannopoulos and Breitbart editors about whether or not the publication was getting too openly friendly with the Nazis, with Yiannopoulos being told at one point that it was fine to use a “shekels” joke but “you can’t even flirt with OKing gas chamber tweets.”

Other points of information include: Curtis Yarvin’s  statement that he was “coaching” Peter Thiel on politics; How the two Yiannopoulos passwords found in the emails were “a password that began with the word Kristall”, and “LongKnives1290”.

“Alt-White: How The Breitbart Machine Laundered Racist Hate” by Joseph Bernstein; BuzzFeed; 10/05/2017

Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream

A cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals the truth about Steve Bannon’s alt-right “killing machine.”

In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that “there’s no room in American society” for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be “the platform for the alt-right.”

The Breitbart employee closest to the alt-right was Milo Yiannopoulos, the site’s former tech editor known best for his outrageous public provocations, such as last year’s Dangerous Faggot speaking tour and September’s canceled Free Speech Week in Berkeley. For more than a year, Yiannopoulos led the site in a coy dance around the movement’s nastier edges, writing stories that minimized the role of neo-Nazis and white nationalists while giving its politer voices a fair hearing. In March, Breitbart editor Alex Marlow insisted “we’re not a hate site.” Breitbart’s media relations staff repeatedly threatened to sue outlets that described Yiannopoulos as racist. And after the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Breitbart published an article explaining that when Bannon said the site welcomed the alt-right, he was merely referring to “computer gamers and blue-collar voters who hated the GOP brand.”

These new emails and documents, however, clearly show that Breitbart does more than tolerate the most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fueling and being fueled by some of the most toxic beliefs on the political spectrum — and clearing the way for them to enter the American mainstream.

It’s a relationship illustrated most starkly by a previously unreleased April 2016 video in which Yiannopoulos sings “America the Beautiful” in a Dallas karaoke bar as admirers, including the white nationalist Richard Spencer, raise their arms in Nazi salutes.

These documents chart the Breitbart alt-right universe. They reveal how the website — and, in particular, Yiannopoulos — links the Mercer family, the billionaires who fund Breitbart, to underpaid trolls who fill it with provocative content, and to extremists striving to create a white ethnostate.

They capture what Bannon calls his “killing machine” in action, as it dredges up the resentments of people around the world, sifts through these grievances for ideas and content, and propels them from the unsavory parts of the internet up to TrumpWorld, collecting advertisers’ checks all along the way.

And the cache of emails — some of the most newsworthy of which BuzzFeed News is now making public — expose the extent to which this machine depended on Yiannopoulos, who channeled voices both inside and outside the establishment into a clear narrative about the threat liberal discourse posed to America. The emails tell the story of Steve Bannon’s grand plan for Yiannopoulos, whom the Breitbart executive chairman transformed from a charismatic young editor into a conservative media star capable of magnetizing a new generation of reactionary anger. Often, the documents reveal, this anger came from a legion of secret sympathizers in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, academia, suburbia, and everywhere in between.

“I have said in the past that I find humor in breaking taboos and laughing at things that people tell me are forbidden to joke about,” Yiannopoulos wrote in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “But everyone who knows me also knows I’m not a racist. As someone of Jewish ancestry, I of course condemn racism in the strongest possible terms. I have stopped making jokes on these matters because I do not want any confusion on this subject. I disavow Richard Spencer and his entire sorry band of idiots. I have been and am a steadfast supporter of Jews and Israel. I disavow white nationalism and I disavow racism and I always have.”

Now Bannon is back at the controls of the machine, which he has said he is “revving up.” The Mercers have funded Yiannopoulos’s post-Breitbart venture. And these documents present the clearest look at what these people may have in store for America.

**

A year and a half ago, Milo Yiannopoulos set himself a difficult task: to define the alt-right. It was five months before Hillary Clinton named the alt-right in a campaign speech, 10 months before the alt-right’s great hope became president, and 17 months before Charlottesville clinched the alt-right as a stalking horse for violent white nationalism. The movement had just begun its explosive emergence into the country’s politics and culture.

At the time, Yiannopoulos, who would later describe himself as a fellow traveler” of the alt-right, was the tech editor of Breitbart. In summer 2015, after spending a year gathering momentum through GamerGate — the opening salvo of the new culture wars— he convinced Breitbart upper management to give him his own section. And for four months, he helped Bannon wage what the Breitbart boss called in emails to staff “#war.” It was a war, fought story by story, against the perceived forces of liberal activism on every conceivable battleground in American life.

Yiannopoulos was a useful soldier whose very public identity as a gay man (one who has now married a black man) helped defend him, his anti-political correctness crusade, and his employer from charges of bigotry.

But now Yiannopoulos had a more complicated fight on his hands. The left — and worse, some on the right — had started to condemn the new conservative energy as reactionary and racist. Yiannopoulos had to take back “alt-right,” to redefine for Breitbart’s audience a poorly understood, leaderless movement, parts of which had already started to resist the term itself.

So he reached out to key constituents, who included a neo-Nazi and a white nationalist.

“Finally doing my big feature on the alt right,” Yiannopoulos wrote in a March 9, 2016, email to Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, a hacker who is the system administrator of the neo-Nazi hub the Daily Stormer, and who would later ask his followers to disruptthe funeral of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer. “Fancy braindumping some thoughts for me.”

“It’s time for me to do my big definitive guide to the alt right,” Yiannopoulos wrote four hours later to Curtis Yarvin, a software engineer who under the nom de plume Mencius Moldbug helped create the “neoreactionary” movement, which holds that Enlightenment democracy has failed and that a return to feudalism and authoritarian rule is in order. “Which is my whorish way of asking if you have anything you’d like to make sure I include.”

“Alt r feature, figured you’d have some thoughts,” Yiannopoulos wrote the same day to Devin Saucier, who helps edit the online white nationalist magazine American Renaissance under the pseudonym Henry Wolff, and who wrote a story in June 2017 called “Why I Am (Among Other Things) a White Nationalist.”

The three responded at length: Weev about the Daily Stormer and a podcast called The Daily Shoah, Yarvin in characteristically sweeping world-historical assertions (“It’s no secret that North America contains many distinct cultural/ethnic communities. This is not optimal, but with a competent king it’s not a huge problem either”), and Saucier with a list of thinkers, politicians, journalists, films (DuneMad MaxThe Dark Knight), and musical genres (folk metal, martial industrial, ’80s synthpop) important to the movement. Yiannopoulos forwarded it all, along with the Wikipedia entries for “Alternative Right” and the esoteric far-right Italian philosopher Julius Evola — a major influence on 20th-century Italian fascists and Richard Spencer alike — to Allum Bokhari, his deputy and frequent ghostwriter, whom he had met during GamerGate. “Include a bit of everything,” he instructed Bokhari.

“I think you’ll like what I’m cooking up,” Yiannopoulos wrote to Saucier, the American Renaissance editor.

“I look forward to it,” Saucier replied. “Bannon, as you probably know, is sympathetic to much of it.”

Five days later Bokhari returned a 3,000-word draft, a taxonomy of the movement titled “ALT-RIGHT BEHEMOTH.” It included a little bit of everything: the brains and their influences (Yarvin and Evola, etc.), the “natural conservatives” (people who think different ethnic groups should stay separate for scientific reasons), the “Meme team” (4chan and 8chan), and the actual hatemongers. Of the last group, Bokhari wrote: “There’s just not very many of them, no-one really likes them, and they’re unlikely to achieve anything significant in the alt-right.”

“Magnificent start,” Yiannopoulos responded.

Over the next three days, Yiannopoulos passed the article back to Yarvin and the white nationalist Saucier, the latter of whom gave line-by-line annotations. He also sent it to Vox Day, a writer who was expelled from the board of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for calling a black writer an “ignorant savage,” and to Alex Marlow, the editor of Breitbart.

“Solid, fair, and fairly comprehensive,” Vox Day responded, with a few suggestions.

“Most of it is great but I don’t want to rush a major long form piece like this,” Marlow wrote back. “A few people will need to weigh in since it deals heavily with race.”

Also, there was another sensitive issue to be raised: credit. “Allum did most of the work on this and wants joint [byline] but I want the glory here,” Yiannopoulos wrote back to Marlow. “I am telling him you said it’s sensitive and want my byline alone on it.”

Minutes later, Yiannopoulos emailed Bokhari. “I was going to have Marlow collude with me … about the byline on the alt right thing because I want to take it solo. Will you hate me too much if I do that? … Truthfully management is very edgy on this one (They love it but it’s racially charged) and they would prefer it.”

“Will management definitely say no if it’s both of us?” Bokhari responded. “I think it actually lowers the risk if someone with a brown-sounding name shares the BL.”

Five days later, March 22nd, Marlow returned with comments. He suggested that the story should show in more detail how Yiannopoulos and most of the alt-right rejected the actual neo-Nazis in the movement. And he added that Taki’s Magazine and VDare, two publications Yiannopoulos and Bokhari identified as part of the alt-right, “are both racist. … We should disclaimer that or strike that part of the history from the article.” (The published story added, in the passive voice, “All of these websites have been accused of racism.”) Again the story went back to Bokhari, who on the 24th sent Yiannopoulos still another draft, with the subject head “ALT RIGHT, MEIN FUHRER.”

On the 27th, now co-bylined, the story was ready for upper management: Bannon and Larry Solov, Breitbart’s press-shy CEO. It was also ready, on a separate email chain, for another read and round of comments from the white nationalist Saucier, the feudalist Yarvin, the neo-Nazi Weev, and Vox Day.

“I need to go thru this tomorrow in depth…although I do appreciate any piece that mentions evola,” Bannon wrote. On the 29th, in an email titled “steve wants you to read this,” Marlow sent Yiannopoulos a list of edits and notes Bannon had solicited from James Pinkerton, a former Reagan and George H.W. Bush staffer and a contributing editor of the American Conservative. The 59-year-old Pinkerton was put off by a cartoon of Pepe the Frog conducting the Trump Train.

“I love art,” he wrote inline. “I think [Breitbart News Network] needs a lot more of it, but I don’t get the above. Frogs? Kermit? Am I missing something here?”

Later that day, Breitbart published “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” It quickly became a touchstone, cited in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, CNN, and New York Magazine, among others. And its influence is still being felt. This past July, in a speech in Warsaw that was celebrated by the alt-right, President Trump echoed a line from the story — a story written by a “brown-sounding” amanuensis, all but line-edited by a white nationalist, laundered for racism by Breitbart’s editors, and supervised by the man who would in short order become the president’s chief strategist.

The machine had worked well. . . .

 

. . . . On July 22, 2016, Rebekah Mercer — Robert’s powerful daughter — emailed Steve Bannon from her Stanford alumni account. She wanted the Breitbart executive chairman, whom she introduced as “one of the greatest living defenders of Liberty,” to meet an app developer she knew. Apple had rejected the man’s game (Capitol HillAwry, in which players delete emails à la Hillary Clinton) from the App Store, and the younger Mercer wondered “if we could put an article up detailing his 1st amendment political persecution.”

Bannon passed the request from Mercer to Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos passed it to Charlie Nash, an 18-year-old Englishman whom he had met at a conference of the populist right-wing UK Independence Party conference the previous year, and who started working as his intern immediately after. Like some bleach-blonde messiah of anti–political correctness, Yiannopoulos tended to draw in ideologically sympathetic young men at conferences, campus speeches, and on social media, accumulating more and more acolytes as he went along.

In June 2015 it was Ben Kew, who invited Yiannopoulos to speak at the University of Bristol, where he was a student; he’s now a staff writer for Breitbart. In September 2015 it was Tom Ciccotta, the treasurer of the class of 2017 at Bucknell University, who still writes for Breitbart. In February 2016 it was Hunter Swogger, a University of Michigan student and then the editor of the conservative Michigan Review, whom Yiannopoulos cultivated and brought on as a social media specialist during his Dangerous Faggot tour. Yiannopoulos called these young researchers his “trufflehounds.”

Nash, who had just been hired by Breitbart at $30,000 a year after months of lobbying by Yiannopoulos, dutifully fielded the request from the billionaire indirectly paying his salary and turned around a story about the rejected Capitol HillAwry app on the 25th — and a follow-up five days later after Apple reversed its decision.

“Huge victory,” Bannon emailed after the reversal. “Huge win.”

This was the usual way stories came in from the Mercers, according to a former Breitbart editor: with a request from Bannon referring to “our investors” or “our investing partners.”

After Cannes, as Bannon pushed Yiannopoulos to do more live events that presented expensive logistical challenges, the involvement of the investing partners became increasingly obvious. Following a May event at DePaul University in Chicago in which Black Lives Matter protesters stormed a Yiannopoulos speech, he wrote to Bannon, “I wouldn’t confess this to anyone publicly, of course, but I was worried … last night that I was going to get punched or worse. … I need one or two people of my own.”

“Agree 100%,” Bannon wrote. “We want you to stir up more. Milo: for your eyes only we r going to use the mercers private security company.”

Copied on the email was Dan Fleuette, Bannon’s coproducer at Glittering Steel and the man who acted for months as the go-between for Yiannopoulos and the Mercers. As Yiannopoulos made the transition in summer 2016 from being a writer to becoming largely the star of a traveling stage show, Fleuette was enlisted to process and wrangle the legion of young assistants, managers, trainers, and other talent the Breitbart tech editor demanded be brought along for the ride.

First came Tim Gionet, the former BuzzFeed social media strategist who goes by “Baked Alaska” on Twitter, whom Yiannopoulos pitched to Fleuette as a tour manager in late May. Gionet accompanied Yiannopoulos to Florida after the June 2016 Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando. The two planned a press conference outside a mosque attended by the shooter, Omar Mateen. (“Brilliant,” Bannon emailed. “Btw they are ALL ‘factories of hate.’”) But after some impertinent tweets and back talk from Gionet, Fleuette became Yiannopoulos’s managerial confidante.

“He needs to understand that ‘Baked Alaska’ is over,” Yiannopoulos wrote in one email to Fleuette. “He is not a friend he is an employee. … He is becoming a laughing stock and that reflects badly on me.” In another, “I think we need to replace Tim. … [He] has no news judgment or understanding of what’s dangerous (thinks tweets about Jews are just fine). … He seems more interested in his career as an obscure Twitter personality than my tour manager.”

At the Republican National Convention, Yiannopoulos deliberately chose a hotel for Gionet far from the convention center, writing to another Breitbart employee, “Exactly where I want him. … He needs the commute to remind him of his place.”

Gionet did not respond to multiple requests by BuzzFeed News for comment.

But Gionet, who would go on to march with the alt-right in Charlottesville, was still useful to Yiannopoulos as a gateway to a group of young, hip, social media–savvy Trump supporters.

Yiannopoulos managed all of his assistants and ghostwriters under his own umbrella, using “yiannopoulos.net” emails and private Slack rooms. This structure insulated Breitbart’s upper management from the 4chan savants and GamerGate vets working for Yiannopoulos. And it gave Yiannopoulos a staff loyal to him above Breitbart. (Indeed, Yiannopoulos shopped a separate “Team Milo” section to Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, in July 2016.)

It also sometimes led to extraordinarily fraught organizational and personal dynamics. Take Allum Bokhari, the Oxford-educated former political consultant whom Yiannopoulos rewarded for his years of grunt work with a $100,000 ghostwriting contract for his book Dangerous.

But the men were spying on each other.

In April 2016, Yiannopoulos asked Bokhari for “a complete list of the email, social media, bank accounts, and any other system and services of mine you have been accessing, and how long you’ve had access.” Bokhari confessed to having logged into Yiannopoulos’s email and Slack, and had used Yiannopoulos’s credit card for an Airbnb, a confession Yiannopoulos quickly passed on to Larry Solov, the Breitbart CEO.

“My basic position is that he is not stable and needs to be far away from me,” Yiannopoulos wrote to Marlow and Solov.

Meanwhile, Yiannopoulos had compiled a transcript of what he called “a short section of 30 hours of recording down on paper,” which appeared to be of conversations between Bokhari and a friend.

The newcomers brought in by Gionet weren’t much better behaved. Yiannopoulos had to boot one prospective member of his “tour squad” for posting cocaine use on Snapchat. Mike Mahoney, a then–20-year-old from North Carolina, had to be monitored because of his propensity for racism and anti-Semitism on social media. (Mahoney was later banned from Twitter, but he’s relocated to Gab, a free speech uber alles social network where he is free to post messages such as “reminder: muslims are fags.”)

“Let me know if there’s anything specific that’s really bad eg any Jew stuff,” Yiannopoulos wrote of Mahoney in an email to another member of his staff. “His entire Twitter persona will have to change dramatically once he gets the job.” On September 11, 2016, Mahoney signed a $2,500-a-month contract with Glittering Steel.

As the Dangerous Faggot tour swung into gear, Yiannopoulos grew increasingly hostile toward Fleuette, whom he excoriated for late payments to his young crew, lack of support, and disorganization. “The entire tour staff is demanding money,” Yiannopoulos wrote in one email to Fleuette in October. “No one knows or cares who Glittering Steel is but this represents a significantly damaging risk to my reputation if it gets out.” And in another, “Your problem right now is keeping me happy.”

Yet ultimately Fleuette was necessary — he connected Yiannopoulos’s madcap world and the massively rich people funding the machine.

“I think you know who the final decision belongs to,” Fleuette wrote to Yiannopoulos after one particularly frantic request for money. “I am in daily communication with them.”

**

Yiannopoulos’s star rose throughout 2016 thanks to a succession of controversial public appearances, social media conflagrations, Breitbart radio spots, television hits, and magazine profiles. Bannon’s guidance, the Mercers’ patronage, and the creative energy of his young staff had come together at exactly the time Donald Trump turned offensive speech into a defining issue in American culture. And for thousands of people, Yiannopoulos, Breitbart’s poster child for offensive speech, became a secret champion.

Aggrieved by the encroachment of so-called cultural Marxism into American public life, and egged on by an endless stream of stories on Fox News about safe spaces and racially charged campus confrontations, a diverse group of Americans took to Yiannopoulos’s inbox to thank him and to confess their fears about the future of the country.

And some of these disgruntled tech workers reached beyond the rank and file. Vivek Wadhwa, a prominent entrepreneur and academic, reached out repeatedly to Yiannopoulos with stories of what he considered out-of-control political correctness. First it was about a boycott campaign against a Kickstarter with connections to GamerGate. (“These people are truly crazy and destructive. … What horrible people,” wrote Wadwha of the campaigners.) Then it was about Y-Combinator cofounder Paul Graham; Wadwha felt Graham was being unfairly targeted for an essay he wrote about gender inequality in tech.

“Political correctness has gone too far,” Wadhwa wrote. “The alternative is communism — not equality. And that is a failed system…” Yiannopoulos passed Wadhwa’s email to Bokhari, who promptly ghostwrote a story for Breitbart, “Social Justice Warrior Knives Out For Startup Guru Paul Graham.”

Wadwha told BuzzFeed News that he no longer supports Yiannopoulos.

Yiannopoulos also had a private relationship with the venture capitalist Peter Thiel, though he was more circumspect than some other correspondents. After turning down an appearance on Yiannopoulos’s podcast in May 2016 (Thiel: “Let’s just get coffee and take things from there”), Thiel invited the Breitbart tech editor for dinner at his Hollywood Hills home in June, a dinner Yiannopoulos boasted of the same night to Bannon: “You two should meet. … An obvious candidate for movie financing if we got external. … He has fuc ked [Gawker Media founder Nick] Denton & Gawker so many ways it brought a tear to my eye.” They made plans to meet during the July Republican National Convention. But much of Yiannopoulos’s knowledge of Thiel seemed to come secondhand from other right-wing activists, as well as Curtis Yarvin, the blogger who advocates the return of feudalism. In an email exchange shortly after the election, Yarvin told Yiannopoulos that he had been “coaching Thiel.”

“Peter needs guidance on politics for sure,” Yiannopoulos responded.

“Less than you might think!” Yarvin wrote back. “I watched the election at his house, I think my hangover lasted into Tuesday. He’s fully enlightened, just plays it very carefully.”

And Yiannopoulos vented privately after Thiel spoke at the RNC — an opportunity the younger man had craved. “No gays rule doesn’t apply to Thiel apparently,” he wrote to a prominent Republican operative in July 2016.

Thiel declined to comment for the story.

In addition to tech and entertainment, Yiannopoulos had hidden helpers in the liberal media against which he and Bannon fought so uncompromisingly. A long-running email group devoted to mocking stories about the social justice internet included, predictably, Yiannopoulos’s friend Ann Coulter, but also Mitchell Sunderland, a senior staff writer at Broadly, Vice’s women’s channel. According to its “About” page, Broadly “is devoted to representing the multiplicity of women’s experiences. … we provide a sustained focus on the issues that matter most to women.”

“Please mock this fat feminist,” Sunderland wrote to Yiannopoulos in May 2016, along with a link to an article by the New York Times columnist Lindy West, who frequently writes about fat acceptance. And while Sunderland was Broadly’s managing editor, he sent a Broadly video about the Satanic Temple and abortion rights to Tim Gionet with instructions to “do whatever with this on Breitbart. It’s insane.” The next day, Breitbart published an article titled “Satanic Temple’ Joins Planned Parenthood in Pro-Abortion Crusade.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Vice spokesperson wrote, “We are shocked and disappointed by this highly inappropriate and unprofessional conduct. We just learned about this and have begun a formal review into the matter.”

(A day after this story was published, Vice fired Mitchell Sunderland, according to a company spokesperson.)

For nearly a decade, Devin Saucier has been establishing himself as one of the bright young things in American white nationalism. In 2008, while at Vanderbilt University, Saucier founded a chapter of the defunct white nationalist student group Youth for Western Civilization,, which counts among its alumni the white nationalist leader Matthew Heimbach. Richard Spencer called him a friend. He is associated with the Wolves of Vinland, a Virginia neo-pagan group that one reporter described as a “white power wolf cult,” one member of which pleaded guilty to setting fire to a historic black church. For the past several years, according to an observer of far-right movements, Saucier has worked as an assistant to Jared Taylor, possibly the most prominent white nationalist in America. According to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News, he edits and writes for Taylor’s magazine, American Renaissance, under a pseudonym.

In an October 2016 email, Milo Yiannopoulos described the 28-year-old Saucier as “my best friend.”

Yiannopoulos may have been exaggerating: He was asking his acquaintance the novelist Bret Easton Ellis for a signed copy of American Psycho as a gift for Saucier. But there’s no question the men were close. After a March 2016 dinner together in Georgetown, they kept up a steady correspondence, thrilling over Brexit, approvingly sharing headlines about a Finnish far-right group called “Soldiers of Odin,” and making plans to attend Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Kennedy Center.

Saucier — who did not respond to numerous requests for comment — clearly illustrates the direct connection between open white nationalists and their fellow travelers at Breitbart. By spring 2016, Yiannopoulos had begun to use him as a sounding board, intellectual guide, and editor. On May 1, Yiannopoulos emailed Saucier asking for readings related to class-based affirmative action; Saucier responded with a half dozen links on the subject, which American Renaissance often covers. On May 3, Saucier sent Yiannopoulos an email titled “Article idea”: “How trolls could win the general for Trump.” Yiannopoulos forwarded the email to Bokhari and wrote, “Drop what you’re doing and draft this for me.” An article under Yiannopoulos’s byline appeared the next day. Also in early May, Saucier advised Yiannopoulos and put him in touch with a source for a story about the alt-right’s obsession with Taylor Swift.

Saucier also seems to have had enough clout with Yiannopoulos to get him to kill a story. On May 9, the Breitbart tech editor sent Saucier a full draft of the class-based affirmative action story. “This really isn’t good,” Saucier wrote back, along with a complex explanation of how “true class-based affirmative action” would cause “black enrollment at all decent colleges” to be “decimated.” The next day, Yiannopoulos wrote back, “I feel suitably admonished,” with another draft. In response, after speculating that Yiannopoulos was trying to “soft pedal” racial differences in intelligence, Saucier wrote, “I would honestly spike this piece.” The story never ran.

At other times, though, Yiannopoulos’s writing delighted the young white nationalist. On June 20, Yiannopoulos sent Saucier a link to his story “Milo On Why Britain Should Leave The EU — To Stop Muslim Immigration.” “Nice work,” Saucier responded. “I especially like the references to European identity and the Western greats.” On June 25, Yiannopoulos sent Saucier a copy of an analysis, “Brexit: Why The Globalists Lost.”

“Subtle truth bomb,” Saucier responded via email to the sentence “Britain, like Israel and other high-IQ, high-skilled economies, will thrive on its own.” (IQ differences among races are a fixation of American Renaissance.)

“I’m easing everyone in gently,” Yiannopoulos responded.

“Probably beats my ‘bite the pillow, I’m going in dry’ strategy,” Saucier wrote back.

On occasion Yiannopoulos didn’t ease his masters at Breitbart in gently enough. Frequently, Alex Marlow’s job editing him came down to rejecting anti-Semitic and racist ideas and jokes. In April 2016, Yiannopoulos tried to secure approval for the neo-Nazi hacker “Weev” Auernheimer, the system administrator for the Daily Stormer, to appear on his podcast.

“Great provocative guest,” Yiannopoulos wrote. “He’s one of the funniest, smartest and most interesting people I know. … Very on brand for me.”

“Gotta think about it,” Marlow wrote back. “He’s a legit racist. … This is a major strategic decision for this company and as of now I’m leaning against it.” (Weev never appeared on the podcast.)

Editing a September 2016 Yiannopoulos speech, Marlow approved a joke about “shekels” but added that “you can’t even flirt with OKing gas chamber tweets,” asking for such a line to be removed. Marlow held a story about Twitter banning a prominent — frequently anti-Semitic and anti-black — alt-right account, “Ricky Vaughn.” And in August 2016, Bokhari sent Marlow a draft of a story titled “The Alt Right Isn’t White Supremacist, It’s Western Supremacist,” which Marlow held, explaining, “I don’t want to even flirt with okay-ing Nazi memes.”

“We have found his limit,” Yiannopoulos wrote back.

Indeed, a major part of Yiannopoulos’s role within Breitbart was aggressively testing limits around racial and anti-Semitic discourse. As far as this went, his opaque organization-with-an-organization structure and crowdsourced ideation and writing processes served Breitbart’s purposes perfectly: They offered upper management a veil of plausible deniability — as long as no one saw the emails BuzzFeed News obtained. In August 2016, a Yiannopoulos staffer sent a “Milo” story by Bokhari directly to Bannon and Marlow for approval.

“Please don’t forward chains like that showing the sausage being made,” Yiannopoulos wrote back. “Everyone knows; but they don’t have to be reminded every time.”

By Yiannopoulos’s own admission, maintaining a sufficiently believable distance from overt racists and white nationalists was crucial to the machine he had helped Bannon build. As his profile rose, he attracted hordes of blazingly racist social media followers — the kind of people who harassed the black Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones so severely on Twitter that the platform banned Yiannopoulos for encouraging them.

“Protip on handling the endless tide of 1488 scum,” Curtis Yarvin, the neoreactionary thinker, wrote to Yiannopoulos in November 2015. (“1488” is a ubiquitous white supremacist slogan; “88” stands for “Heil Hitler.”) “Deal with them the way some perfectly tailored high-communist NYT reporter handles a herd of greasy anarchist hippies. Patronizing contempt. Your heart is in the right place, young lady, now get a shower and shave those pits. The liberal doesn’t purge the communist because he hates communism, he purges the communist because the communist is a public embarrassment to him. … It’s not that he sees enemies to the left, just that he sees losers to the left, and losers rub off.”

“Thanks re 1488,” Yiannopoulos responded. “I have been struggling with this. I need to stay, if not clean, then clean enough.”

He had help staying clean. It came in the form of a media relations apparatus that issued immediate and vehement threats of legal action against outlets that described Yiannopoulos as a racist or a white nationalist.

“Milo is NOT a white nationalist, nor a member of the alt right,” Jenny Kefauver, a senior account executive at CapitalHQ, Breitbart’s press shop, wrote to the Seattle CBS affiliate after a story following the shooting of an anti-Trump protester at a Yiannopoulos speech. “Milo has always denounced them and you offer no proof that he is associated with them. Please issue a correction before we explore additional options to correct this error immediately.”

Over 2016 and early 2017, CapitalHQ, and often Yiannopoulos personally, issued such demands against the Los Angeles Times, The Forward, Business Insider, Glamour, Fusion, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and CNN. The resulting retractions or corrections — or refusals — even spawned anewcategory of Breitbartstory.

Of course, it’s unlikely that any of these journalists or editors could have known about Yiannopoulos’s relationship with Saucier, about his attempts to defend gas chamber jokes in Breitbart, or about how he tried to put Weev on his podcast.

Nor could they have known about the night of April 2, 2016, which Yiannopoulos spent at the One Nostalgia Tavern in Dallas, belting out a karaoke rendition of “America the Beautiful” in front of a crowd of “sieg heil”-ing admirers, including Richard Spencer.

Saucier can be seen in the video filming the performance. The same night, he and Spencer did a duet of Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” in front of a beaming Yiannopoulos.

And there was no way the journalists threatened with lawsuits for calling Yiannopoulos a racist could have known about his passwords.

In an April 6 email, Allum Bokhari mentioned having had access to an account of Yiannopoulos’s with “a password that began with the word Kristall.” Kristallnacht, an infamous 1938 riot against German Jews carried out by the SA — the paramilitary organization that helped Hitler rise to power — is sometimes considered the beginning of the Holocaust. In a June 2016 email to an assistant, Yiannopoulos shared the password to his email, which began “LongKnives1290.” The Night of the Long Knives was the Nazi purge of the leadership of the SA. The purge famously included Ernst Röhm, the SA’s gay leader. 1290 is the year King Edward I expelled the Jews from England.

**

Early in the morning of August 17, 2016, as news began to break that Steve Bannon would leave Breitbart to run the Trump campaign, Milo Yiannopoulos emailed the man who had turned him into a star.

“Congrats chief,” he wrote.

“u mean ‘condolences,’” Bannon wrote back.

“I admire your sense of duty (seriously).”

“u get it.”

In the month after the convention, Yiannopoulos and Bannon continued to work closely. Bannon and Marlow encouraged a barrage of stories about Yiannopoulos’s late July ban from Twitter. Bannon and Yiannopoulos worked to distance themselves from Charles Johnson’s plans to sue Twitter. (“Charles is PR poison,” Yiannopoulos wrote. “Charles is well intentioned–but he is wack,” Bannon responded.) And the two went back and forth over how hard to hit Paul Ryan in an August story defending the alt-right. (“Only the headline mocks him correct,” Bannon wrote. “We never actually say he is a cuck in the body of the piece?”)

But once Bannon left Breitbart, his email correspondence with Yiannopoulos dried up, with a few exceptions. On August 25, after Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech, Yiannopoulos emailed Bannon, “I’ve never laughed so hard.”

Still, as the campaign progressed into the fall, there were clues that Bannon continued to run aspects of Breitbart and guide the career of his burgeoning alt-right star. On September 1, Bannon forwarded Yiannopoulos a story about a new Rutgers speech code; Yiannopoulos forwarded it to Bokhari and asked for a story. On the 3rd, Bannon emailed to tell Yiannopoulos he was “trying to set up DJT interview.” (The interview with Trump never happened.) And on September 11, Bannon introduced Yiannopoulos over email to the digital strategist and Trump supporter Oz Sultan and instructed the men to meet.

There were also signs that Bannon was using his proximity to the Republican nominee to promote the culture war pet causes that he and Yiannopoulos shared. On October 13, Saucier emailed Yiannopoulos a tweet from the white nationalist leader Nathan Damigo, who went on to punch a woman in the face at a Berkeley rally in April of this year and led marchers in Charlottesville: “@realDonaldTrump just said he would protect free speech on college campus.”

“He used phrases extremely close to what I say — Bannon is feeding him,” Yiannopoulos responded.

Yet, by the early days of the Trump presidency — and as the harder and more explicitly bigoted elements within the alt-right fought to reclaim the term — Bannon had clearly established a formal distance from Yiannopoulos. On February 14, Yiannopoulos, who months earlier had worked hand in glove with Bannon, asked their mutual PR rep for help reaching him. “Here’s the book manuscript, to be kept confidential of course… still hoping for a Bannon or Don Jr or Ivanka endorsement!”

The next week, video appeared in which Yiannopoulos appeared to condone pedophilia. He resigned from Breitbart under pressure two days later, but not before his attorney beseeched Solov and Marlow to keep him.

“We implore you not to discard this rising star over a 13 month old video that we all know does not reflect his true views,” the lawyer wrote.

Bannon, ensconced in the chaotic Trump White House, didn’t comment, nor did he reach out to Yiannopoulos on his main email. But the machine wasn’t broken, just running quietly. And it wouldn’t jettison such a valuable component altogether, even after seeming to endorse pedophilia.

After firing Yiannopoulos, Marlow accompanied him to the Mercers’ Palm Beach home to discuss a new venture: MILO INC. On February 27, not quite two weeks after the scandal erupted, Yiannopoulos received an email from a woman who described herself as “Robert Mercer’s accountant.” “We will be sending a wire payment today,” she wrote. Later that day, in an email to the accountant and Robert Mercer, Yiannopoulos personally thanked his patron. And as Yiannopoulos prepared to publish his book, he stayed close enough to Rebekah Mercer to ask her by text for a recommendation when he needed a periodontist in New York.

Since Bannon left the White House, there have been signs that the two men may be collaborating again. On August 18, Yiannopoulos posted to Instagram a black-and-white photo of Bannon with the caption “Winter is Coming.” Though he ultimately didn’t show, Bannon was originally scheduled to speak at Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week at UC Berkeley. (The event, which was supposed to feature an all-star lineup of far-right personalities, was canceled last month, reportedly after the student group sponsoring it failed to fill out necessary paperwork.) And Yiannopoulos has told those close to him that he expects to be back at Breitbart soon.

Steve Bannon’s actions are often analyzed through the lens of his professed ideology, that of an anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, anti-“Globalist” crusader bent on destroying prevailing liberal ideas about immigration, diversity, and economics. To be sure, much of that comes through in the documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The “Camp of the Saints” Bannon is there, demanding Yiannopoulos change “refugee” to “migrant” in a February 2016 story, speaking of the #war for the West.

Still, it is less often we think about Bannon simply as a media executive in charge of a private company. Any successful media executive produces content to expand audience size. The Breitbart alt-right machine, embodied by Milo Yiannopoulos, may read most clearly in this context. It was a brilliant audience expansion machine, financed by billionaires, designed to draw in people disgusted by some combination of identity politics, Muslim and Hispanic immigration, and the idea of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the White House. And if expanding that audience meant involving white nationalists and neo-Nazis, their participation could always be laundered to hide their contributions. . . .

3. Following up on that massive BuzzFeed piece about how Breitbart actively worked with ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis like Andrew ‘the weev’ Auernheimer and Curtis Yarvin for the purpose of mainstreaming their ideas, Right Wing Watch has a new piece on a similar phenomena, where far right personality get mainstreamed by ostensibly ‘mainstream’ conservatives, taking place on one of the biggest new mediums on the planet: YouTube:

“White Supremacy Figured Out How To Become YouTube Famous” by Jared Holt; Right Wing Watch; 10/2017

YouTube is home to a seemingly endless variety of videos that reach all kinds of viewers and is creeping up on TV as the most watched video platform in the United StatesBut as John Herrman documentedin The New York Times Magazine last month, political punditry on YouTube is vastly dominated by right-wing talkers. Some of the site’s notable right-wing political stars include the always-camera-ready men and women at the Infowars studio, frequently-shirtless 4chan muse StyxHexxenHammer666, and elaborate cosplay cartoon character “Mr. Dapperton.” Although these figures differ vastly in format and tone, their messages are aligned exclusively toward the hard, uncompromising Right, and have been increasingly influenced by their even more extremist counterparts on YouTube.

Shorenstein Center on Media fellow Zach Elexy noted in a case study of YouTube commentator Black Pigeon Speaks that in the same way that “liberals, scholars and pundits have failed to give talk radio—which is almost wholly conservative—its due,” those same observers “stand to miss a new platform that, so far, is also dominated by the right wing.” Far-right YouTube personalities are largely aware that they are at the epicenter of political talk on the platform, and openly gloat about their dominance.

As a platform, YouTube has served as an alternative media ecosystem apart from the mainstream where any person can contribute to national conversation and reach thousands of people overnight. But the Right’s overt domination of the platform, in addition to political forums on Reddit and 4chan, has created an environment where white nationalists and right-wing extremists can easily inject hateful rhetoric and conspiracy theories into national political discourse by positioning themselves alongside less overtly hateful rising right-wing media personalities.

These extremists roleplay as modern-day shock-jock radio hosts as they insert their sexist, racist, bigoted rhetoric—which they excuse by saying they are trying to “trigger” liberals and fight for “free speech”—into the existing stream of right-wing commentary on YouTube. By successfully identifying how right-wing e-celebrities operate and collaborate in the YouTube ecosystem, white nationalists and white supremacists have cracked the code to achieving YouTube success and getting their ideas validated by more popular internet figures, and therefore have emboldened the political base they represent and recruited new audiences.

The punditry faction of YouTube, much like cable news, thrives on collaboration and guest appearances on other pundits’ channels. These right-wing YouTube commentators believe that by bolstering one another they can break through “fake news” mainstream media narratives and spread their own flavor of political analysis. The most extreme of these commentators will identify YouTube pundits slightly closer to center-Right than them, and appear on their programs to share their viewpoints. They then use this access to a larger platform to recruit more people to their own pages, where they espouse extremist views with even less restraint.

In practice, this means that some of the most popular right-wing social media pundits have validated white supremacists and ethno-nationalist voices by joining these extremists on their programs and allowing them to grow their audiences. And as a result, those voices have quickly recruited a radicalized following and felt emboldened to take their ideologies offline. The nation saw this dynamic play out with tragic results earlier this year, when alt-right activists who had organized online converged on Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally that ended in the death of a counter-protester.

On YouTube, major right-wing internet personalities such as self-described “New Right journalist” and social media personality Mike Cernovich and Lauren Southern, a former reporter for Rebel Media, a news site that has acted as an alt-right safe space, validate lesser known extremists by promoting them with their platforms, which reach millions of people every month and routinely earn exposure from mainstream press. Although these two are now attempting to break away from their prior affiliations with the alt-right, they have used their YouTube platforms to validate and share ideas with openly alt-right pundits like Tara McCarthy, who believes a globalist agenda is underway to undermine white people.

In May, Cernovich appeared on right-wing YouTuber Brittani Pettibone’s “Virtue of the West” podcast, which is dedicated to discussing the white nationalist ideology of a virtuous Western world under attack by a liberal agenda. Cernovich’s appearance effectively endorsed the legitimacy of Pettibone and her former co-host McCarthy to Cernovich’s much larger audience and exposed potential new fans to the duo, who openly express much more extremist views than Cernovich does.

This trickle-down effect is not limited to Cernovich. Many other prominent right-wing social media personalities have appeared on programs like “Virtue of the West.” For example, video blogger Tarl Warwick, who is heralded on 4chan and promoted by major video bloggers like Paul Joseph Watson, has guided his audience to openly alt-right media platforms such as Red Ice. Digital pundit Carl Benjamin, known best as “Sargon of Akkad,” has exposed his regular audience of hundreds of thousands of viewers to white nationalists and their hateful ideologies.

This trickle-down exposure effect is a characteristic of all media, but the lack of a gatekeeper on social media has allowed unchecked extremists like McCarthy to harness the power granted by voices such as Cernovich to elevate openly white supremacist alt-right ideologies. Soon after McCarthy scored an interview with Cernovich, she treated her followers to a conversation with Andrew Anglin and Greg Johnson of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. (McCarthy’s interview with Anglin and Johnson was later removed from YouTube and re-uploadedoff-site.)

Cernovich’s appearance on “Virtue of the West” is not an isolated event. Every day, all across YouTube, popular pundits with large audiences and connections to those in power are engaging with, promoting and validating extremist YouTube personalities who seek to radicalize their audiences. and promote extreme right-wing politics.

Tensions Rise, Bloggers Flee As YouTube’s Efforts To Combat Extremism Begin

YouTube has been criticized for designing algorithms that are, as The Guardian reported, “drawing viewers into ever more extreme content, recommending a succession of videos that can quickly take them into dark corners of the internet,” and has been toying with remedies that can effectively isolate extremist and terroristic content without censoring speech on the site.

In early August, YouTube announced it would no longer allow videos on its site that were flagged for “controversial religious or supremacist content” to earn ad revenue and rack up views from the platform’s “recommended videos” feature. Since that announcement, conspiracy theorists, alt-right activists and “new right” internet pundits have expressed outrage.

Videos these social media pundits created that meet YouTube’s criteria for extremism have been placed in a “limited state,” where they exist in a purgatory space without advertising or video recommendations, meaning only a direct link will bring viewers to the video and that the content creator earns no revenue. YouTube’s action served to accomplish two things: It removed financial incentives for these personalities to cater to extremists, and it helped curb a rabbit-hole effect in which the site’s algorithms recommended increasingly more extremist content to otherwise mainstream right-wing audiences and resulted in right-wing extremist YouTube stars receiving otherwise unearned exposure.

Leaders of the right-wing political YouTube universe criticized the policy in a myriad of ways, even likening it to Nazism. In a post announcing a national protest against Google (which was later cancelled), right-wing troll Jack Posobiec claimed YouTube was “censoring and silencing dissenting voices by creating ‘ghettos’ for videos questioning the dominant narrative.” Right-wing vlogger Tarl Warwick claimed that the new “suppression feature” would be counter-productive to YouTube’s goals. Infowars editors Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson gloated that they reach millions of viewers and have made YouTube a “right-wing safe space” and that YouTube implemented the new policy because they “realized they were losing.”

Now, extremists and white supremacists ensnared by YouTube’s new policy are threatening to leave YouTube and have begun hosting their videos on alternative sites such as VidMe and BitChute. The migration to video platforms friendly to the alt-right is similar to an alt-right push last year to ditch Twitter and join “Gab.ai” after Twitter banned many white supremacist accounts. These extremist YouTube stars have asked their followers to join them on these new platforms and send them money on Patreon (and alt-right alternative Hatereon) to replace the revenue they were previously earning from YouTube advertising. But as Business Insider reported, this effort has been so-far unsuccessful.

The Extremists Using YouTube To Get Famous

Below is an introduction to a few of the most prominent examples of right-wing extremists who have used YouTube to build large online followings, some with the help of better known right-wing social media personalities.

Black Pigeon Speaks

Black Pigeon Speaks (BPS) is an anonymous YouTube vlogger based in Japan with hundreds of thousands of followers. Shorenstein Center on Media fellow Zach Elexy noted that BPS’s worldview “overlaps with older ideas from many diverse movements and ideologies such as white nationalism, neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism, conservatism, classical liberalism, libertarianism, and Christian conservatism.” BPS does not outwardly identify with any particular political ideology, but frequently reiterates talking points popular among alt-right circles, such as his belief that empowered women destroy civilizations, transgender people are mentally ill, and efforts for diversity erase Western cultures. BPS distributes his videos to hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

Blonde in the Belly of the Beast

Rebecca, who does not share her last name, is a YouTuber based in Seattle who has saidthe idea that “all cultures are equal” is “garbage.” On her Patreon fundraising page, Rebecca states that she has become “increasingly hostile this last decade as I realized that feminism, Islam, Cultural Marxism and unrestricted tolerance have incrementally eroded our once great society into something unrecognizable.” On YouTube, she shares views about white identity, tells young women to abandon feminism, and makes bigoted arguments against migration in Europe. Rebecca has more than 70,000 subscribers to her channel and has been hosted by far-right superstar Stefan Molyneux, alt-right extremist Tara McCarthy, and alt-right media network Red Ice TV. She has also been promoted numerous times on white nationalist Richard Spencer’s site, AltRight.com.

Brittany Pettibone

Brittany Pettibone is a YouTube personality who refers to herself as an “American nationalist” but has expressed white nationalist views, such as that it’s “our fault” if white people become a minority race. She uses her platform to host even more unabashed white nationalists and has appeared on extremist outlets like Red Ice. Pettibone has also perpetuated “white genocide” and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theories. Although Pettibone’s personal YouTube following is modest in comparison to others listed, she has been able to recruit many popular punditsto appear on her “Virtue of the West” series, which until recently was co-hosted by openly alt-right pundit Tara McCarthy. Recently, Pettibone joined former Rebel Media reporter Lauren Southern in anti-immigrant group Defend Europe’s blundering effortto keep NGO boats full of refugees away from the European coast.

James Allsup

James Allsup is a popular YouTube personality with hundreds of thousands of subscribers who once delivered a speech at a Trump campaign rally. He was spottedalongside open white supremacists at the Unite the Right rally last month, where he told Mediaite that “white people are tired of being told by the cosmopolitan elites that we are the problem.” Allsup has used his YouTube channel to host openly white supremacist guests such as Baked Alaska, an internet troll who regularly espouses Nazi propaganda memes, to sympathize with white nationalist alt-right figure Richard Spencer, and to deliver outlandish responses to discussions about white privilege.

Millennial Woes

Colin Robertson, known online as Millennial Woes, is a Scottish video blogger who speaks openly of his alt-right identity and his concern that the white race will perish unless white people take actions to defend their culture and prevent their race from diversifying. Earlier this year, Robertson was revealed to be a jobless ex-student who lives with his father. Robertson spokeat the now-infamous conference hosted by Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute where attendees shouted “Heil Trump!” while giving Nazi salutes. He has been hosted by popular video blogger Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin, alt-right personality Tara McCarthy, white nationalist blogger Brittany Pettibone, and alt-right broadcast channel Red Ice TV. Robertson frequently spreads white supremacist ideas, such as the notion that it is “exasperating” to see white women with mixed-race children, and argues that believing in racial equality is “clearly deluding yourself.”

RamzPaul

Paul Ray Ramsey, known as RamZPaul, is an internet personality who identifies as alt-right and white nationalist, and has spoken at multipleevents hosted by the white supremacist group American Renaissance. The Southern Poverty Law center has identified Ramsey as a “smiling Nazi” because of his public affiliations with white supremacist figures such as American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer. Although Ramsey no longer claims to identify as alt-right, days before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville he posted a video claiming that white people “will not be replaced.” Ramsey was an ardent supporter of alt-right Unite the Right rally, has appeared on alt-right broadcast network Red Ice TV, and has been interviewed by NPR and BuzzFeed.

Red Ice TV (Henrik Palmgren and Lana Lokteff)

Herik Palmgren, the Swedish host of Red Ice, founded the network—which simulcasts on YouTube—in 2003 to cater to people looking for “pro-European” news. Lana Lokteff, a Russian co-host, joined the network in 2012. Red Ice TV is transparently white nationalist, with show titles like “Diversity Is a Weapon Against White People” and “The War on Whites Is Real.” The network also features openly and blatantly white supremacist guests and serves as a gateway for extremist YouTube bloggers seeking alt-right audiences.

Tara McCarthy

Tara McCarthy is a British YouTube personality who openly touts her affiliation with the white supremacist alt-right. McCarthy hosts the “Reality Calls” podcast and formerly co-hosted with Brittany Pettibone “Virtue of the West,” a show that functions both as a platform for popular YouTube pundits and a critical booster for many alt-right internet stars. McCarthy is one of the most blatant white supremacists on YouTube and often uses her platform to boost the voices of neo-Nazis, warn viewers about a “white genocide conspiracy” and advocate that women submit to subservient gender roles. McCarthy has also suggested organizing an alt-right mentorship program to help guide young men who are exploring the movement. McCarthy is frequently able to book popular right-wing personalities to appear on her channel and shared screen time with popular personalities on “Virtue of the West.”

Wife with a Purpose

Ayla, who does not publicly share her last name, advocates for “radical traditionalism” on YouTube and her blog. Her blog warns that “feminism, homosexuality, atheism, hedonism, and transgender-ism” have overshadowed the Western world’s “hard work and priorities of family and faith.” Ayla, who considers herselfan alt-right poster girl, is best known for proposing to her audience a “white baby challenge.” Ayla, who is Mormon, claimedthe Mormon church “turned it’s (sic) back on its white members” when it denounced white supremacy following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Ayla has been promoted by alt-right broadcast station Red Ice TV and right-wing blogger Brittany Pettibone.

People Who Enable The Hate

Below is an introduction to some of the most prominent right-wing social media personalities who have used the popularity of their own platforms to host people with even more extreme views, or who have appeared on platforms hosted by extremists. These figures do not regularly use their platforms to personally express particularly racist or extremist ideologies, but frequently host guests or appear on platforms that do with minimal criticism.

Sargon of Akkad

Carl Benjamin, best known as Sargon of Akkad (or “Sargon” for short), is a YouTube personality who rose to fame during the “gamergate” controversy, which ended in death threats being sent to a female video game developer. Benjamin has hundreds of thousands of followers, with whom he shares anti-SJW (social justice warrior) rhetoric, criticizing liberals who express outrage at offensive content. Benjamin considers himself a “classical liberal,” but has expressed his fascination with the racist alt-right and has shared his platform with blatantly alt-right figures.

Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux is an author and vlogger with a large following on YouTube. He is a popular figure among “red-pilled” men’s right activists (“red pilled” is a term from the sci-fi movie The Matrix that refers to recognizing the brutal realities of the world rather than living in blissful ignorance), and identifies himself as a “race realist,” a common euphemism among white supremacists. Although Molyneux’s political views are bent toward the unforgiving Right, his primary involvement in the spread of extremism is his willingness to host openly alt-rightextremists, providing these figures a big step toward online relevancy.

Roaming Millennial

Roaming Millennial (RM) is an anonymous Canadian video blogger who uses her incredibly popular YouTube channel to convey far-right talking points that straddle the line of extremism. RM’s videos have been dedicated to botched debunks of racial oppression and gender inequality, labeling social justice “cancer,” and decrying non-traditional gender identity. Although RM does not identify as alt-right, she has welcomed right-wing extremists like Tara McCarthy to appear on her channel.

Styxhexenhammer666

Tarl Warwick, or “Styx,” was an early arrival to YouTube in 2007 and now posts daily political commentary videos in which he espouses nationalistic views to his audience of more than 170,000 subscribers. Warwick is often heralded on the racist cesspool of 4chan and 8chan’s “politically incorrect” forum boards, where he says he sources his news to “break the stranglehold of the mainstream media.” Warwick has appeared on blatantly alt-right YouTube channels with Red Ice hosts and Tara McCarthy. He does not denounce ethno-nationalism, but does not claim to personally believe in a white ethno-state. Recently, Warwick has been seen boosting his profile on Infowars and Stefan Molyneux’s channel.

———-

 

Discussion

16 comments for “FTR #987 Walkin’ the Snake at Breitbart and YouTube”

  1. Trouble in paradise? It appears so: The ‘Alt Right’ appears to have a sexual harassment problem. Yep, it turns out the women in this coalition of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, misogynists and rape apologist aren’t being treated very well by a number of their fellow Alt Right-ists. Imagine that.

    But as the following article notes, the Alt Right’s sexual harassment problem has a number of similarities to sexual harassment everywhere, but also some notable differences. Because the women of the Alt Right want to live under a patriarchy where their roles are limited to that of homemaking and child-rearing. They are very open and clear about this. But they don’t want to be disrespected by all the Alt Right misogynists while they’re doing it. In other words, they want their traditional female roles in their ethnonationalist patriarchy to be roles respected by men, but all the misogynists in the movement can’t do that because they pathologically hate women. It’s a grimly fascinating divide.

    And as the article also notes, it’s not a new divide. The KKK had a similar problem almost a century ago. Women actively played an important role in both the public image of the Klan but also just the logistics of running it. But that role quickly turned into a subservient role and led to real inter-gender tensions.
    But that divide is potentially even more challenging time around because while male Klan members are likely to be misogynists, they aren’t necessarily the kinds of ideological misogynists that you’re going to find in the overt misogynist wing of the today’s ‘Alt Right’. And it’s those overt focused misogynists who are waging the harassment campaign on the prominent women of the Alt Right. Prominent women like Lauren Southern and Kirsten Lauryn, a rising YouTube star and a self-described ‘Catholic monarchist’, with large YouTube audiences who play a critical role in shaping the far-right’s public face.

    And this places the men of the Alt Right who aren’t primarily driven by misogyny – and probably instead are largely driven by racism, antisemitism, and a love of authoritarianism – are forced to make a choice: stand up to their hyper-misogynist Alt Right bros in support of the women of the Alt Right or stand with them in the hopes of turning these misogynists into neo-Nazis. And it’s not obvious which side they’ll pick.

    It’s being framed as a ‘Red Pill vs Black Pill’ polarization in the movement: the ‘Red Pill’-ers want to fight for a Nazi future while the ‘Black Pill’-poppers are just nihilists who want to burn everything down (and can’t stand women except as sex objects). The ‘Red Pill’-ers neo-Nazis are, relatively speaking, the relative-feminists in this fight, which is just amazing but that’s what happens when you team up with rape apologists.

    The ‘Black Pill’ crowd also presents a whole new public image headache for the Alt Right: they actively promote the idea of ‘White Sharia’. It’s apparently a meme with them and represents the hyper-misogynists’ vision of how society should be structured: a strict Sharia-like set of rules design under a Patriarchal hyper-macho worldview where women are systematically subjugated. They basically want like Wahabist-style treatment of women and openly talk and joke about it. And there’s no reason to believe they aren’t serious too because that’s the nature of misogynists who team up with neo-Nazis. They are very serious about their misogyny. “White Sharia” is exactly the kind of thing they would want. And that presents quite a stark contrast to the ‘Red Pill’ neo-Nazi brand that venerates women like Lauren Southern and Kirsten Lauryn.

    And, yes, if the ‘Red Pill” neo-Nazis ever took total control and subjugated everyone (subjugating everyone is a Nazi goal, don’t forget), it would probably be much closer to the ‘Black Pill’ reality for both men and women than the ‘Red Pill’ ethnonationalist/Nazi types want to admit in their public musings. But that just makes not alienating all the Alt Right women all the more important for the Alt Right men. And yet they clearly have no respect for women, ‘Red Pill’ or ‘Black Pill’. It’s quite a dilemma and it’s clearly hard for them to hide this.

    Can the Alt Right’s hyper-misogynist “White Sharia” fans stop themselves from disrespecting the women who choose to join their movement? It’s a real Alt Right conundrum and we have yet to learn the answer:

    Mic

    The women of the “alt-right” are speaking out against misogyny. They’d prefer absolute patriarchy.

    by Jack Smith IV
    Published Dec. 8, 2017

    The white supremacist right has a slogan, a clarion call that binds the movement across countries and generations. It’s called the “14 words”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

    Buried within that mantra is a dangerous implication for an extremist movement dominated by white men: They’re going to need a lot of white nationalist women.

    But over the past few weeks, a small faction of devoted misogynists within the far-right is leading a wave of harassment against prominent white nationalist women. Male chauvinist celebrities have lead online “thot patrols” and dug up photos of far-right women who’ve allegedly dated men of color.

    “Men in the alt-right are going to have to decide whether they will continue to passively/actively endorse this behavior, or speak out against it,” far-right video personality Tara McCarthy wrote in a now-deleted series of tweets. “If you want more women speaking publicly about ethno-nationalism, I suggest you choose the latter.”

    This recent conflict has been poorly framed in the media as the women of the alt-right suddenly discovering misogyny within the movement. But the nationalist right’s most prominent women, many of whom are Christian fundamentalists, are perfectly fine with a patriarchy that wants to relegate women to the roles of homemakers and child-bearers.

    The true reckoning among white nationalists is one that’s been coming to a boil since the inception of the so-called “alt-right.” In its infancy, the rise of the alt-right brought white nationalists into an uneasy alliance with some of the internet’s most destructive misogynists. And now that there’s a rising uptick against nationalist women, the men of the far-right must either mitigate or exile this new strain of misogynist extremism, or risk cannibalizing their most effective stars and propagandists.

    Women within the far-right told Mic they were hesitant to speak about the issue with reporters, and that the conversation had become an unfortunate internal debate between two factions that could never truly coexist.

    During the 2016 election season, the alt-right materialized as an umbrella group pulling together a range of reactionary sects. There were the anti-feminists of the GamerGate movement, the fratty “pro-West” Proud Boys, right-wing provocateurs, traditional neo-Nazis, Southern Nationalists and even some elements of the militia movement. It was a jumbled cornucopia of disparate ideologies bound together only by support of then-candidate Donald Trump and a common enemy embodied by the dreaded “social justice warriors.”

    The big tent couldn’t hold for long. Soon after the election, the alt-right began to fracture, often along the lines of who was or was not deemed sufficiently racist. Militiamen scuffled with 4channers at a rally in Houston and pro-Trump provocateurs like Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec distanced themselves from the dedicated racists. Soon, the only ones willing to even tacitly wear the label of “alt-right” were avowed white nationalists.

    But along the way, the white nationalist movement was introduced to a new source of recruitment: the virulent misogynists and men’s rights activists who came into the alt-right through forums like 4chan and Reddit. While ethno-nationalists preach veneration of white women willing to submit to patriarchy and traditionalism, many MRAs animated purely by male grievance prefer explicit hatred for women. Where most on the right refer to the process of awakening to the evils of liberalism as taking the “red pill,” these are men who describe their philosophy as the “black pill” of apocalyptic nihilism.

    A favorite meme of this crowd is “white sharia,” which white nationalist and ex-marine Sacco Vandal described in a recent blog post as “a rallying cry for the disillusioned young men in our movement as well as their guiding light.”

    “Sharia law, though practiced today by some of the world’s most despicable races, is the only living example of anything that even remotely approximates the patriarchal society that Western man once had himself,” Vandal wrote.

    The worst of this scorn is often reserved for the women within the far-right, undertaking sexist witch hunts meant to shame them for showing leadership in what they see as a man’s movement.

    “I’m not going to get married at 22 years old just so that I won’t be called a degenerate on the internet,” nationalist figurehead Lauren Southern said in a recent video addressing her harassers.

    This reckoning was first predicted by alt-right researcher Angela Nagle, who wrote in February that “the philosophical irreconcilability between its paleo-conservatism, which aims for a return to traditional marriage while disapproving of porn and promiscuity, and the amoral libertine Internet culture from which all the real energy has emerged, will soon begin to show.”

    And the reckoning has come, with a vengeance. In the past few weeks, the MRAs have regularly hurled sexist slurs at women like Lauren Southern, Tara McCarthy and Lauren Rose, leveling the tired accusation that they’re posing as traditionalists for mere fame and attention.

    “They’re tricking a lot of men into thinking they’re the ideal, traditional woman when they’re no different than the skank I can find in any nightclub here,” Roosh V, a famous rape apologist blogger, said in a YouTube video posted Dec. 4. “In fact, in some cases, they are worse.”

    Sewing the white robes

    The far-right needs women as evangelists more than the misogynist extremists recognize. Nationalist women have been historically useful in cloaking the violent machismo of fascistic movements as a project for restoration of sacred values and civil society.

    “These women are very effective as propagandists,” James Allsup, a nationalist speaker and former College Republicans chapter president, told Mic. “There’s a clear and objective benefit in a movement to have people with the ability to reach the masses.”

    As historian Linda Gordon writes in The Second Coming of the KKK, women, who had recently won the right to vote, were vital to building Klan power throughout the 1920s, not just as a cultural powerhouse for white supremacist messaging, but in delivering a new electoral constituency to the polls for senators and congressmen sympathetic to the Klan.

    The KKK notoriously exaggerated its membership rolls in its propaganda, but Gordon estimates that as many as 1,500,000 women were members of Women’s Klu Klux Klan.

    “Women did a tremendous amount of Klan labor,” Gordon said. “Every time they put on a big pageants, or a big lecture, you can be sure it would be women doing the publicity, collecting the food, and other standard women’s roles.”

    Eventually, the vision of empowerment offered to the women of the KKK found its limits. Men stepped in to exert their power, assigning their own leadership over the WKKK, as women resisted sending their monetary dues up to the male leadership of the Klan. In 1923, women leaders even moved their headquarters to Little Rock, Arkansas, away from the Atlanta headquarters of the KKK, as a gesture of their autonomy. All the while, it was largely women holding fundraisers and running Sunday school-like youth programs to train the next generation of the Klan.

    By this time, it was clear women would be expected to uphold all of the responsibilities of male KKK organizers, while also taking a backseat and fulfilling essential domestic obligations.

    The Red Pill, or the Black Pill

    This power dynamic isn’t relegated to the 1920s. As a former skinhead, Shannon Martinez saw this story play out in her own relationship with the white power movement of the 1990s, pulling double-duty as a homemaker for adolescent racists even as she tried organizing her own efforts for recruitment and evangelism.

    “We could organize and put up fliers, but it was expected that I asked permission from whatever guy I was dating,” Martinez told Mic.

    Martinez has dedicated her time since leaving the movement 25 years ago — a boyfriend’s mother helped pull her out — to helping other young people get out, too. She volunteers with Life After Hate, a group that helps white supremacists leave their communities by providing an empathetic support network to young members of modern hate groups so that they can find a path away.

    Martinez isn’t the only one who sees an opportunity to teach and reform. There are white nationalists who believe that these extreme misogynists can be rehabilitated through the same fascistic appeals that have led disaffected young men into the arms of extremist groups for a century.

    “What we need to do to counter the nihilism is give them a vision of the future,” Matthew Heimbach, one of the country’s leading neo-Nazi leaders, told Mic. “When they get up in the morning, they need to know their sacrifice means something, and their life matters.”

    Kirsten Lauryn, a rising right-wing YouTuber who identifies as a Catholic “monarchist,” told Mic that though she’s been on the receiving end of these aggressors, she knows their pain. Though she refers to her harassers as “pathetic weasels,” she sees their grievances as akin to her own struggles with women she grew up with, who wanted independence and a career over a future as homemaker.

    “I feel sympathy for these men who’ve given up, because it’s something I’ve felt in my own life toward women friends I’ve known in the past — the progressive types who are keen on destroying marriages,” Lauryn said.

    These warring visions of patriarchy — an agrarian return to the home and kitchen for women, versus the “white sharia” of overt violence and oppression — are both animated by the same classic tropes of fascistic obsession: an alleged downfall of Western civilization, the erosion of so-called family values and the fear of lost status amid the increased enfranchisement of oppressed minorities. While the white nationalists of the new far-right see the two visions as incompatible, even some of their strongest voices have trouble imagining a compromise.

    Even without the explicit misogynists and MRAs, Southern and the women of the far-right will have to reckon with exactly how much independence the men at the helm of white nationalism are willing to tolerate. The irony, if not absolute hypocrisy, is lost on no one.

    “Admit it, Lauren,” one commenter responded. “You’re focusing on your career.”

    ———-

    “The women of the “alt-right” are speaking out against misogyny. They’d prefer absolute patriarchy.” by Jack Smith IV; Mic; 12/08/2017

    “But over the past few weeks, a small faction of devoted misogynists within the far-right is leading a wave of harassment against prominent white nationalist women. Male chauvinist celebrities have lead online “thot patrols” and dug up photos of far-right women who’ve allegedly dated men of color.”

    That’s right, in the middle of thise #metoo moment for the broader public, a group of Alt Right misogynists decided to harass the prominent women of the Alt Right. It’s rather instructional. And the harassers include some prominent YouTube personalities:


    And the reckoning has come, with a vengeance. In the past few weeks, the MRAs have regularly hurled sexist slurs at women like Lauren Southern, Tara McCarthy and Lauren Rose, leveling the tired accusation that they’re posing as traditionalists for mere fame and attention.

    “They’re tricking a lot of men into thinking they’re the ideal, traditional woman when they’re no different than the skank I can find in any nightclub here,” Roosh V, a famous rape apologist blogger, said in a YouTube video posted Dec. 4. “In fact, in some cases, they are worse.”

    Roosh V, a famous rape apologist blogger (that’s a thing), just called the ‘traditionalist’ YouTube video bloggers of the Alt Right phonies who are skanks. We probably should have seen this coming. Which some did see coming:


    This reckoning was first predicted by alt-right researcher Angela Nagle, who wrote in February that “the philosophical irreconcilability between its paleo-conservatism, which aims for a return to traditional marriage while disapproving of porn and promiscuity, and the amoral libertine Internet culture from which all the real energy has emerged, will soon begin to show.”

    Behold the Alt Right culture clash: the traditionalists who want a patriarchy that at least pretends to exalt white women vs the contemporary libertine Internet culture trollish Alt Right male who wants nothing to do with those pretenses and gets a thrill out of humiliating women and jokes/fantasizes about ‘White Sharia’. It’s quite a culture clash. And the ‘traditionalist’ men have to make a choice in this clash because they need to choose sides and its unclear which one they’ll pick:


    “Men in the alt-right are going to have to decide whether they will continue to passively/actively endorse this behavior, or speak out against it,” far-right video personality Tara McCarthy wrote in a now-deleted series of tweets. “If you want more women speaking publicly about ethno-nationalism, I suggest you choose the latter.”

    This recent conflict has been poorly framed in the media as the women of the alt-right suddenly discovering misogyny within the movement. But the nationalist right’s most prominent women, many of whom are Christian fundamentalists, are perfectly fine with a patriarchy that wants to relegate women to the roles of homemakers and child-bearers.

    The true reckoning among white nationalists is one that’s been coming to a boil since the inception of the so-called “alt-right.” In its infancy, the rise of the alt-right brought white nationalists into an uneasy alliance with some of the internet’s most destructive misogynists. And now that there’s a rising uptick against nationalist women, the men of the far-right must either mitigate or exile this new strain of misogynist extremism, or risk cannibalizing their most effective stars and propagandists.

    “And now that there’s a rising uptick against nationalist women, the men of the far-right must either mitigate or exile this new strain of misogynist extremism, or risk cannibalizing their most effective stars and propagandists.”

    Are the ‘Red Pill’ men of the Alt Right up the task of either mitigating or exiling misogynist extremist? On one hand, when you’re more extreme than neo-Nazis in your misogyny, it seems like it should be easy to find reasons to exile you. But not when it’s neo-Nazis who need to do the exiling. The misogynist extremists are their natural allies, and potential future recruits. It’s a real dilemma for this coalition of haters.

    But they’ll have to pick a side sooner or later, because it sounds like the extreme misogynists relish going after their female Alt Right allies. And just tearing things and people down in general. And “White Sharia”:


    But along the way, the white nationalist movement was introduced to a new source of recruitment: the virulent misogynists and men’s rights activists who came into the alt-right through forums like 4chan and Reddit. While ethno-nationalists preach veneration of white women willing to submit to patriarchy and traditionalism, many MRAs animated purely by male grievance prefer explicit hatred for women. Where most on the right refer to the process of awakening to the evils of liberalism as taking the “red pill,” these are men who describe their philosophy as the “black pill” of apocalyptic nihilism.

    A favorite meme of this crowd is “white sharia,” which white nationalist and ex-marine Sacco Vandal described in a recent blog post as “a rallying cry for the disillusioned young men in our movement as well as their guiding light.”

    “Sharia law, though practiced today by some of the world’s most despicable races, is the only living example of anything that even remotely approximates the patriarchal society that Western man once had himself,” Vandal wrote.

    The worst of this scorn is often reserved for the women within the far-right, undertaking sexist witch hunts meant to shame them for showing leadership in what they see as a man’s movement.

    “I’m not going to get married at 22 years old just so that I won’t be called a degenerate on the internet,” nationalist figurehead Lauren Southern said in a recent video addressing her harassers.

    “The worst of this scorn is often reserved for the women within the far-right, undertaking sexist witch hunts meant to shame them for showing leadership in what they see as a man’s movement.”

    So is the Alt Right doomed to implode under the weight of its mutual loathing/fearing? Well, there is hope. The women might just put up with all the harassment and they can all unite behind the fact that they’re all fighting for some form of “White Sharia”. The ‘traditionalist’ version just pretends to respect the women. Otherwise the overlap between these factions of the Alt Right is pretty massive so it’s possible:


    Kirsten Lauryn, a rising right-wing YouTuber who identifies as a Catholic “monarchist,” told Mic that though she’s been on the receiving end of these aggressors, she knows their pain. Though she refers to her harassers as “pathetic weasels,” she sees their grievances as akin to her own struggles with women she grew up with, who wanted independence and a career over a future as homemaker.

    “I feel sympathy for these men who’ve given up, because it’s something I’ve felt in my own life toward women friends I’ve known in the past — the progressive types who are keen on destroying marriages,” Lauryn said.

    These warring visions of patriarchy — an agrarian return to the home and kitchen for women, versus the “white sharia” of overt violence and oppression — are both animated by the same classic tropes of fascistic obsession: an alleged downfall of Western civilization, the erosion of so-called family values and the fear of lost status amid the increased enfranchisement of oppressed minorities. While the white nationalists of the new far-right see the two visions as incompatible, even some of their strongest voices have trouble imagining a compromise.

    “These warring visions of patriarchy — an agrarian return to the home and kitchen for women, versus the “white sharia” of overt violence and oppression — are both animated by the same classic tropes of fascistic obsession: an alleged downfall of Western civilization, the erosion of so-called family values and the fear of lost status amid the increased enfranchisement of oppressed minorities.”

    Can’t we all just get along? That’s the question for the Alt Right these days now that the misogynist extremist “White Sharia” fans figured out that it was fun attacking and tearing down the women on the far-right and the answer isn’t at all clear. The freedom to flagrantly not get along – until they seize control and impose neo-Nazi “White Sharia” authoritarianism, at which point everyone will be forced to ‘get along’ in a very unpleasant way – is part of what they’re fighting for.

    Political umbrella movements often run into difficulties getting along with each other. But this is an umbrella movement of neo-Nazis getting along with “White Sharia” misogynist extremists who tend to be super-trolls too. That’s not a great recipe for anyone getting along with anyone. And yet they must if “White Sharia” is going to be realized. The neo-Nazis and extreme misogynists are natural allies, but they need those neo-Nazi women too. It’s a fascinating challenge for the far-right.

    So that’s how the #metoo ‘moment’ is playing out on the Alt Right. Of course.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 18, 2017, 11:18 pm
  2. There was a genuinely chilling recent opinion piece in the New York Times a particular technological development that threatens to super-charge the Big Lies that drive our world: as anyone who saw the file Star Wars film “Rogue One” knows well, the technology required to create a nearly life-like computer-generated videos of a real person is already a reality. So far it’s a reality largely limited to big movie studios, but that’s not going to last. And when this technology becomes available to almost anyone, it’s more or less a foregone conclusion that we’re going to see a flood of fake videos about designed to destroy people, especially politicians:

    The New York Times
    Opinion

    Our Hackable Political Future

    By HENRY J. FARRELL and RICK PERLSTEIN
    FEB. 4, 2018

    Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another.

    It is the summer of 2019, and the story, predictably, has stuck around — part talk-show joke, part right-wing talking point. “It’s news,” political journalists say in their own defense. “People are talking about it. How can we not?”

    Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?”

    Welcome to the shape of things to come. In 2016 Gareth Edwards, the director of the Star Wars film “Rogue One,” was able to create a scene featuring a young Princess Leia by manipulating images of Carrie Fisher as she looked in 1977. Mr. Edwards had the best hardware and software a $200 million Hollywood budget could buy. Less than two years later, images of similar quality can be created with software available for free download on Reddit. That was how a faked video supposedly of the actress Emma Watson in a shower with another woman ended up on the website Celeb Jihad.

    Programs like these have many legitimate applications. They can help computer-security experts probe for weaknesses in their defenses and help self-driving cars learn how to navigate unusual weather conditions. But as the novelist William Gibson once said, “The street finds its own uses for things.” So do rogue political actors. The implications for democracy are eye-opening.

    The conservative political activist James O’Keefe has created a cottage industry manipulating political perceptions by editing footage in misleading ways. In 2018, low-tech editing like Mr. O’Keefe’s is already an anachronism: Imagine what even less scrupulous activists could do with the power to create “video” framing real people for things they’ve never actually done. One harrowing potential eventuality: Fake video and audio may become so convincing that it can’t be distinguished from real recordings, rendering audio and video evidence inadmissible in court.

    A program called Face2Face, developed at Stanford, films one person speaking, then manipulates that person’s image to resemble someone else’s. Throw in voice manipulation technology, and you can literally make anyone say anything — or at least seem to.

    The technology isn’t quite there; Princess Leia was a little wooden, if you looked carefully. But it’s closer than you might think. And even when fake video isn’t perfect, it can convince people who want to be convinced, especially when it reinforces offensive gender or racial stereotypes.

    In 2007, Barack Obama’s political opponents insisted that footage existed of Michelle Obama ranting against “whitey.” In the future, they may not have to worry about whether it actually existed. If someone called their bluff, they may simply be able to invent it, using data from stock photos and pre-existing footage.

    The next step would be one we are already familiar with: the exploitation of the algorithms used by social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread stories virally to those most inclined to show interest in them, even if those stories are fake.

    It might be impossible to stop the advance of this kind of technology. But the relevant algorithms here aren’t only the ones that run on computer hardware. They are also the ones that undergird our too easily hacked media system, where garbage acquires the perfumed scent of legitimacy with all too much ease. Editors, journalists and news producers can play a role here — for good or for bad.

    Outlets like Fox News spread stories about the murder of Democratic staff members and F.B.I. conspiracies to frame the president. Traditional news organizations, fearing that they might be left behind in the new attention economy, struggle to maximize “engagement with content.”

    This gives them a built-in incentive to spread informational viruses that enfeeble the very democratic institutions that allow a free media to thrive. Cable news shows consider it their professional duty to provide “balance” by giving partisan talking heads free rein to spout nonsense — or amplify the nonsense of our current president.

    It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.

    ———-

    “Our Hackable Political Future” by HENRY J. FARRELL and RICK PERLSTEIN; The New York Times; 02/04/2018

    “It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.”

    Can democracy survive the era of really, really convincingly real fake news? Fake news that looks and sounds completely real? We’ll see, but when you look at the hypothetical scenarios they described, it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t political dirty-tricks teams already working overtime on carrying out exactly this kind of attack:


    Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another.

    It is the summer of 2019, and the story, predictably, has stuck around — part talk-show joke, part right-wing talking point. “It’s news,” political journalists say in their own defense. “People are talking about it. How can we not?”

    Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?”

    Welcome to the shape of things to come. In 2016 Gareth Edwards, the director of the Star Wars film “Rogue One,” was able to create a scene featuring a young Princess Leia by manipulating images of Carrie Fisher as she looked in 1977. Mr. Edwards had the best hardware and software a $200 million Hollywood budget could buy. Less than two years later, images of similar quality can be created with software available for free download on Reddit. That was how a faked video supposedly of the actress Emma Watson in a shower with another woman ended up on the website Celeb Jihad.

    A program called Face2Face, developed at Stanford, films one person speaking, then manipulates that person’s image to resemble someone else’s. Throw in voice manipulation technology, and you can literally make anyone say anything — or at least seem to.

    And it’s even harder to imagine that there aren’t political dirty-tricks teams specifically being led by the right-wing’s rogue gallery of dirty-tricks political operatives like James O’Keefe. His ‘gotcha’ videos won’t have to rely on deceptive editing in the future. Because there’s no doubt going to be a whole right-wing dirty-tricks special effects team:


    Programs like these have many legitimate applications. They can help computer-security experts probe for weaknesses in their defenses and help self-driving cars learn how to navigate unusual weather conditions. But as the novelist William Gibson once said, “The street finds its own uses for things.” So do rogue political actors. The implications for democracy are eye-opening.

    The conservative political activist James O’Keefe has created a cottage industry manipulating political perceptions by editing footage in misleading ways. In 2018, low-tech editing like Mr. O’Keefe’s is already an anachronism: Imagine what even less scrupulous activists could do with the power to create “video” framing real people for things they’ve never actually done. One harrowing potential eventuality: Fake video and audio may become so convincing that it can’t be distinguished from real recordings, rendering audio and video evidence inadmissible in court.

    And when those future fraudulent special effects videos are put out there, it’s hard to imagine they aren’t going to be wildly promoted, either by gaming the social media algorithms or just letting unscrupulous figures in the media promote them for the extra clicks:


    The next step would be one we are already familiar with: the exploitation of the algorithms used by social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread stories virally to those most inclined to show interest in them, even if those stories are fake.

    It might be impossible to stop the advance of this kind of technology. But the relevant algorithms here aren’t only the ones that run on computer hardware. They are also the ones that undergird our too easily hacked media system, where garbage acquires the perfumed scent of legitimacy with all too much ease. Editors, journalists and news producers can play a role here — for good or for bad.

    And let’s not forget what just happened in 2016: The Trump campaign and its media allies went all in on promoting #pizzagate, the ‘Alt-Right’ meme of a giant pizza parlor pedophile conspiracy designed to smear Hillary Clinton. Now imagine a disinformation operation like that in the era of the above describe software. That’s going to be a major feature in the future of politics. The Big Lie is about to get supplementary audio and video.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2018, 4:39 pm
  3. Following up on the recent article speculating about the potential impact on politics and public life of the emerging special effects technology used to create realistic looking videos that superimpose a person’s face on another body, allowing for all sorts of smear videos, here’s a glimpse of how far along this technology is: both Twitter and PornHub, the online pornography giant, are already taking action to remove numerous “Deepfake” videos of celebrities being super-imposed onto porn actors in response to the flood of such videos that are already being generated:

    PC Magazine

    PornHub, Twitter Ban ‘Deepfake’ AI-Modified Porn
    Deepfakes, for the uninitiated, are fake porn videos created by using a machine learning algorithm to match someone’s face to another person’s body.

    By Angela Moscaritolo
    February 7, 2018 10:10AM EST

    It might be kind of comical to see Nicolas Cage’s face on the body of a woman, but expect to see less of this type of content floating around on PornHub and Twitter in the future.

    As Motherboard first reported, both sites are taking action against artificial intelligence-powered pornography, known as “deepfakes.”

    Deepfakes, for the uninitiated, are porn videos created by using a machine learning algorithm to match someone’s face to another person’s body. Loads of celebrities have had their faces used in porn scenes without their consent, and the results are almost flawless. Check out the SFW example below for a better idea of what we’re talking about.
    [see chillingly realistic video of Nicolas Cage’s head on a woman’s body]
    In a statement to PCMag on Wednesday, PornHub Vice President Corey Price said the company in 2015 introduced a submission form, which lets users easily flag nonconsensual content like revenge porn for removal. People have also started using that tool to flag deepfakes, he said.

    The company still has a lot of cleaning up to do. Motherboard reported there are still tons of deepfakes on PornHub.

    “I was able to easily find dozens of deepfakes posted in the last few days, many under the search term ‘deepfakes’ or with deepfakes and the name of celebrities in the title of the video,” Motherboard’s Samantha Cole wrote.

    Over on Twitter, meanwhile, users can now be suspended for posting deepfakes and other nonconsensual porn.

    “We will suspend any account we identify as the original poster of intimate media that has been produced or distributed without the subject’s consent,” a Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard. “We will also suspend any account dedicated to posting this type of content.”

    The site reported that Discord and Gfycat take a similar stance on deepfakes. For now, these types of videos appear to be primarily circulating via Reddit, where the deepfake community currently boasts around 90,000 subscribers.

    ———-

    “PornHub, Twitter Ban ‘Deepfake’ AI-Modified Porn” by Angela Moscaritolo; PC Magazine; 02/07/2018

    “Deepfakes, for the uninitiated, are porn videos created by using a machine learning algorithm to match someone’s face to another person’s body. Loads of celebrities have had their faces used in porn scenes without their consent, and the results are almost flawless. Check out the SFW example below for a better idea of what we’re talking about.”

    Yep, this technology is already clearly at the point where it’s both highly realistic looking and easy enough to use that lots of people can use it. So even after PornHub took these steps to remove this content, the reporter from Motherboard was easily able to find dozens of deepfakes posted just in the last few days:


    The company still has a lot of cleaning up to do. Motherboard reported there are still tons of deepfakes on PornHub.

    “I was able to easily find dozens of deepfakes posted in the last few days, many under the search term ‘deepfakes’ or with deepfakes and the name of celebrities in the title of the video,” Motherboard’s Samantha Cole wrote.

    So how big is this going to get as the technology develops and gets easier to use? Well, Reddit already has 90,000 subscribers to a “deepfake” community:


    The site reported that Discord and Gfycat take a similar stance on deepfakes. For now, these types of videos appear to be primarily circulating via Reddit, where the deepfake community currently boasts around 90,000 subscribers.

    And keep in mind that, while this technology is primarily being used for celebrities right now, there’s going to come a point when someone develops a simple app that let’s you take a quick video of someone and then transpose them on someone else where almost no skill or training is required and just a few button pushes lets anyone create that incredibly creep Nicolas Cage video. Imagine what the ‘revenge porn’ issue is going to be like when that kind of technology is widely available. Or politics. Or pretty much anything where you’re reputation is important.

    So that’s all part of the very near future: anyone will have the ability to create realistic fake videos of almost anyone. With ease.

    How will this impact society beyond the obvious implications on stuff like ‘revenge porn’ or politics? Well, the odds are that society will eventually be so inundated with this stuff that almost all videos will just be assumed to be fakes until additional evidence is provided. And that’s going to take us into a whole new very weird situation where people just assume everything is fake and nothing can be trusted. And, on the one hand, that assumption that everything is fake could oddly create a solution of sorts to the creepiness of living in a society where cameras are everyone and much of what we do is being recorded. But on the other hand, it’s hard to ignore the fact that “Fake News” has become one of the most effective techniques used by the far-right to refute virtually any story or narrative that they find inconvenient and intellectually soften up their audience to believe almost anything. It’s one of the crazy quirks of human psychology: if you convince people that no sources of information can be trust they’re going to be much more open to trusting very untrustworthy sources.

    And that points towards one of the most chilling potential applications of this technology that we should expect: the aggressive pushing of fake videos that are intended to be exposed as fakes for the purpose of convincing the populace that nothing can be trusted.

    So while the Big Lie is about to get supplementary audio and video, it’s worth keeping in mind that a lot of video will probably be intended to be exposed as a lie in order fuel distrust of everything which is exactly the kind of situation where the Big Lie can get a lot bigger.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 8, 2018, 4:47 pm
  4. It looks like the ‘Alt-Right’ campaign to push former Senator Al Franken to resign had help from an unexpected source: Japanese twitter bots.

    According to research by analysts at Unhack the Vote, a voting rights outfit, Roger Stone isn’t the only individual who demonstrated foreknowledge of the story of Leanne Tweeden’s accusations. It turns out there was a Japanese twitter bot network which controls a large pool of dummy Twitter accounts (the “bots”) that also demonstrated such foreknowledge.

    This bot network normally just retweeted tweets related posted on Japanese topics, celebrities, bitcoin, and sports. But on November 15th, a Japanese developer named Atsufumi Otsuka registering a web domain in Japan called RealUSA.site. That’s the same day Roger Stone announced over Twitter that it’s Franken’s “time in the barrel” and one day before the story broke.

    Then, on November 20th, Alt-Right provocateur Charles Johnson tweeted, “Thinking of offering money to people who go on tv and say Al Frank is a predator.” That same day, Otsuka registered a second domain in Japan for another fake-news site, VotyUS.me.

    The two fake news sites were finally put to use on December 7, shortly before Democrats started calling for Franken to step down. The sites re-published an article by Ijeoma Oluo, a liberal writer, urging women and activists to stop supporting Franken. Oluo’s piece, titled “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You but You Can’t Matter Anymore,” was posted on relatively obscure website that only had a reach of of 10,000 followers. But once the article got reposted to those two fake news sites the twitter bot networking suddenly sprang into action, with thousands of fake Twitter accounts tweeting the title of the article—but linking back to repost of the article on the fake news sites, RealUSA.site or VotyUS.me.

    And while it’s not clear who paid for the Twitter-bot activity, it’s hard to ignore the coincidental timing. And researchers have concluded that it wasn’t cheap. They estimate that it required dozens of hours of initial development time and at least one person working full time to produce and distribute content. So the whole task of setting up this Japanese Twitter bot army to amplify the calls for Senator Franken to step down was deemed by whoever paid for it to be with the time and money:

    Newsweek

    How an Alt-Right Bot Network Took Down Al Franken

    By Nina Burleigh
    On 2/19/18 at 6:00 AM

    White nationalist provocateurs, a pair of fake news sites, an army of Twitter bots and other cyber tricks helped derail Democratic Senator Al Franken last year, new research shows.

    While everyone has been focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to support Donald Trump, the Franken takedown originated in—and was propelled by—a strategic online campaign with digital tentacles reaching to, of all places, Japan. Analysts have now mapped out how Hooters pinup girl and lad-mag model Leeann Tweeden’s initial accusation against Franken became effective propaganda after right-wing black ops master Roger Stone first hinted at the allegation.

    A pair of Japan-based websites, created the day before Tweeden came forward, and a swarm of related Twitter bots made the Tweeden story go viral and then weaponized a liberal writer’s criticism of Franken. The bot army—in tandem with prominent real, live members of the far right who have Twitter followers in the millions, such as Mike Cernovich—spewed thousands of posts, helping the #FrankenFondles hashtag and the “Franken is a groper” meme effectively silence the testimonies of eight former female staffers who defended the Minnesota Democrat before he resigned last year.

    The operation commenced on November 15, when Stone—who is now banned from Twitter for racism and profanity—tweeted from one of his accounts “Roger Stone says it’s Al Franken’s ‘time in the barrel.’ Franken next in long list of Democrats accused of ‘grabby’ behavior.”

    On the same day, a developer named Atsufumi Otsuka registered a web domain in Japan called RealUSA.site, and a fake-news website soon emerged at that web address, according to research shared with the voting rights outfit Unhack the Vote.

    Tweeden’s account of Franken groping her was first amplified by a network of right-wing media, including KABC in Los Angeles, where Tweeden has a radio show, The Hill, Infowars and Breitbart, which mobilized within hours of Stone’s tweet and the release of a picture of a Tweeden and Franken at a USO performance before he was a senator.

    By November 17, the trending of “Al Franken” was officially also a Russian intelligence operation, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization tracking Russian social media accounts, based on a sample taken that day of 600 of the fake accounts.

    Five days later, on November 20, right-wing provocateur Charles Johnson tweeted, “Thinking of offering money to people who go on tv and say Al Frank is a predator.”

    That same day, Otsuka registered a second domain in Japan for another fake-news site, VotyUS.me. Both accounts used the same Google analytics account ID and Apple app ID, and the name of the servers and registration for both sites were virtually identical, researchers found.

    On December 7, just before Democrats started calling for Franken to step down, the freshly minted Japan-based fake sites went to work and re-published an article by Ijeoma Oluo, a liberal writer, urging women and activists to stop supporting Franken. Oluo had posted the opinion piece, titled “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You but You Can’t Matter Anymore,” on a much smaller website, with a reach of 10,000 followers.

    Suddenly, thousands of apparently fake Twitter accounts were tweeting the title of the article—but linking back to one of the two Japanese-registered fake-news sites created in conjunction with the right-wing anti-Franken campaign. The bot accounts normally tweeted about celebrities, bitcoin and sports, but on that day, they were mobilized against Franken. Researchers have found that each bot account had 30 to 60 followers, all Japanese. The first follower for each account was either Japanese or Russian.

    “We began to suspect that this legitimate opinion piece [by Oluo] had been weaponized for political gain by dozens of twitter accounts, all of them repeatedly tweeting links to the two domains registered in Japan in late November,” Unhack the Vote’s Mike Farb wrote in Medium. “Strong similarities between the accounts combined with clear connection to the two recently-established Japanese websites verified our suspicions.”

    Soon, Farb and company realized they had “stumbled upon a sophisticated botnet being used to spread alt-right propaganda.”

    The researcher who discovered the botnet has nicknamed it “the Voty botnet,” and it is still alive today, although currently not operating in service of any political propaganda. The researchers estimate that more than 400 accounts are in the botnet, although at any given time, only a subset are being deployed in the online American political wars.

    I will fully cover the legal expenses of any VICTIM of a Congressman who wants to come forward to tell her story. Break the secrecy. #UnsealTheDeals— Mike Cernovich ???? (@Cernovich) November 21, 2017

    The botnet has been spreading propaganda “for over two months now,” according to the researchers, and Twitter is aware of it, and has not stopped it. “We know this because Twitter has suspended some spam accounts that follow our Voty bots,” the researcher told Newsweek. “This shows that Twitter is aware that these ‘follower’ accounts are not legitimate. But if you look at the “who to follow” suggestion window when you are on a Voty botnet account, the suggestions are almost always other Voty Twitter bot accounts. This shows that Twitter is aware that these accounts are interrelated.”

    One question remains: Who is paying for this operation? The researchers believe that the operation was expensive. “We estimate dozens of hours of initial development time and at least one person working full time to produce and distribute content,” one of the researchers told Newsweek. “Additionally, it’s likely that an existing bot farm of compromised computers is basically being rented as a distributed host for these accounts.”

    Like targeted Facebook ads that Russian troll farms used in the 2016 election, Twitter bots have been around for years and were originally created for sales purposes. But since the 2016 election, arguably lost due to the right’s superior utilization of darker online strategies, the left is not known to have created or mobilized its own fake cyber army to amplify its viewpoint.

    “Agreed we need one,” Democratic digital media strategist Jess McIntosh, who worked on Franken’s campaign and for Hillary Clinton’s bid for president, said in an email to Newsweek. “But it’s harder to use these tactics when you can’t rely on either lies OR hate to do it.”


    ———-

    “How an Alt-Right Bot Network Took Down Al Franken” by Nina Burleigh; Newsweek;
    2/19/2018

    A pair of Japan-based websites, created the day before Tweeden came forward, and a swarm of related Twitter bots made the Tweeden story go viral and then weaponized a liberal writer’s criticism of Franken. The bot army—in tandem with prominent real, live members of the far right who have Twitter followers in the millions, such as Mike Cernovich—spewed thousands of posts, helping the #FrankenFondles hashtag and the “Franken is a groper” meme effectively silence the testimonies of eight former female staffers who defended the Minnesota Democrat before he resigned last year.”

    So on the same day Roger Stone sends out his now-infamous tweet, a Japanese developer registers one of the two fake news sites that’s going to be used in the campaign calling for Franken’s resignation:


    The operation commenced on November 15, when Stone—who is now banned from Twitter for racism and profanity—tweeted from one of his accounts “Roger Stone says it’s Al Franken’s ‘time in the barrel.’ Franken next in long list of Democrats accused of ‘grabby’ behavior.”

    On the same day, a developer named Atsufumi Otsuka registered a web domain in Japan called RealUSA.site, and a fake-news website soon emerged at that web address, according to research shared with the voting rights outfit Unhack the Vote.

    And then, five days later, we have Charles Johnson tweeting about his interest in paying people who go on tv to call Franken a predator. And the second fake new domain gets set up:


    Five days later, on November 20, right-wing provocateur Charles Johnson tweeted, “Thinking of offering money to people who go on tv and say Al Frank is a predator.”

    That same day, Otsuka registered a second domain in Japan for another fake-news site, VotyUS.me. Both accounts used the same Google analytics account ID and Apple app ID, and the name of the servers and registration for both sites were virtually identical, researchers found.

    Then a couple of weeks like, the two fake news sites get put into action. The thousands of fake Twitter accounts suddenly start tweeting out an article written by a liberal writer calling for Franken to resign. But they don’t link to the article on the original site. Instead, they link to copies of the article that were reposted on the two fake news sites:


    On December 7, just before Democrats started calling for Franken to step down, the freshly minted Japan-based fake sites went to work and re-published an article by Ijeoma Oluo, a liberal writer, urging women and activists to stop supporting Franken. Oluo had posted the opinion piece, titled “Dear Al Franken, I’ll Miss You but You Can’t Matter Anymore,” on a much smaller website, with a reach of 10,000 followers.

    Suddenly, thousands of apparently fake Twitter accounts were tweeting the title of the article—but linking back to one of the two Japanese-registered fake-news sites created in conjunction with the right-wing anti-Franken campaign. The bot accounts normally tweeted about celebrities, bitcoin and sports, but on that day, they were mobilized against Franken. Researchers have found that each bot account had 30 to 60 followers, all Japanese. The first follower for each account was either Japanese or Russian.

    And this Japanese ‘botnet’ of Twitter accounts is still pushing ‘Alt-Right’ propaganda today. Although not exclusively ‘Alt-Right’ propaganda. That’s just a subset of what it does, suggesting that this really just a botnet-for-hire that got hired by either Roger Stone or Charles Johnson:


    Soon, Farb and company realized they had “stumbled upon a sophisticated botnet being used to spread alt-right propaganda.”

    The researcher who discovered the botnet has nicknamed it “the Voty botnet,” and it is still alive today, although currently not operating in service of any political propaganda. The researchers estimate that more than 400 accounts are in the botnet, although at any given time, only a subset are being deployed in the online American political wars.

    I will fully cover the legal expenses of any VICTIM of a Congressman who wants to come forward to tell her story. Break the secrecy. #UnsealTheDeals— Mike Cernovich ???? (@Cernovich) November 21, 2017

    The botnet has been spreading propaganda “for over two months now,” according to the researchers, and Twitter is aware of it, and has not stopped it. “We know this because Twitter has suspended some spam accounts that follow our Voty bots,” the researcher told Newsweek. “This shows that Twitter is aware that these ‘follower’ accounts are not legitimate. But if you look at the “who to follow” suggestion window when you are on a Voty botnet account, the suggestions are almost always other Voty Twitter bot accounts. This shows that Twitter is aware that these accounts are interrelated.”

    But the question of who actually paid for this botnet-for-hire, along with the cost of setting of the two fake new sites, has yet to be answered. And these services probably were cheap:


    One question remains: Who is paying for this operation? The researchers believe that the operation was expensive. “We estimate dozens of hours of initial development time and at least one person working full time to produce and distribute content,” one of the researchers told Newsweek. “Additionally, it’s likely that an existing bot farm of compromised computers is basically being rented as a distributed host for these accounts.”

    Like targeted Facebook ads that Russian troll farms used in the 2016 election, Twitter bots have been around for years and were originally created for sales purposes. But since the 2016 election, arguably lost due to the right’s superior utilization of darker online strategies, the left is not known to have created or mobilized its own fake cyber army to amplify its viewpoint.

    So, while it’s unclear how much actual impact that this Twitter bot army had on how this issue unfolded, we appear to have a real-world glimpse here of how the right-wing troll network is harnessing such technologies to amplify their message and create an online echo-chamber where ‘everyone’ is suddenly saying the same thing. ‘Everyone’ suddenly saying same far-right thing that someone like Roger Stone or Charles Johnson paid them to say.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 19, 2018, 2:59 pm
  5. Here’s an update on Milo Yiannopoulus and what happened to his career after he was forced to step down as senior editor at Breitbart after publicly endorsing adults having sex with your teens. It’s an update that is particularly topical given the recent right-wing embrace of the Alex Jone ‘crisis actors’ meme – that the school shooting was a hoax and the students are actors – in the wake of the school shooting in Florida: It turns out Milo found a new media home. Selling overpriced supplements at Alex Jones’s InfoWars:

    AV Club

    Milo Yiannopoulos has been reduced to shilling “supplements” on InfoWars

    Gabe Worgaftik
    02/21/2018 4:13pm

    The last time we saw Milo Yiannopolous he was dropping the lawsuit he filed against publisher Simon & Schuster over the cancellation of his book deal. This was despite the fact that the discovery process had already made public the embarrassing notes process in which his increasingly frustrated editor repeatedly dunked all over him..

    It wasn’t so long ago that Yiannopolous was a star columnist for Breitbart. For a brief, glittering moment, Yiannopolous managed to parlay this position into many appearances on a number of reputable(ish) outlets, before falling victim to a series of increasingly mortifying self-induced public fiascos. Today, Yiannopolous has resurfaced and, as noticed by writer Ross McCafferty, his latest humiliation finds him at an outlet and with a job much more suited to his non-talents: hawking snake-oil health supplements at InfoWars.

    Milo is selling supplements on Infowars. This is not a drill. pic.twitter.com/zieQXOqtRi— Ross McCafferty (@RossMcCaff) February 21, 2018

    There’s a lot to savor in this 45-second clip. Enjoy the mass of papers for some reason all over his desk, a staple of the InfoWars style. Pause to breathe in the way Yiannopolous’ British accent really drives home exactly how indignant Milo is at having been reduced to selling garbage “Icuren 30-Day Liver Cleanse” to idiots via fake radio, when mere months ago he was selling made-up race wars to idiots via Fox News. Luxuriate in the muffled way he tries to psyche himself up to swallow some sugar pills, washing them down with bottled water that is surely not fluoride-free. This, unlike Alex Jones’ bullshit supplements, is the good stuff.

    ———–

    “Milo Yiannopoulos has been reduced to shilling “supplements” on InfoWars” by Gabe Worgaftik; AV Club; 02/21/2018

    “It wasn’t so long ago that Yiannopolous was a star columnist for Breitbart. For a brief, glittering moment, Yiannopolous managed to parlay this position into many appearances on a number of reputable(ish) outlets, before falling victim to a series of increasingly mortifying self-induced public fiascos. Today, Yiannopolous has resurfaced and, as noticed by writer Ross McCafferty, his latest humiliation finds him at an outlet and with a job much more suited to his non-talents: hawking snake-oil health supplements at InfoWars.

    Has Milo found his true calling? Perhaps, but also keep in mind that InfoWars is one of the best sites he could have found to rebuild his career as a far-right troll provocateur. After all, Breitbart and InfoWars have exploded in popularity with right-wing audiences in recent years, so he’s probably reaching much of the same audience at InfoWars tha he was at Breitbart. In fact, based on “Google trends”, both Breitbart and Infowars are now far more popular than Rush Limbaugh. So if hawking overpriced supplements is a demotion, it’s not much of demotion.

    And depending on how much of a cut Milo gets, who knows, he might actually be making more money now than ever. Because as the following article notes, those overpriced supplements are the bread and butter that finance Alex Jones’s media empire:

    BuzzFeed

    We Sent Alex Jones’ Infowars Supplements To A Lab. Here’s What’s In Them.

    “You could grab a bottle for around $10 and skip the 2X+ price markup from Infowars,” one lab review reads.

    Charlie Warzel
    BuzzFeed News Reporter
    Posted on August 9, 2017, at 5:12 p.m.

    Alex Jones’ wildly popular suite of Infowars supplements probably won’t kill you, but extensive tests provided to BuzzFeed News have shown that they’re little more than overpriced and ineffective blends of vitamins and minerals that have been sold in stores for ages.

    The independent test results are the work of Labdoor, a San Francisco–based lab that tests and grades dietary supplements. Labdoor ran full tests on six popular Infowars supplements to determine the exact makeup of each supplement and screen for various dangerous and illegal chemicals. It also investigated a few of the products that “claimed incredible benefits for what seemed like could just be simple ingredients.”

    “We tested samples in triplicate, and wherever possible, cross-checked those results with at least two independent analytical laboratories, so we have complete trust in our conclusions,” Brian Brandley, Labdoor’s laboratory director, told BuzzFeed News.

    All of the test results were largely the same: The products are — more or less — accurately advertised. They don’t contain significantly more or less of a particular ingredient than listed on the bottles, and there are no surprise ingredients. They’re also reasonably safe, meaning they passed heavy metal contaminant screenings and tested free of stimulants, depressants, and other prohibited drugs.

    But just because the products’ ingredients matched their labels doesn’t mean they lived up to Jones’ claims. Survival Shield X-2, for example, “is just plain iodine, the same stuff doctors used to pour on surfaces as a disinfectant,” Labdoor’s results read.

    When the company tested Anthroplex, which retails for $29.95, it found that there was so little zinc that “if you’re extremely zinc deficient, the value…is not going to be significantly helpful.” The report notes that “you could actually get another zinc orotate supplement for around $5 WITH an impactful serving size,” before concluding simply that “this product is a waste of money.”

    This claim — that the Infowars supplements often contained less effective serving sizes than their less expensive counterparts — was a running theme in Labdoor’s results. In almost every example, Labdoor’s tests and reviews describe the products as little more than heavily overpriced supplements with few health benefits, if any.

    As Jones’ popularity has risen, so has his supplements business, which sources have told BuzzFeed News largely funds Jones’ highly controversial Infowars media empire — home to incendiary conspiracies including but not limited to #Pizzagate, that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked, and that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails — in addition to acting as a kind of lifestyle-brand complement to Jones’ particular brand of conspiracy-minded, fear-fueled programming.

    “He can sell 500 supplements in an hour,” a former employee told BuzzFeed News this spring. “It’s like QVC for conspiracy.” One estimate by New York magazine — which uses some back-of-the-envelope calculations based on the number of reviews of supplements on Jones’ Infowars Life Store — suggests that, with an average supplement price of $30, Jones could haul in $15,000,000 in sales over a two-year period. A second, less conservative estimate from the magazine puts the figure even higher — nearly $25,000,000 without including repeat customers (of which there are likely many).

    ———-

    “We Sent Alex Jones’ Infowars Supplements To A Lab. Here’s What’s In Them.” by Charlie Warzel; BuzzFeed; 08/09/2017

    “As Jones’ popularity has risen, so has his supplements business, which sources have told BuzzFeed News largely funds Jones’ highly controversial Infowars media empire — home to incendiary conspiracies including but not limited to #Pizzagate, that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked, and that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails — in addition to acting as a kind of lifestyle-brand complement to Jones’ particular brand of conspiracy-minded, fear-fueled programming.”

    So according to BuzzFeed’s sources, it’s those supplements that Yiannopoulos was hawking that largely funds Jones’ media empire. And it’s a rapidly growing empire so those supplements are presumably fueling that growth too, which doesn’t sound outlandish if the following estimates about how much Jones makes each year off these supplements are accurate:


    “He can sell 500 supplements in an hour,” a former employee told BuzzFeed News this spring. “It’s like QVC for conspiracy.” One estimate by New York magazine — which uses some back-of-the-envelope calculations based on the number of reviews of supplements on Jones’ Infowars Life Store — suggests that, with an average supplement price of $30, Jones could haul in $15,000,000 in sales over a two-year period. A second, less conservative estimate from the magazine puts the figure even higher — nearly $25,000,000 without including repeat customers (of which there are likely many).

    $15-25 million a year from selling InfoWars-brand supplements. That’s not chump change. It’s a chump fortune. And that’s what Milo Yiannopoulos is now selling to the InfoWars audience to rebuild his career. And, ironically, peddling overpriced supplements is far less harmful and deceptive than what Yiannopoulos was peddling before his downfall. After all, these supplements at least don’t appear to be filled with poisons:


    All of the test results were largely the same: The products are — more or less — accurately advertised. They don’t contain significantly more or less of a particular ingredient than listed on the bottles, and there are no surprise ingredients. They’re also reasonably safe, meaning they passed heavy metal contaminant screenings and tested free of stimulants, depressants, and other prohibited drugs.

    So there we go: Milo Yiannopoulos has shifted from peddling far-right poison to now peddling largely harmless, if overpriced, supplements. If those supplements weren’t funding a giant information-poison factory like InfoWars this downfall would almost be a positive turn for Milo.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 22, 2018, 4:22 pm
  6. Here’s another example of contemporary far-right youth outreach efforts. It’s a particularly disturbing example:

    A white supremacist was just caught working for a school middle Florida. again. They were caught largely because they were openly bragging about it. Openly but anonymously bragging about it on their white nationalist podcast. Thanks to some sleuthing by the blog Angry White Men and the Huffington Post, the anonymous podcaster who goes by the name “Tiana Dalichov” was identified as Dayanna Volitich, a 25-year-old social studies teach at Crystal River Middle School in Florida.

    During her most recent podcast, Volitich scoffed at the notion that there aren’t racial differences in IQ and boasted about how she injects her views into the classroom and just denies it to the principal when the parents complain. She also agreed with her guest’s suggestion that more white supremacists need to infiltrate the classroom:

    The Huffington Post

    Exclusive: Florida Public School Teacher Has A White Nationalist Podcast
    Dayanna Volitich suggests Muslims be eradicated from the earth, believes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories … and teaches middle school social studies.

    By Christopher Mathias, Jenna Amatulli, and Rebecca Klein
    03/03/2018 12:02 pm ET Updated

    UPDATE – March 4: Dayanna Volitich has been “removed from the classroom,” Citrus County School District Superintendent Sandra Himmel announced Sunday in a statement.

    “On Friday, March 2, 2018, the Citrus County School District was made aware [by a HuffPost reporter] of a concerning podcast,” Himmel said in the statement. “The Human Resources department was notified and an investigation was initiated immediately. The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing.”

    PREVIOUSLY:

    Dayanna Volitich, a 25-year-old social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School in Florida, has been secretly hosting the white nationalist podcast “Unapologetic” under the pseudonym “Tiana Dalichov” and bragging about teaching her views in a public school, HuffPost has discovered.

    In her most recent podcast on Feb. 26, a guest railed against diversity in schools, dismissing the idea that “a kid from Nigeria and a kid who came from Sweden are supposed to learn exactly the same” and have the “same IQ.” Volitich enthusiastically agreed with the guest, and went on to argue that “science” has proven that certain races are smarter than others.

    In the same episode, Volitich boasted about bringing her white nationalist beliefs into the classroom and hiding her ideology from administrators. She said that when parents complained to the school’s principal about how she is injecting political bias into the classroom, Volitich lied to the principal and said it was not true.

    “She believed me and backed off,” she said.

    Volitich also agreed with her guest’s assertion that more white supremacists need to infiltrate public schools and become teachers. “They don’t have to be vocal about their views, but get in there!” her guest said. “Be more covert and just start taking over those places.”

    “Right,” Volitich said. “I’m absolutely one of them.”

    After HuffPost made inquiries about Volitich’s white nationalism to the Citrus County School District on Friday, “Tiana Dalichov” tweeted that she “might disappear for a while” and then set her account to private. She also scrubbed the website for her podcast.

    HuffPost took screenshots of many of the racist and incendiary statements she made online.

    [see screenshot of tweet]
    [see screenshot of tweet]
    [see screenshot of tweet]
    [see screenshot of tweet]
    We also downloaded the episode of this week’s podcast, which you can listen to here (start at 01:30 for the aforementioned comments).
    [see audio clip of podcast]

    The school where Volitich works is overwhelmingly white. In the 2015-2016 school year, nearly 90 percent of the school’s students identified as white, per the National Center for Education Statistics. Only about 4 percent of students identify as black, and 3 percent identify as Hispanic. Most of the school’s students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

    Earlier this week, the blog Angry White Men, which tracks white nationalism, wrote a post about how someone named “Tiana Dalichov” had interviewed the prominent white supremacist media figure Lana Lokteff on this week’s episode of “Unapologetic.” Lokteff works for the media outfit Red Ice TV, which the Southern Poverty Law Center recently designated as a hate group.

    In the episode, “Tiana Dalichtov” talked openly about being a public school teacher, but didn’t reveal her real name or the school where she worked.

    HuffPost found a website promoting the writing of “Tiana Dalichov” that had a bio section listing the author’s home as Crystal City, Florida. Volitich is listed in public records as residing in Crystal City. She is also listed as being 25 years old. This year, when a fan tweeted at “Tiana Dalichov” asking how old she is, she responded that she was 25.

    On an episode of her podcast, she mentioned that last school year was her first year in the district where she works. Citrus County School District confirmed to HuffPost that Volitich started teaching in the district in August 2016.

    Volitich’s photo on the Crystal River Middle School website and social media profile photos of “Tiana Dalichov” appear to feature the same person. The photos show Volitich and “Dalichov” wearing the same set of earrings (seen at the top of this piece).

    Lastly, the names “Tiana Dalichov” and “Dayanna Volitich” share all but two of the same letters and the same number of syllables.

    In her podcast appearances and social media posts, Volitich talks regularly about being a teacher (even mentioning she teaches in Florida) and makes statements that are deeply alarming – particularly for someone tasked with shaping the minds of middle-school students.

    On this week’s podcast, Volitich said that when students ask her questions about current events, she responds with unbiased “facts.”

    But as “Tiana Dalichov,” Volitich has suggested “facts” such as that terrorism will continue unless Muslims are eradicated “from the face of the Earth.”

    [see screenshot of her calling for Muslims to be eradicated]
    [see screenshot of tweet where she talks about being penalized by Twitter for the second time a week for tweets about Islam]
    [see tweet blaming ‘Islam’ for terrorism]

    She has gushed about the work by anti-Semitic author Kevin MacDonald, and has said the “JQ is incredibly complex.” JQ stands for the “Jewish Question,” an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people have undue influence over the media, banking and politics that must somehow be addressed.

    [see screenshot of tweet praising Kevin MacDonald book]
    [see screenshot of tweet talking the ‘Jewish Question’]
    She has repeatedly praised, defended and retweeted neo-Nazis and white supremacists including David Duke, Arthur Jones, Patrick Casey, Mark Collett and Mike Peinovich, aka Mike Enoch.
    [see screenshot of David Duke tweet she retweeted]

    Many white supremacists across America today lead double lives, advocating loudly and anonymously for white supremacy and fascism online while holding down respectable jobs and doing their best to keep their online lives hidden.

    But over the past year, some of them have been exposed. In June, the principal of a charter school in New Orleans was fired from his job after videos surfaced that showed him wearing rings associated with white nationalism. He had similarly appeared on white nationalist podcasts.

    A former Catholic substitute teacher and field hockey coach in Maryland was fired earlier this year after his school learned that he was also employed by the National Policy Institute – white supremacist Richard Spencer’s think tank – and the website Altright.com. Like Volitich, he posted on social media under a pseudonym. Additionally, he was in charge of Spencer’s security detail during the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

    Volitich made clear on another podcast this year that her students know her political beliefs.

    On an episode of the conservative “Resistance Podcast,” she said her students often repeatedly asked her who she was going to vote for in the 2016 election.

    She said we wouldn’t tell the students, fearing retribution from administrators. But she said she told them, “if you can figure out who I voted for, you can put the name in this basket on my desk and we’ll see how many of you can figure it out … I will give your class a reward.’”

    She said all of her students guessed correctly by using “logic” and “engaging” with what she was teaching.

    ———-

    “Exclusive: Florida Public School Teacher Has A White Nationalist Podcast” by Christopher Mathias, Jenna Amatulli, and Rebecca Klein; The Huffington Post; 03/03/2018

    “Volitich also agreed with her guest’s assertion that more white supremacists need to infiltrate public schools and become teachers. “They don’t have to be vocal about their views, but get in there!” her guest said. “Be more covert and just start taking over those places.”

    “Be more covert and just start taking over those places.” That was Volitich’s message. Along with a general white supremacist message. And she apparently was quite proud of how she injected this message into the classroom:


    Dayanna Volitich, a 25-year-old social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School in Florida, has been secretly hosting the white nationalist podcast “Unapologetic” under the pseudonym “Tiana Dalichov” and bragging about teaching her views in a public school, HuffPost has discovered.

    In her most recent podcast on Feb. 26, a guest railed against diversity in schools, dismissing the idea that “a kid from Nigeria and a kid who came from Sweden are supposed to learn exactly the same” and have the “same IQ.” Volitich enthusiastically agreed with the guest, and went on to argue that “science” has proven that certain races are smarter than others.

    In the same episode, Volitich boasted about bringing her white nationalist beliefs into the classroom and hiding her ideology from administrators. She said that when parents complained to the school’s principal about how she is injecting political bias into the classroom, Volitich lied to the principal and said it was not true.

    “She believed me and backed off,” she said.

    And she apparently made her beliefs clear enough that all of her students knew exactly who she voted for in the 2016 presidential election (undoubtedly for Trump):


    Volitich made clear on another podcast this year that her students know her political beliefs.

    On an episode of the conservative “Resistance Podcast,” she said her students often repeatedly asked her who she was going to vote for in the 2016 election.

    She said we wouldn’t tell the students, fearing retribution from administrators. But she said she told them, “if you can figure out who I voted for, you can put the name in this basket on my desk and we’ll see how many of you can figure it out … I will give your class a reward.’”

    She said all of her students guessed correctly by using “logic” and “engaging” with what she was teaching.

    And this isn’t a somewhat ‘Alt Right’-ish very conservative person injecting her views into the classroom. She repeatedly praised, defended and retweeted neo-Nazis and white supremacists while posting as “Tiana Dalichov” on social media. And that’s presumably the viewpoint she was injecting into the classroom:


    But as “Tiana Dalichov,” Volitich has suggested “facts” such as that terrorism will continue unless Muslims are eradicated “from the face of the Earth.”

    [see screenshot of her calling for Muslims to be eradicated]
    [see screenshot of tweet where she talks about being penalized by Twitter for the second time a week for tweets about Islam]
    [see tweet blaming ‘Islam’ for terrorism]

    She has gushed about the work by anti-Semitic author Kevin MacDonald, and has said the “JQ is incredibly complex.” JQ stands for the “Jewish Question,” an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people have undue influence over the media, banking and politics that must somehow be addressed.

    She has repeatedly praised, defended and retweeted neo-Nazis and white supremacists including David Duke, Arthur Jones, Patrick Casey, Mark Collett and Mike Peinovich, aka Mike Enoch.

    And, of course, this is just one instance of the inevitable reality that white supremacists are going to be living double lives like this all over the US. And education is one of those areas that will be of high interest to such movements:


    Many white supremacists across America today lead double lives, advocating loudly and anonymously for white supremacy and fascism online while holding down respectable jobs and doing their best to keep their online lives hidden.

    But over the past year, some of them have been exposed. In June, the principal of a charter school in New Orleans was fired from his job after videos surfaced that showed him wearing rings associated with white nationalism. He had similarly appeared on white nationalist podcasts.

    A former Catholic substitute teacher and field hockey coach in Maryland was fired earlier this year after his school learned that he was also employed by the National Policy Institute – white supremacist Richard Spencer’s think tank – and the website Altright.com. Like Volitich, he posted on social media under a pseudonym. Additionally, he was in charge of Spencer’s security detail during the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

    So that’s another example of how the far-right is using social media to expand its reach: infiltrating school teachers into the classroom and then making podcasts where they brag about it and encourage others to do the same.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2018, 4:17 pm
  7. Here’s one of those stories that must be music to the Alt Right’s ears: according to a recent survey of Americans, almost a third of them think “substantially less” than 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and that the real death toll was at least 2 million or less. And for millennials this was 41 percent. Additionally, 45 percent of Americans were unable to name a single concentration camp, while two thirds of millennials didn’t know Auschwitz was a death camp. So at this point we just have to hope that this is more a reflection of a lack of general education than a reflection of the rise of the Alt Right and its Holocaust denialism:

    Newsweek

    One-Third of Americans Don’t Believe 6 Million Jews Were Murdered During the Holocaust

    By David Brennan On 4/12/18 at 10:39 AM

    One-third of Americans think “substantially less” than 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, according to a new survey that highlights a worrying lack of basic knowledge about the World War II-era genocide.

    The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, released the findings of its survey to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day. They show a notable lack of understanding among Americans, especially millennials, the group said.

    The Claims Conference said there are “critical gaps both in awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust” in American society, stressing that U.S. schools must provide more comprehensive education on the crimes.

    The survey shows that 70 percent of Americans believe people care less about the Holocaust than they used to. A majority, 58 percent, said they believe something like the Holocaust could happen again.

    Just under a third (31 percent) of those surveyed do not believe that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust and think the real death toll is at least 2 million lower. This was true for 41 percent of millennials.

    Adolf Hitler’s fascist Nazi regime killed approximately 6 million Jews before and during World War II. The Nazis also murdered millions of Eastern European civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, disabled people, homosexuals and political prisoners. Estimates of the total death toll reach as high at 15 million to 20 million people.

    Almost half (45 percent) of Americans were unable to name a single concentration camp, and the number was even worse for millennials (49 percent). Two-thirds (66 percent) of millennials were unable to explain what Auschwitz was. The death camp is one of the most infamous ones that existed in Nazi-ruled Europe, and its name has become synonymous with the genocide.

    Fifteen percent thought people should be allowed to display Nazi slogans or symbols today, while 11 percent said it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi views.

    These figures are especially concerning given the reported rise in hate group numbers numbers, activity and confidence in recent years. A February report from the Southern Poverty Law Center claimed that the number of hate groups in the U.S. has increased by 20 percent over the past three years. The number of neo-Nazi groups increased from 99 in 2016 to 121 in 2017, the center said.

    Around two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans believe there is anti-Semitism in the U.S. today, and a majority (51 percent) think there is either a great deal of (17 percent) or many (34 percent) neo-Nazis in the country today.

    Despite the worrying figures, 93 percent of those asked think the Holocaust should be taught in schools, while 96 percent believe that the genocide happened.

    The Claims Conference said its results are based on a representative sample of 1,350 American adults interviewed by phone and online. Respondents were selected randomly and reflected the demographics of the American adult population, it said.
    ———-

    “One-Third of Americans Don’t Believe 6 Million Jews Were Murdered During the Holocaust” by David Brennan; Newsweek; 04/12/2018 at 10:39 AM

    “Just under a third (31 percent) of those surveyed do not believe that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust and think the real death toll is at least 2 million lower. This was true for 41 percent of millennials.”

    Part of what makes the high number of respondents saying the real death toll of the Holocaust were 2 million or less is that the suggestion that the Holocaust was 2 million Jews or less is like a far right calling card. It would be one thing if a third of Americans said they had no idea who many Jews died in the Holocaust. But in this case it sounds like a large number of Americans were actually repeating far right talking points.

    At the same time, when you find that 45 percent of Americans couldn’t name a single concentration camp and two-thirds of millennials didn’t know what Auschwitz was, that points much more in the direction of Americans simply having no real knowledge about the topic:


    Almost half (45 percent) of Americans were unable to name a single concentration camp, and the number was even worse for millennials (49 percent). Two-thirds (66 percent) of millennials were unable to explain what Auschwitz was. The death camp is one of the most infamous ones that existed in Nazi-ruled Europe, and its name has become synonymous with the genocide.

    Additionally, 93 percent of those surveyed did appear to thing the Holocaust should be taught in schools, which seems like a good sign because at least that overwhelming majority of that third of Americans who question the 6 million statistic are still in favor or teaching about the Holocaust:


    Despite the worrying figures, 93 percent of those asked think the Holocaust should be taught in schools, while 96 percent believe that the genocide happened.

    At the same time, it’s hard to interpret whether or not the finding that a majority of Americans think there are either a “great deal of” or “many” neo-Nazis in America today is a sign of growing awareness of neo-Nazi extremism or a sign that people personal know a lot of neo-Nazis:


    Around two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans believe there is anti-Semitism in the U.S. today, and a majority (51 percent) think there is either a great deal of (17 percent) or many (34 percent) neo-Nazis in the country today.

    So is that reflecting the success of the Alt Right at staying in the news and maintaining a media/internet presence? Is it reflecting Donald Trump becoming president? Or do a large number of Americans actually personally know a lot of people who openly hold neo-Nazi views? Well, the survey gives us a hint about that, with 11 percent of respondents saying its acceptable to hold neo-Nazi views. And that 11 percent are going to know a lot of the other 89 percent of the public:


    Fifteen percent thought people should be allowed to display Nazi slogans or symbols today, while 11 percent said it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi views.

    So about 1-in-10 Americans think being a neo-Nazi is fine (which means they are basically neo-Nazis), while 1-in-3 Americans have wittingly or unwittingly absorbed the kind of understanding about the Holocaust that the far right has been pushing for decades and 2-in-3 millennials didn’t know anything about Auschwitz. And around half of Americans believe there are “many” or “a great deal of” neo-Nazis in America today.

    But it wasn’t all ominous. At least 9-in-10 Americans think the Holocaust should be taught in schools. That was positive. Because it turns out there was another pretty shocking finding in this survey regarding US millennials and their knowledge of the Holocaust: 1-in-5 US millennials weren’t sure they had heard about the Holocaust or knew what it was:

    Jewish Telegraphic Agency

    22% of US millennials haven’t heard of or are not sure if they have heard of the Holocaust, study finds

    April 12, 2018 10:15am

    (JTA) — Over a fifth of millennials in the United States have not heard of or are unsure if they have heard of the Holocaust, a study found.

    The survey, which was commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (also known as the Claims Conference), found that many Americans were unaware of basic facts about the Holocaust.

    The results were released Thursday, which marks Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. The study included 1,350 interviews with Americans aged 18 and over.

    While 6 million Jews are estimated killed in the Holocaust, 31 percent of all respondents and 41 percent of millennials, aged 18 to 34, believe that number is 2 million or less, according to the survey.

    Forty-five percent of all respondents could not name a concentration camp or ghetto from World War II, and 41 percent could not identify Auschwitz, a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps.

    Claims Conference President Julius Berman expressed concern about the lack of knowledge about the Holocaust among millennials.

    “We are alarmed that today’s generation lacks some of the basic knowledge about these atrocities,” he said in a statement.

    The group’s executive vice president, Greg Schneider, said the study’s findings highlighted the importance of Holocaust education.

    “There remain troubling gaps in Holocaust awareness while survivors are still with us; imagine when there are no longer survivors here to tell their stories,” Schneider said. “We must be committed to ensuring the horrors of the Holocaust and the memory of those who suffered so greatly are remembered, told and taught by future generations.”

    ———-

    “22% of US millennials haven’t heard of or are not sure if they have heard of the Holocaust, study finds”; Jewish Telegraphic Agency; 04/12/2018

    “Over a fifth of millennials in the United States have not heard of or are unsure if they have heard of the Holocaust, a study found.”

    So 1-in-5 millennials, aged ~22-37 according to the vague definition of what constitutes a “millennial”, have basically no idea what the Holocaust is.

    But, again, at least 9-in-10 Americans appear to agree that education about the Holocaust should be taught. Maybe America should actually do that:

    Jewish Telegraphic Agency

    Lawmakers from 20 states pledge to mandate Holocaust education

    April 24, 2017 12:32pm

    (JTA) — Some 26 legislators representing 20 states have committed to introduce legislation that would require public schools to teach about the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide and other genocides.

    The states are among the 42 in the United States that do not already require education on genocide awareness and prevention, the New York-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said in announcing that it had obtained the commitments as part of its 50 State Genocide Education Project to mandate genocide education in public schools across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    The center made the announcement on Monday, observed this year both as Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

    It asked the state legislators to sign a pledge to introduce legislation that would require genocide education, or in some cases to strengthen a state’s existing requirement through a commission or task force. The 26 legislators have signed the pledge, the center said in a statement.

    The 20 states are Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

    Three states — Florida, Illinois and New Jersey — require genocide education from grades K-12, and have a state commission or task force to keep genocide education comprehensive and up to date. California and Michigan require genocide education from grades 7 or 8 through 12, and have a state commission or task force. Indiana, New York and Rhode Island mandate genocide education from grades 7 or 8 through 12 but do not have a commission or task force.

    ———-
    “Lawmakers from 20 states pledge to mandate Holocaust education”; Jewish Telegraphic Agency; 04/24/2017

    “Three states — Florida, Illinois and New Jersey — require genocide education from grades K-12, and have a state commission or task force to keep genocide education comprehensive and up to date. California and Michigan require genocide education from grades 7 or 8 through 12, and have a state commission or task force. Indiana, New York and Rhode Island mandate genocide education from grades 7 or 8 through 12 but do not have a commission or task force.”

    Yep, just 8 US states, as of 2017, actually mandated some sort of Holocaust education in American public schools. And for the other 42 states? Well, as the above poll made tragically clear, it’s optional.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 12, 2018, 2:47 pm
  8. Here’s a reminder that YouTube is far from the only major internet platform that’s friendly to the far right: A new study of the Nazi material available on Amazon has found far more than just hate literature available for sale. Everything from ‘hatecore’ white power music to baby onesies feature burning crosses are available. There’s even a children’s book written by George Lincoln Rockwell available, with no indication of the nature of the book’s content in the description. Amazon’s self-publishing CreateSpace tool is also being used by white supremacists to publish a variety of hate literature. And there’s no shortage of Nazi items for sale, like leather WWII German Waffen SS replica hat, swastika necklaces, Nazi swords, and paraphernalia with the Nazi skull logo.

    And, yes, this all goes against Amazon’s policies. But as the study also found, Amazon doesn’t appear to actually enforce those policies unless there’s a public outcry:

    The Daily Beast

    Nazi Children’s Books, KKK Onesies Are for Sale on Amazon
    Hate propaganda marketed for kids is sold through the online retailer, researchers found, and they’ve so far dodged censors.

    Kelly Weill
    07.06.18 1:28 PM ET

    Despite its own policies against hateful content, Amazon still sells racist products—some of them marketed at children, a new study finds.

    Baby onesies featuring a burning cross, swastika necklaces, and “costumes” depicting a black man being lynched have all found a recent home on Amazon, according to a new study by the Action Center on Race and the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families. The study also found a trove of white supremacist literature that has been created on Amazon’s publishing platform. Those products lingered on the site despite Amazon’s policy prohibiting “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views,” the company states on its website.

    Amazon, which takes a cut of sales, often doesn’t take action against the products unless facing public backlash, the study found. While some of the products cited in the study have since been removed from Amazon, others remain for sale on the site.

    “Third party sellers who use our Marketplace service must follow our guidelines and those who don’t are subject to swift action including potential removal of their account,” an Amazon spokesperson told The Daily Beast of the study.

    Retailers aren’t exactly hiding their Nazi products. A “leather WWII German Waffen SS” replica hat was allowed on the site, despite it being modeled after Nazi uniforms, the study found. The same goes for a swastika necklace, Nazi swords, and paraphernalia with the “Totenkopf,” a Nazi skull logo that has since been adopted by violent neo-Nazi groups.

    A number of those products were marketed at children, including a series of custom Legos modified to look like Nazi troops, and a “for girls” backpack featuring Pepe, a cartoon frog that has become a symbol of the far right. The Pepe on the girls’ backpack is wearing a Nazi SS cap. Other Pepe products flagged in the study include a Pepe-fied Donald Trump children’s backpack and a baby romper featuring Pepe in a turban and thick beard for an anti-Muslim variant on the meme. Baby rompers featuring burning crosses, images often associated with the Ku Klux Klan, were also available.

    Amazon also hosts neo-Nazi children’s literature. The study found Amazon selling physical and Kindle versions of The Fable of the Ducks and the Hens, a children’s book by George Lincoln Rockwell, the late founder of the American Nazi Party.

    “The description on Amazon’s site makes no mention of Rockwell’s background or the racist propaganda in the book,” the study reads. “Parents considering the book would see it described as a ‘witty,’ colorfully illustrated story about ducks whose lives are ruined by ‘an influx of pushy, scheming hens.’ Those taking a closer look might notice a user review approvingly describing the book as a ‘Great National Socialist Kids book’ that ‘teaches our children to be careful and don’t let refugees into your country’ and illustrates how ‘we’ are ‘screwed by the colored birds!’”

    Rockwell’s name should, in theory, be easy to screen for. One of America’s most prominent Nazis, Rockwell is frequently name-checked by prominent racists including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. His children’s book even appears in full on the American Nazi Party’s website.

    Amazon isn’t just selling white supremacist literature. It’s also giving racists the tools to create those texts through CreateSpace, a self-publishing platform.

    “At least seven SPLC-identified hate groups are publishing materials in Amazon Kindle format as of June 2018, per a review of Amazon’s site,” the study found, referring to the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The white nationalist publishing house Counter-Currents has 50 titles available in Kindle format.”

    Other white supremacist books include a “bloodthirsty white nationalist fantasy” novel from Kyle Bristow, a lawyer who previously represented white nationalist Richard Spencer, and 18 books by the neo-Nazi Billy Roper. One of his books advertises tips on how to become an influential figure in the white supremacist movement.

    Amazon’s music-streaming services also host white power or “hatecore” bands. Although some of those bands have slightly modified their song titles to appear more Amazon-friendly (one song title cited in the study was modified from “Die Jew Die” to “Die Die”), the artists go under their real band names, which are known for “hatecore” music. A hatecore record label that owns the website whitepower.com “maintain[s] an entire storefront on Amazon up for sale.”

    Amazon sometimes removes content that violates its hateful product policies. But often the company only does so after facing serious backlash, the study found. In 2015, following a Washington Post exposé, Amazon booted a hate group off an Amazon-run fundraising service. The SPLC later noted that it had been trying to oust that same group from the service for years, but that it had no luck until the Post went public with the story.

    ———-

    “Nazi Children’s Books, KKK Onesies Are for Sale on Amazon” by Kelly Weill; The Daily Beast; 07/06/2018

    “Amazon, which takes a cut of sales, often doesn’t take action against the products unless facing public backlash, the study found. While some of the products cited in the study have since been removed from Amazon, others remain for sale on the site.”

    Yep, while all of these products violate Amazon’s terms of service, given how a number of these items are blatantly Nazi products, like a swastika necklace, it appears that the only real violation of Amazon’s terms of service is prompting a public backlash, at which point the offending items will be removed:


    Retailers aren’t exactly hiding their Nazi products. A “leather WWII German Waffen SS” replica hat was allowed on the site, despite it being modeled after Nazi uniforms, the study found. The same goes for a swastika necklace, Nazi swords, and paraphernalia with the “Totenkopf,” a Nazi skull logo that has since been adopted by violent neo-Nazi groups.

    Amazon sometimes removes content that violates its hateful product policies. But often the company only does so after facing serious backlash, the study found. In 2015, following a Washington Post exposé, Amazon booted a hate group off an Amazon-run fundraising service. The SPLC later noted that it had been trying to oust that same group from the service for years, but that it had no luck until the Post went public with the story.

    So now that it’s now known that a number of these Nazi products are targeting children might we see the kind of sustained public backlash that’s apparently going to be required for Amazon to preemptively remove these kinds of products? We’ll see, but if Nazi products for babies can’t generate that public backlash pretty much nothing will:


    Baby onesies featuring a burning cross, swastika necklaces, and “costumes” depicting a black man being lynched have all found a recent home on Amazon, according to a new study by the Action Center on Race and the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families. The study also found a trove of white supremacist literature that has been created on Amazon’s publishing platform. Those products lingered on the site despite Amazon’s policy prohibiting “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views,” the company states on its website

    A number of those products were marketed at children, including a series of custom Legos modified to look like Nazi troops, and a “for girls” backpack featuring Pepe, a cartoon frog that has become a symbol of the far right. The Pepe on the girls’ backpack is wearing a Nazi SS cap. Other Pepe products flagged in the study include a Pepe-fied Donald Trump children’s backpack and a baby romper featuring Pepe in a turban and thick beard for an anti-Muslim variant on the meme. Baby rompers featuring burning crosses, images often associated with the Ku Klux Klan, were also available.

    Adding the scandal is that, while a swastika necklace is obviously neo-Nazi in nature, some products obscured their Nazi origins, like a children’s book by George Lincoln Rockwell that made no mention of the fact that Rockwell was a leading American Nazi:


    Amazon also hosts neo-Nazi children’s literature. The study found Amazon selling physical and Kindle versions of The Fable of the Ducks and the Hens, a children’s book by George Lincoln Rockwell, the late founder of the American Nazi Party.

    “The description on Amazon’s site makes no mention of Rockwell’s background or the racist propaganda in the book,” the study reads. “Parents considering the book would see it described as a ‘witty,’ colorfully illustrated story about ducks whose lives are ruined by ‘an influx of pushy, scheming hens.’ Those taking a closer look might notice a user review approvingly describing the book as a ‘Great National Socialist Kids book’ that ‘teaches our children to be careful and don’t let refugees into your country’ and illustrates how ‘we’ are ‘screwed by the colored birds!’”

    Rockwell’s name should, in theory, be easy to screen for. One of America’s most prominent Nazis, Rockwell is frequently name-checked by prominent racists including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. His children’s book even appears in full on the American Nazi Party’s website.

    Then there’s the CreateSapce self-publishing platform that’s already become a place for “bloodthirsty white nationalist fantasy” novels. So who knows, the next Turner Diaries-style book that inspires a domestic terror attack might first show up on Amazon:


    Amazon isn’t just selling white supremacist literature. It’s also giving racists the tools to create those texts through CreateSpace, a self-publishing platform.

    “At least seven SPLC-identified hate groups are publishing materials in Amazon Kindle format as of June 2018, per a review of Amazon’s site,” the study found, referring to the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The white nationalist publishing house Counter-Currents has 50 titles available in Kindle format.”

    Other white supremacist books include a “bloodthirsty white nationalist fantasy” novel from Kyle Bristow, a lawyer who previously represented white nationalist Richard Spencer, and 18 books by the neo-Nazi Billy Roper. One of his books advertises tips on how to become an influential figure in the white supremacist movement.

    And for the white power musicians there’s Amazon’s music-streaming services. You might need to change the title of your songs from “Die Jew Die”, to just “Die Die”, but that appears to be all you’ll need to do:


    Amazon’s music-streaming services also host white power or “hatecore” bands. Although some of those bands have slightly modified their song titles to appear more Amazon-friendly (one song title cited in the study was modified from “Die Jew Die” to “Die Die”), the artists go under their real band names, which are known for “hatecore” music. A hatecore record label that owns the website whitepower.com “maintain[s] an entire storefront on Amazon up for sale.”

    So that was all part of what the authors of this study discovered. It’s pretty much a worst case scenario (Nazi onesies?!).

    So let’s hope there are a number of very regular high-profile follow up studies on the topic since that appears to be the only thing that will convince Amazon to take seriously the fact that it’s allowed itself to become a Nazi dream bazaar.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 12, 2018, 9:22 pm
  9. Here’s another an example of how modern technology is being used to propagate far right worldviews with wild success: The ‘QAnon’ phenomena now has an app dedicated to alerting people when “Q” leaves a new “crumb” for the public. “Q” is, of course, the mysterious figure at the center of the QAnon story who regularly feeds the public clues about how Donald Trump and the military are preparing for mass arrests of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, numerous people in Hollywood and a large number of other ‘elites’ who are basically described as being child-abusing members of the Illuminati and sending them all to Gitmo. So it’s pretty much the sequel to ‘PizzaGate’ and it’s growing increasingly popular on the American right-wing.

    Recall the recent story about Trump promoting the work of Liz Crokin, a far right ‘journalist’ who claims to have reliable sources in law enforcement who assure her that New York City policy possess videos of Hillary Clinton eating live children. That was all part of this QAnon thing.

    And now QAnon has an app. A wildly successful app too. As the following article notes, the QDrops app has “lingered at the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store for months”. At one point after it was launched in April it was the number 10 app and number 1 entertainment app at Apple’s App Store. It was also in the Google Play Store entertainment section’s top 25 apps. And the popularity of this app means Google and Apple have actually made a decent amount of money off of an app promoting a far right conspiracy theory that alleges that almost all prominent liberals are secret Illuminati child abusers and Trump and the military are planning on mass arresting them and sending them to Gitmo because the app costs 99 cents and Google and Apple get a cut of that:

    Gizmodo

    Apple Yanks QAnon-Themed App From App Store After Reporters Notice, Still on Play Store Though

    Tom McKay
    07/17/2018 12:45am

    Apple has reportedly pulled QDrops, an app which sent alerts about the absolutely inane QAnon conspiracy theory, from its App Store after an NBC News inquiry into why the hell it and Google’s Play Store were profiting off of it.

    QAnon is an incredibly elaborate online conspiracist yarn that more or less boils down to a series of posts on message board 4chan and its bastard offspring 8chan from “Q,” supposedly a government agent with high security clearance, claiming that Donald Trump is preparing to turn the tables on deep state agents guilty of everything from child sex trafficking to false flag mass shootings in a coming purge called “The Storm.” It is, like its predecessor Pizzagate, extremist horseshit, but that hasn’t stopped it from acquiring a huge online following including celebrities like Roseanne Barr and inspiring devotees to ill-advised stunts with firearms.

    QDrops, developed by husband-and-wife team Richard and Adalita Brown of North Carolina under the name Tiger Team Inc., is a 99-cent app that updates people on the latest ravings to emerge from the QAnon community. According to NBC, it “lingered at the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store for months, with both tech giants receiving a cut of the revenue in the process.” At one point soon after its launch in April, NBC added, it was the number 10 app on the App Store, and number one in the entertainment section—and it was in the Play Store entertainment section’s top 25 apps.

    In other words, both Apple and Google likely made a fair chunk of change off of QDrops.

    Apple removed the app as of Sunday. In a statement to NBC, company spokeswoman Stephanie Saffer said the app had violated App Store policies, though was not specific on which:

    The App Store has always supported all points of view being represented, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions and the quality of the experience is great. We have published clear guidelines that developers must follow in order for their apps to be distributed by the App Store, designed to foster innovation and provide a safe environment to all of our users. We will take swift action to remove any apps that violate our guidelines or the law—we take this responsibility very seriously.

    The QDrops Twitter account remains active, with the developers claiming they intend to have it back on the store soon.

    As some of you know by now, QDrops has been pulled from the App Store due to this anti-Q article https://t.co/morRm0FUGk We are working with Apple to alleviate any concerns they may have so that we can be put back on the store. 1/2— QDrops App (@qdropsapp) July 16, 2018

    As noted by Apple Insider, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue told attendees at the South by Southwest festival in March that the company believes “free speech is important, but we don’t think white supremacist speech or hate speech is free speech that ought to be out there” on its platform.

    QDrop remains available on the Google Play Store.

    Other big tech companies including Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and YouTube have all faced their own accusations of promoting or profiting off misinformation and hate speech. Apple, which is primarily in the business of making hardware, has largely avoided the controversies courted by its brethren.

    ———-

    “Apple Yanks QAnon-Themed App From App Store After Reporters Notice, Still on Play Store Though” by Tom McKay; Gizmodo; 07/17/2018

    “Apple has reportedly pulled QDrops, an app which sent alerts about the absolutely inane QAnon conspiracy theory, from its App Store after an NBC News inquiry into why the hell it and Google’s Play Store were profiting off of it.”

    Yes, one of the top-selling apps for iPhones and Android phones is an app that simply alerts when when “Q” sends out a new “crumb” about how Donald Trump is secretly preparing for “the Storm”, when large numbers of famous people (mostly liberals and Hollywood celebrities) will be rounded up and thrown into Gitmo for running child sex rings and basically being the Illuminati.

    So how did all this get started? On 4chan, of course:


    QAnon is an incredibly elaborate online conspiracist yarn that more or less boils down to a series of posts on message board 4chan and its bastard offspring 8chan from “Q,” supposedly a government agent with high security clearance, claiming that Donald Trump is preparing to turn the tables on deep state agents guilty of everything from child sex trafficking to false flag mass shootings in a coming purge called “The Storm.” It is, like its predecessor Pizzagate, extremist horseshit, but that hasn’t stopped it from acquiring a huge online following including celebrities like Roseanne Barr and inspiring devotees to ill-advised stunts with firearms.

    And this QDrops app, which costs 99-cents, was the number 10 app on Apple’s App Store after launching in April and the one app for “entertainment”. For Google’s Play Store it was in the top 25 for entertainment apps. And Apple and Google got a cut of all over those 99-cent purchases:


    QDrops, developed by husband-and-wife team Richard and Adalita Brown of North Carolina under the name Tiger Team Inc., is a 99-cent app that updates people on the latest ravings to emerge from the QAnon community. According to NBC, it “lingered at the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store for months, with both tech giants receiving a cut of the revenue in the process.” At one point soon after its launch in April, NBC added, it was the number 10 app on the App Store, and number one in the entertainment section—and it was in the Play Store entertainment section’s top 25 apps.

    In other words, both Apple and Google likely made a fair chunk of change off of QDrops.

    While Apple has pulled the app from its store now, the app developers are assuring people that they are working with Apple to get the app back on the store soon:


    Apple removed the app as of Sunday. In a statement to NBC, company spokeswoman Stephanie Saffer said the app had violated App Store policies, though was not specific on which:

    The App Store has always supported all points of view being represented, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions and the quality of the experience is great. We have published clear guidelines that developers must follow in order for their apps to be distributed by the App Store, designed to foster innovation and provide a safe environment to all of our users. We will take swift action to remove any apps that violate our guidelines or the law—we take this responsibility very seriously.

    The QDrops Twitter account remains active, with the developers claiming they intend to have it back on the store soon.

    As some of you know by now, QDrops has been pulled from the App Store due to this anti-Q article https://t.co/morRm0FUGk We are working with Apple to alleviate any concerns they may have so that we can be put back on the store. 1/2— QDrops App (@qdropsapp) July 16, 2018

    As noted by Apple Insider, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue told attendees at the South by Southwest festival in March that the company believes “free speech is important, but we don’t think white supremacist speech or hate speech is free speech that ought to be out there” on its platform.

    And it’s still available on Google’s app store:


    QDrop remains available on the Google Play Store.

    And this is where we are. Major tech companies are profiting off of the mainstreaming of far right fantasies.

    So how did we get here? Well, putting aside the long history of unhinged theology and right-wing conspiracies (that typically involve a great deal of projection) that have been priming the American psyche to accept all sort of high fantasy as fact, this particular fantasy only really emerge in October of 2017 when someone anonymously started posting on on 4Chan, a major stomping ground of the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis and trollish fellow travelers, claiming to be someone with a high-level government security clearance and leaving cryptic clues, or “breadcrumbs”. Clues about how Donald Trump and the military are getting ready to suddenly arrest a global cabal of (mostly liberal) elites that are responsible for almost all the evil in the world, i.e. the Illuminati. And that narrative has so captured the imaginations of American conservatives that there is an entire industry dedicated to analyzing these “breadcrumbs”:

    The Daily Beast

    What Is QAnon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained
    From celebrities to the grassroots, the right is obsessed with the idea there is a secret conspiracy where Hillary is headed for Gitmo. Here’s everything you need to know.

    Will Sommer
    07.06.18 10:03 PM ET

    Plotters in the deep state tried to shoot down Air Force One and foil President Trump’s North Korea summit. A cabal of global elites, including top figures in Hollywood, the Democratic Party, and the intelligence agencies, are responsible for nearly all the evil in the world. And now Trump is going to fix it all with thousands of sealed indictments, sending the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama straight to Guantanamo Bay.

    Or at least that’s how the world is going for the believers of QAnon, the complex pro-Trump conspiracy theory that’s starting to having unpredictable effects in real life. The real news can be bad for Trump, but in QAnon-world, the president and his supporters really are getting sick of winning.

    ——Who Is “Q”?—–

    QAnon springs from a series of cryptic clues that started to be posted online in October 2017. Starting on 4Chan before migrating to the even more fringe 8Chan, the anonymous person behind the clues goes by “Q,” a reference to a high-level government security clearance. The “Anon” in “QAnon” refers to both Q himself, and to Q’s nameless supporters, the “anons.”

    Q is supposed to be revealing this top-secret information via the clues, which QAnon fans have dubbed “breadcrumbs.” They’re written in a short bursts, in a reference-heavy style that’s part poem, part ransom note. Here’s one example from June:

    Think SC vote to confirm (coming).

    No Name action.

    Every dog has its day.

    Enjoy the show.

    Q

    “No Name” is Q’s nickname for John McCain, and “SC” is obviously the Supreme Court. As for “every dog has its day” — that’s the kind of cryptic Q remark that has spawned a cottage industry of PDFs and 24/7 livestreams analyzing the crumbs.

    Since Q could be anyone with internet access and a working knowledge of conspiracy theories, there’s no reason to think that Q is a member of the Trump administration rather than, say, a troll or YouTube huckster. But incredibly, lots of people believe it.

    In April, hundreds of QAnon believers staged a march in downtown Washington, D.C. with a vague demand for “transparency” from the Justice Department. “Q” shirts have become frequent sites at Trump rallies, with one QAnon believer scoring VIP access. In June, an armed man in an homemade armored truck shut down a highway near the Hoover Dam and held up signs referencing QAnon. And celebrities like comedian Roseanne Barr and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling have signed on.

    The Curt Schilling Show – Breitbart https://t.co/qJFV023jiS via @BreitbartNews talk with a lawyer whose firm has cases in front of the Supreme Court and hear about latest ruling on 1st amendment as well as NOAA abandoning climate change hoax. On iTunes later today— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) June 28, 2018

    Also we open up a discussion about “Q” and why the anger and vitriol by liberals at the mere mention if it really is the fake conspiracy they claim?— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) June 28, 2018

    QAnon is unusual, according to University of Miami professor Joseph Uscinski, because it offers Republicans an alternate view of the world when they already control nearly the entire government. Usually, “conspiracy theories are for losers,” Uscinski said,

    “Normally you don’t expect the winning party to use them, except when they’re in trouble,” Uscinski said.

    —–The Origin Story—–

    Since Q’s “breadcrumbs” are so vague, it’s impossible to nail down exactly what the storyline is supposed to be. But the general story, outlined in a pro-QAnon video endorsed by Schilling, is that every president before Trump was a “criminal president” in league with all the nefarious groups of conspiracy theories past: the global banking elite, death squads operating on orders from Hillary Clinton, deep-state intelligence operatives, and Pizzagate-style pedophile rings. In an effort to break this cabal’s grip, according to Q, the military convinced Trump to run for president.

    Now Trump and his allies in the military are poised to arrest all these wrongdoers, shipping many of them off to Guantanamo Bay. That coming purge has been dubbed “The Storm” by QAnon fans, who claim Trump referenced it when he referenced “the calm before the storm” in October.

    While the Storm is at the center of the QAnon narrative, it’s also flexible enough to fold in just anything that makes the news. Q is fond of hinting that each mass shooting is a false-flag attack organized by the cabal, and he used a blurry webcam picture of a flash of light near the Puget Sound to claim that the deep state had tried to shoot down Trump’s plane.

    QAnon fans are obsessed with finding proof that whoever is behind Q is actually connected to the Trump administration. During one Trump trip to Asia, Q posted some pictures of islands, which supporters seized on as proof that Q was on Air Force One. Q is also fond of predicting Trump tweets that, in retrospect, don’t exactly require top-secret clearance — that Trump will tweet “Saturday” on Small Business Saturday, or “Juneteenth” on June 19th.

    Fans also point to Trump using phrases “predicted” by Q as proof of the story’s legitimacy. After one supporter requested that Trump used the phrase “tip top” in the State of the Union Address, While Trump never said “tip top” in that speech, QAnon supporters felt vindicated three months later when Trump said it instead at the White House Easter Egg Roll. QAnon supporters have even claimed Trump uses his hands to make a “Q” sign as a signal to them.

    QAnon supporters love to speculate about Q’s identity, predicting that it’s either a highly placed White House staffer or even Trump himself. Other, more mundane theories about Q’s identity abound, but there’s not much compelling evidence pointing in any direction.

    Even when Q’s predictions disappoint, the QAnon community keeps going. Q hyped up the release of the Justice Department’s inspector general report on the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation, for example, promising that it would contain the promised “Storm” of revelations about top Democrats and the deep state. When the report fizzled, however, Q promised that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a frequent target of QAnon jabs, had tampered with the report. Trump had the real report, Q claimed, and that report’s release would solve everything.

    —–Decoding It All—–

    While QAnon has been the breakout conspiracy theory of the Trump era, not everyone on the right is on board. The farcical nature of QAnon’s clues has tended to alienate many younger, more internet-savvy people on the right, including members of the alt-right. QAnon also alienated a swathe of the right-wing conspiracy theory internet after Q denounced other internet personalities who had been speculating about the clues, accusing them of trying to profit off the movement. But QAnon has been a hit with older Trump supporters, leading to tech-illiterate baby boomers looking to spread the QAnon gospel asking for help in internet forums on “how to meme.”

    Nine months after it started, QAnon world has accumulated an internal language of its own. The moderators of the QAnon forums and the interpreters of the clues call themselves “bakers,” a reference to the “breadcrumbs.” QAnon followers are fixated on which public officials are “white hats” or “black hats,” meaning whether they’re really working for Trump or are agents of the cabal. They urge one another to “follow the white rabbit,” which made Trump delivering his “tip top” speech next to the Easter Bunny all the more portentous.

    QAnon believers even have a slogan, “Where we go one, we go all,” which they often abbreviate to “WWG1WGA.” It’s become a rallying cry for QAnon fans that Q has attributed to President John F. Kennedy, although it actually appears to come from the 1996 action movie White Squall.

    we r the army of truth-wwg1wga— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) June 20, 2018

    ———-

    “What Is QAnon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained” by Will Sommer; The Daily Beast; 07/06/2018

    “Plotters in the deep state tried to shoot down Air Force One and foil President Trump’s North Korea summit. A cabal of global elites, including top figures in Hollywood, the Democratic Party, and the intelligence agencies, are responsible for nearly all the evil in the world. And now Trump is going to fix it all with thousands of sealed indictments, sending the likes of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama straight to Guantanamo Bay.”

    A far right fantasy – the mass arrest of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood celebrities, etc – being successfully peddled as a secret reality that’s actually playing out in real time: behold, the power of deep trolling:


    Or at least that’s how the world is going for the believers of QAnon, the complex pro-Trump conspiracy theory that’s starting to having unpredictable effects in real life. The real news can be bad for Trump, but in QAnon-world, the president and his supporters really are getting sick of winning.

    ——Who Is “Q”?—–

    QAnon springs from a series of cryptic clues that started to be posted online in October 2017. Starting on 4Chan before migrating to the even more fringe 8Chan, the anonymous person behind the clues goes by “Q,” a reference to a high-level government security clearance. The “Anon” in “QAnon” refers to both Q himself, and to Q’s nameless supporters, the “anons.”

    Q is supposed to be revealing this top-secret information via the clues, which QAnon fans have dubbed “breadcrumbs.” They’re written in a short bursts, in a reference-heavy style that’s part poem, part ransom note. Here’s one example from June:

    Think SC vote to confirm (coming).

    No Name action.

    Every dog has its day.

    Enjoy the show.

    Q

    “No Name” is Q’s nickname for John McCain, and “SC” is obviously the Supreme Court. As for “every dog has its day” — that’s the kind of cryptic Q remark that has spawned a cottage industry of PDFs and 24/7 livestreams analyzing the crumbs.

    Since Q could be anyone with internet access and a working knowledge of conspiracy theories, there’s no reason to think that Q is a member of the Trump administration rather than, say, a troll or YouTube huckster. But incredibly, lots of people believe it.

    Just think of how many future mass hoaxes this has already inspired. “Q” could be anyone with an internet connection and working knowledge of conspiracy theories, and yet they managed to capture the imaginations of a growing number of Americans who really do seem to believe this. Or at least are very enthusiastically pretending to believe it for the fun (sort of like pro-wrestling, perhaps?).

    And given that Trump is the hero of this narrative, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Trump rallies are increasingly populated by people wearing “Q” shirts. And then there’s there prominent conservative icons, like Curt Schilling and Roseann Barr, who are openly endorsed the story:


    In April, hundreds of QAnon believers staged a march in downtown Washington, D.C. with a vague demand for “transparency” from the Justice Department. “Q” shirts have become frequent sites at Trump rallies, with one QAnon believer scoring VIP access. In June, an armed man in an homemade armored truck shut down a highway near the Hoover Dam and held up signs referencing QAnon. And celebrities like comedian Roseanne Barr and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling have signed on.

    The Curt Schilling Show – Breitbart https://t.co/qJFV023jiS via @BreitbartNews talk with a lawyer whose firm has cases in front of the Supreme Court and hear about latest ruling on 1st amendment as well as NOAA abandoning climate change hoax. On iTunes later today— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) June 28, 2018

    Also we open up a discussion about “Q” and why the anger and vitriol by liberals at the mere mention if it really is the fake conspiracy they claim?— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) June 28, 2018

    QAnon is unusual, according to University of Miami professor Joseph Uscinski, because it offers Republicans an alternate view of the world when they already control nearly the entire government. Usually, “conspiracy theories are for losers,” Uscinski said,

    “Normally you don’t expect the winning party to use them, except when they’re in trouble,” Uscinski said.

    And note how the QAnon narrative is basically the Alex Jones narrative: that ALL presidents in the US before Trump were all part of the same criminal cabal. A cabal running death squads and Pizzagate-style pedophile rings. So it’s a narrative selling Trump supporters a ‘burn it all down, it’s all corrupt’ message that elevates Trump to savior status:


    —–The Origin Story—–

    Since Q’s “breadcrumbs” are so vague, it’s impossible to nail down exactly what the storyline is supposed to be. But the general story, outlined in a pro-QAnon video endorsed by Schilling, is that every president before Trump was a “criminal president” in league with all the nefarious groups of conspiracy theories past: the global banking elite, death squads operating on orders from Hillary Clinton, deep-state intelligence operatives, and Pizzagate-style pedophile rings. In an effort to break this cabal’s grip, according to Q, the military convinced Trump to run for president.

    Now Trump and his allies in the military are poised to arrest all these wrongdoers, shipping many of them off to Guantanamo Bay. That coming purge has been dubbed “The Storm” by QAnon fans, who claim Trump referenced it when he referenced “the calm before the storm” in October.

    While the Storm is at the center of the QAnon narrative, it’s also flexible enough to fold in just anything that makes the news. Q is fond of hinting that each mass shooting is a false-flag attack organized by the cabal, and he used a blurry webcam picture of a flash of light near the Puget Sound to claim that the deep state had tried to shoot down Trump’s plane.

    As we should also expect, many QAnon fans suspect Trump himself is “Q”:


    QAnon fans are obsessed with finding proof that whoever is behind Q is actually connected to the Trump administration. During one Trump trip to Asia, Q posted some pictures of islands, which supporters seized on as proof that Q was on Air Force One. Q is also fond of predicting Trump tweets that, in retrospect, don’t exactly require top-secret clearance — that Trump will tweet “Saturday” on Small Business Saturday, or “Juneteenth” on June 19th.

    Fans also point to Trump using phrases “predicted” by Q as proof of the story’s legitimacy. After one supporter requested that Trump used the phrase “tip top” in the State of the Union Address, While Trump never said “tip top” in that speech, QAnon supporters felt vindicated three months later when Trump said it instead at the White House Easter Egg Roll. QAnon supporters have even claimed Trump uses his hands to make a “Q” sign as a signal to them.

    QAnon supporters love to speculate about Q’s identity, predicting that it’s either a highly placed White House staffer or even Trump himself. Other, more mundane theories about Q’s identity abound, but there’s not much compelling evidence pointing in any direction.

    Even when Q’s predictions disappoint, the QAnon community keeps going. Q hyped up the release of the Justice Department’s inspector general report on the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation, for example, promising that it would contain the promised “Storm” of revelations about top Democrats and the deep state. When the report fizzled, however, Q promised that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a frequent target of QAnon jabs, had tampered with the report. Trump had the real report, Q claimed, and that report’s release would solve everything.

    And in case it wasn’t clear that Trump’s supporters are the primary audience for this, note the demographic that appears to be most enthralled by QAnon: older Trump supporters:


    While QAnon has been the breakout conspiracy theory of the Trump era, not everyone on the right is on board. The farcical nature of QAnon’s clues has tended to alienate many younger, more internet-savvy people on the right, including members of the alt-right. QAnon also alienated a swathe of the right-wing conspiracy theory internet after Q denounced other internet personalities who had been speculating about the clues, accusing them of trying to profit off the movement. But QAnon has been a hit with older Trump supporters, leading to tech-illiterate baby boomers looking to spread the QAnon gospel asking for help in internet forums on “how to meme.”

    So if your Trump-supporting grandparents are anxiously asking you for help getting a new app installed on their smartphone, you might want to check and see which app before helping them. Because helping someone install an app that feeds their dangerous far right fantasies isn’t actually helping.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 17, 2018, 3:30 pm
  10. Whenever President Trump does one of his ‘campaign-style rallies’ – where Trump rants for an hour or so in front of a bunch of Trump supporters – there’s usually a post-rally assessment of some sort on the damage done to the social fabric of the country.

    Usually that damage assessment focuses on Trump’s attempts to undermine the free press and portray anyone who isn’t a Trump loyalist as some sort of threat to the country. And following Trump’s rally in Tampa, FL, yesterday, there was no shortage of damage of that nature to assess. One particularly chilling piece of part of the event involved the crowd hurling expletives at CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was there covering the event. After Eric Trump tweeted in celebration of that mob anger directed at Acosta, President Trump retweeted Eric’s tweet.

    But as the following article notes, there’s a growing phenomena as these Trump rallies that promises to take the damage done to the social fabric to a whole new level: The mainstreaming of “QAnon” – the ‘Pizzagate’ 2.0 conspiracy theory that claims Trump is getting ready to mass arrest a global cabal of child abusing Satanist (who are primarily liberals like Hillary Clinton) – which was front and center as the Tampa rally:

    Think Progress

    Unhinged conservative conspiracy theory goes mainstream at Trump’s Tampa rally
    QAnon has arrived. Welcome to the hellscape.

    Luke Barnes
    Aug 1, 2018, 10:29 am

    If there were any doubts the QAnon conspiracy has gone fully mainstream, Trump’s rally in Tampa Tuesday put at an end to them.

    Supporters of the pro-Trump, far-right theory were clearly visible both in the lines outside the rally and inside the exposition hall. They carried signs demanding answers to debunked conspiracy theories, joined regular Trump supporters in heckling the media and proudly rocked QAnon t-shirts and hats — because what’s a conspiracy theory without someone being able to profit off it?

    Crowd in Tampa ahead of the President’s rally includes one person bearing a Seth Rich conspiracy poster pic.twitter.com/Ax7cln6x8o— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) July 31, 2018

    People lining up for the Trump rally in Tampa today. A lot of the chan anons might treat Q-Anon like a LARP, but by all appearances there are plenty of people who take it seriously irl. pic.twitter.com/uys7kmnAs1— Travis View (@travis_view) July 31, 2018

    QAnon follows on in similar style from last year’s infamous Pizzagate conspiracy theory. But while Pizzagate focused its ire on one small pizzeria in Northwest Washington, the QAnon conspiracy theory is much more far-reaching, claiming that a global Deep State cabal is responsible for most of the world’s evil, and that Trump, along with Robert Mueller, are working to deliver sealed indictments and ship everyone from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to George Soros to Hillary Clinton off to Guantanamo Bay.

    The expansive nature of the QAnon theory — it involves everything from banking conspiracies to claims of Satanic Abuse and supposed child sex trafficking by Democratic lawmakers and public figures — means that smaller theories can be adopted into the fold as offshoots. For example, over the last two months in Arizona, a group called Veterans on Patrol has been “investigating” what they claim is an abandoned “child sex camp” tied to QAnon, and have been harassing public officials who say that those claims are bogus.

    It is stunning to me how many ppl in this #TRUMPTAMPA crowd have QAnon signs or t-shirts. That is not a healthy sign for GOP or for America.— Adam Smith (@adamsmithtimes) July 31, 2018

    just some extremely normal people at an extremely normal political rally for an extremely normal president https://t.co/0Gxa9sa81B pic.twitter.com/9Z2pDX9zCg— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) July 31, 2018

    The QAnon theory began on 4chan before migrating over to the even more obscure 8chan. These sites were instrumental in helping craft the so-called “alt-right” during 2015 and 2016 but, as journalist Will Sommer at the Daily Beast notes, QAnon is actually far more popular among baby boomers than their younger, more tech-savvy counterparts on the right.

    It’s easy to dismiss QAnon as a ridiculous conspiracy theory, likely propagated by a very dedicated troll, but it is starting to have some serious real-world consequences. On Sunday, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with President Trump, was targeted by QAnon followers. In June, a man with an AR-15 drove an armored vehicle onto the Hoover Dam and demanded that the government “Release the OIG report,” a key part of the QAnon theory that had, in fact, been made public earlier that week.

    All of this is made infinitely easier by the willingness of YouTube — which has long been a hub of conspiracy theories — to not only host QAnon conspiracy videos, but regularly push them via its various algorithms to the top of search results.

    This past weekend, for instance, QAnon decided that Tom Hanks was a member of the Deep State cabal and a pedophile. On Monday, the top search results for Tom Hanks on YouTube were related to QAnon accusations before the algorithm reverted it.

    According to Buzzfeed News, the accusations against Hanks stem from a single, unverified tweet by Sarah Ruth Ashcraft, claiming that she was purchased by Hanks at 13 as a “dissociated #mindcontrol doll.” Ashcraft later boasted about how QAnon had helped her increase her Twitter following by 20,000.

    Though the majority of voices promoting the conspiracy tend to be fringe or right-wing voices, conservative media figures like commentator Ben Shapiro have also retweeted official QAnon Twitter accounts in recent months. As ThinkProgress previously noted, in late July, Shapiro retweeted the Twitter account “Praying Medic,” one of the main QAnon promoters. The account had tweeted a baseless claim about former U.S. dignitaries retaining security clearances because they were members of the “Deep State.”

    ———-

    “Unhinged conservative conspiracy theory goes mainstream at Trump’s Tampa rally” by Luke Barnes; Think Progress; 08/01/2018

    “If there were any doubts the QAnon conspiracy has gone fully mainstream, Trump’s rally in Tampa Tuesday put at an end to them.”

    Yep, you can stop doubting whether or not the QAnon conspiracy would go mainstream. It happened. It’s mainstream. At least within the Republican base it’s very mainstream. Trump’s rally was filled with “Q” signs and shirts and slogans. So you should instead focus your doubts on whether or not there’s any hope for this species:


    Supporters of the pro-Trump, far-right theory were clearly visible both in the lines outside the rally and inside the exposition hall. They carried signs demanding answers to debunked conspiracy theories, joined regular Trump supporters in heckling the media and proudly rocked QAnon t-shirts and hats — because what’s a conspiracy theory without someone being able to profit off it?

    Crowd in Tampa ahead of the President’s rally includes one person bearing a Seth Rich conspiracy poster pic.twitter.com/Ax7cln6x8o— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) July 31, 2018

    People lining up for the Trump rally in Tampa today. A lot of the chan anons might treat Q-Anon like a LARP, but by all appearances there are plenty of people who take it seriously irl. pic.twitter.com/uys7kmnAs1— Travis View (@travis_view) July 31, 2018

    It is stunning to me how many ppl in this #TRUMPTAMPA crowd have QAnon signs or t-shirts. That is not a healthy sign for GOP or for America.— Adam Smith (@adamsmithtimes) July 31, 2018

    And note one of the more head-spinning features of the QAnon narrative: it asserts that Trump is work with Robert Mueller to prepare for the mass arrests:


    QAnon follows on in similar style from last year’s infamous Pizzagate conspiracy theory. But while Pizzagate focused its ire on one small pizzeria in Northwest Washington, the QAnon conspiracy theory is much more far-reaching, claiming that a global Deep State cabal is responsible for most of the world’s evil, and that Trump, along with Robert Mueller, are working to deliver sealed indictments and ship everyone from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to George Soros to Hillary Clinton off to Guantanamo Bay.

    Also note that Trump said nothing about Mueller and the Mueller probe during this rally, so you have to wonder if the abundance of “Q” fans in the crowd led to his selective silence. It also raises the question of how the QAnon fans will reactive Mueller ends up issuing some sort of negative final conclusion.

    But it’s not just the promotion and embrace of the QAnon conspiracy by Trump and the right-wing media complex that’s been fueling the mainstreaming of this hoax. Social media has also been vital, with YouTube’s algorithms apparently pushing QAnon videos to the top of search results. For example, when an individual claimed Tom Hanks is a member of the Deep State cabal of pedophiles and purchased her at age 13 as a “dissociated #mindcontrol doll,” the YouTube algorithms made a video about these charges the top search result for a search for “Tom Hanks”:


    The QAnon theory began on 4chan before migrating over to the even more obscure 8chan. These sites were instrumental in helping craft the so-called “alt-right” during 2015 and 2016 but, as journalist Will Sommer at the Daily Beast notes, QAnon is actually far more popular among baby boomers than their younger, more tech-savvy counterparts on the right.

    It’s easy to dismiss QAnon as a ridiculous conspiracy theory, likely propagated by a very dedicated troll, but it is starting to have some serious real-world consequences. On Sunday, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with President Trump, was targeted by QAnon followers. In June, a man with an AR-15 drove an armored vehicle onto the Hoover Dam and demanded that the government “Release the OIG report,” a key part of the QAnon theory that had, in fact, been made public earlier that week.

    All of this is made infinitely easier by the willingness of YouTube — which has long been a hub of conspiracy theories — to not only host QAnon conspiracy videos, but regularly push them via its various algorithms to the top of search results.

    This past weekend, for instance, QAnon decided that Tom Hanks was a member of the Deep State cabal and a pedophile. On Monday, the top search results for Tom Hanks on YouTube were related to QAnon accusations before the algorithm reverted it.

    According to Buzzfeed News, the accusations against Hanks stem from a single, unverified tweet by Sarah Ruth Ashcraft, claiming that she was purchased by Hanks at 13 as a “dissociated #mindcontrol doll.” Ashcraft later boasted about how QAnon had helped her increase her Twitter following by 20,000.

    And then there’s the mainstreaming of it with retweets from conservative pundits like Ben Shapiro


    Though the majority of voices promoting the conspiracy tend to be fringe or right-wing voices, conservative media figures like commentator Ben Shapiro have also retweeted official QAnon Twitter accounts in recent months. As ThinkProgress previously noted, in late July, Shapiro retweeted the Twitter account “Praying Medic,” one of the main QAnon promoters. The account had tweeted a baseless claim about former U.S. dignitaries retaining security clearances because they were members of the “Deep State.”

    But as the following article notes, the mainstreaming of QAnon has gone as far as people putting up billboards along highways. Yep, in Oklahoma and George there are already QAnon billboards:

    Rolling Stone

    As QAnon Goes Mainstream, Trump’s Rallies Are Turning Darker

    Under Trump, conspiracy theories and an all out assault on the truth have created a strange new reality

    By Ryan Bort
    August 1, 2018 11:22AM ET

    President Trump was in Tampa, Florida, Tuesday night to support Rep. Ron DeSantis’ campaign for governor. As is the case with all of the president’s endorsement rallies, the appearance was less about the candidate and more about Trump’s accomplishments, those crime-loving Democrats and, of course, the dishonest media. After his speech concluded, his supporters dutifully harangued CNN’s Jim Acosta, whom Trump famously rebuffed as “fake news” during a press conference in London last month.

    Just a sample of the sad scene we faced at the Trump rally in Tampa. I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy. pic.twitter.com/IhSRw5Ui3R— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 1, 2018

    Among the standard “Women For Trump,” “Blacks For Trump” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept” signs, the video shows a few others. They featured the letter “Q,” a reference to QAnon, a conspiracy theory gaining traction among some of Trump’s most ardent supporters. In a nutshell, followers of QAnon fashion themselves as detectives, or “bakers,” who try to make sense out of vague bits of information, or “bread crumbs,” left for them on the Internet by “Q,” a mysterious figure purporting to be a government official with high-level clearance. The clues left by “Q” have led his disciples to believe that Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation is a cover, and Mueller is actually working in tandem with Trump to take down a murderous cabal of liberal elites that includes everyone from Tom Hanks to Barack Obama. QAnon believes these elites have been running an elaborate child sex ring for years, and that there is a “storm” coming in which Trump will throw all of these pedophiles in jail once and for all. As NBC News reporter Ben Collins described it on Tuesday, QAnon is like “Pizzagate on bath salts.”

    It wasn’t long ago that QAnon seemed too blatantly insane to exist anywhere but on the extreme fringes of the Republican party. In the past few months, however, it has steadily been seeping into the mainstream. When Trump traveled to North Dakota in June, kids were photographed in homemade “Q” shirts.

    Must-have Trump rally accessory: QAnon shirts. pic.twitter.com/6wznKqXBzU— Will Sommer (@willsommer) June 28, 2018

    QAnon billboards have been spotted Oklahoma and Georgia.

    QAnon billboards are a thing now. This one's in Georgia. pic.twitter.com/VQ0Hn3T7h6— Will Sommer (@willsommer) June 29, 2018

    Tuesday night’s rally in Tampa seemed different. “Q” shirts and signs were prevalent in a way that was hard to dismiss. Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post described the event a the conspiracy theory’s “coming out party.” It wasn’t just a few people; practically every camera shot of the event featured a least a few “Q”s.


    ———-

    “As QAnon Goes Mainstream, Trump’s Rallies Are Turning Darker” by Ryan Bort; Rolling Stone; 08/01/2018

    “QAnon billboards have been spotted Oklahoma and Georgia.”

    So, between the YouTube promotion, the billboards, and endless nods and winks from the President and the rest of the Republican establishment, it’s not particularly surprising to see QAnon conspiracy grow in popularity. But it’s hard to thing of something that does more to mainstream this, at least mainstream it within Trump’s base, than the fact that these Trump Rallies are apparently become QAnon rallies. As the article describes, the Tampa rally “seemed different”. There were just a lot more “Q” shirts and signs than before. As Margaret Sullivan put it, the rally was a QAnon “coming out party”. In other words, within that auditorium, QAnon was fully mainstream:


    Tuesday night’s rally in Tampa seemed different. “Q” shirts and signs were prevalent in a way that was hard to dismiss. Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post described the event a the conspiracy theory’s “coming out party.” It wasn’t just a few people; practically every camera shot of the event featured a least a few “Q”s.

    As we can see, we have an extravagant, and wildly dangerous, hoax narrative that is now very much a mainstream thing within the Trump base. It may not be a mainstream narrative for the US as a whole at this point, and hopefully it never gets there, but it just had a “coming out party” for Republicans and there’s no indication the QAnon folks are going back in the closet any time soon.

    And that’s all some of the damage done to American society at the Tampa rally. There was still the attacks and the free press and creepy Brownshirts-like mob mentality we are unfortunately familiar with, but now the rallies include the mainstreaming if a hoax encouraging the mass arrests of almost everyone the Trump base hates. Which apparently includes Tom Hanks now. Interesting times.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 1, 2018, 1:52 pm
  11. When Rob Ford, the late crack-smoking former mayor of Toronto, resigned and entered rehab, it might have been tempting to assume that the political future of Rob’s brother, Doug, was going to be over. Especially given Doug’s public defense of his brother at the time. The family’s history of palling around with Klansmen. There was just a lot of political baggage for the Fords.

    Flash forward to today and Doug is now the Ontario Premier. So does this mean Doug has managed to shake off his family history of courting controversy by courting extremists? Of course not. Instead, as the following piece about Ford refusing to condemn a white nationalist candidate he was palling around with – Alt Right Youtube star Faith Goldy – it’s pretty clear that Doug is intent on making palling around with extremists part of his political brand. A political brand that appears to have a lot of appeal for Canada’s conservatives these days:

    The Huffington Post

    Doug Ford Embracing White Nationalist Faith Goldy Is A Wakeup Call
    Ford’s refusal to apologize for posing with Goldy is a sign that things have changed: white nationalism out loud is mainstream in Canada.

    Davide Mastracci
    Opinion/Blogs Associate Editor, HuffPost Canada
    09/26/2018 16:24 EDT | Updated 09/27/2018 09:29 EDT

    On Saturday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford embraced, and posed for a photo with, Toronto mayoral candidate and white nationalist Faith Goldy, at an event organized by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

    As I’ve written before, far-right Rebel Media fired Goldy for going “too far” after she appeared on a neo-Nazi podcast. Goldy has also publicly recited the most popular white supremacist slogan, demanded a modern crusade against Muslims, champions ethno-nationalism, bemoans “white genocide” and called for Canada to become “96% euro Canadian.”

    In the days after Goldy posted the photo on Twitter, several opposing Members of Provincial Parliament in Question Period called on Ford to denounce her, and apologize.

    This is a common ritual, in Question Period and elsewhere, in which a politician gives their opponent an easy chance to get off the hook, either believing their apology is genuine or just being content with the theatrical points scored by having the apology made in a public venue.

    But Ford failed to take opposing MPPs up on this offer, refusing to denounce Goldy when they asked. Days later, he put out a tepid tweet that still failed to apologize for having his photo taken with her.

    Many people are understandably outraged by Ford’s decision. I’m not. An apology would do more harm than good.

    I have been clear. I condemn hate speech, anti-Semitism and racism in all forms- be it from Faith Goldy or anyone else.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) September 26, 2018

    A significant chunk of the political and media class in Canada is obsessed with norms and decorum, at the expense of substance. A Ford apology would have satisfied these people. They’d let Ford pose with 100 white nationalists as long as he later denounced each one and apologized. They’d probably even applaud him for each shallow condemnation.

    Ford’s refusal to denounce Goldy for days, or apologize at all, should offer a clear sign to apologists in politics and media that things have changed: white nationalism out loud is mainstream in Canada.

    Goldy, who is currently polling third in the Toronto mayoral race at six per cent, doesn’t mask her abhorent views, because public opinion in Canada has shifted to a point where her ilk no longer need to hide, and the Premier feels comfortable embracing her and then not apologizing.

    Ford and Goldy aren’t identical, but if you ask her and other white nationalists, they’re on the same side in a fight for a new Ontario. In a recent robocall sent to households in Toronto, Goldy even branded herself as the “only candidate who stands with Doug Ford.”

    Proud to stand up for all Canadians alongside ya, Doug!— Faith J Goldy (@FaithGoldy) September 26, 2018

    With this in mind, demands for Ford to denounce or apologize aren’t the sign of a strong opposition, but a desperate one. These calls are effectively pleas for Ford to genuflect to past norms that no longer apply.

    I don’t mean to sound defeatist, or to discount the warranted fear and outrage people are expressing. Instead, I want to call for a change of pace going forward.

    No doubt

    Stop making excuses for Ford.

    In a recent Newstalk 1010 segment, radio host Desmond Cole chastised Ford apologists, saying, “They expect me to give Doug Ford the benefit of the doubt, even though he walks, talks and acts like a white supremacist; even when he smiles and associates with other white supremacists.”

    Cole says he refuses to do so, because he doesn’t want to live in a world “where you just keep stepping on my toes, but telling me you didn’t mean to do it. My toes are broken, whether you meant it or not. Doug Ford promotes white supremacy, whether he owns it or not.”

    No good Conservatives

    The next step applies to those who want to truly oppose Ford and what he stands for, and who he associates with, beyond just on a cheap partisan level.

    Ford is not the cause of the illness plaguing Ontario, though he’s a particularly malignant symptom. But he does not stand alone. He represents a party. He was voted in by members of that party. The representatives of that party serve him, and have stood by him.

    Party members could jump ship if they wanted to; they haven’t. In fact, even after Ford refused to condemn Goldy, they reportedly cheered, content that he had passed the low bar of saying he denounces hate speech. Since then, more Conservative MPPs have been asked to denounce Goldy. They’ve refused.

    They’re all responsible. They’re all complicit. They should all be held to account.

    We shouldn’t give Ford the benefit of the doubt any longer, and the same is true for the Conservative Party.

    ———-

    “Doug Ford Embracing White Nationalist Faith Goldy Is A Wakeup Call” by Davide Mastracci; HuffPost Canada; 09/26/2018

    “On Saturday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford embraced, and posed for a photo with, Toronto mayoral candidate and white nationalist Faith Goldy, at an event organized by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.”

    So on top of the family history of Kathy Ford dating a Klansman, and Rob Ford posing with a neo-Nazi band member, we now have Doug Ford posing for a photo with Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy. And Faith Goldy doesn’t exactly hide her neo-Nazi nature:


    As I’ve written before, far-right Rebel Media fired Goldy for going “too far” after she appeared on a neo-Nazi podcast. Goldy has also publicly recited the most popular white supremacist slogan, demanded a modern crusade against Muslims, champions ethno-nationalism, bemoans “white genocide” and called for Canada to become “96% euro Canadian.”

    And while Ford had the option of simply making a public apology and having everyone move one, he dragged his feet and only eventually gave a tepid denunciation of Goldy:


    In the days after Goldy posted the photo on Twitter, several opposing Members of Provincial Parliament in Question Period called on Ford to denounce her, and apologize.

    This is a common ritual, in Question Period and elsewhere, in which a politician gives their opponent an easy chance to get off the hook, either believing their apology is genuine or just being content with the theatrical points scored by having the apology made in a public venue.

    But Ford failed to take opposing MPPs up on this offer, refusing to denounce Goldy when they asked. Days later, he put out a tepid tweet that still failed to apologize for having his photo taken with her.

    Many people are understandably outraged by Ford’s decision. I’m not. An apology would do more harm than good.

    I have been clear. I condemn hate speech, anti-Semitism and racism in all forms- be it from Faith Goldy or anyone else.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) September 26, 2018

    A significant chunk of the political and media class in Canada is obsessed with norms and decorum, at the expense of substance. A Ford apology would have satisfied these people. They’d let Ford pose with 100 white nationalists as long as he later denounced each one and apologized. They’d probably even applaud him for each shallow condemnation.

    Ford’s refusal to denounce Goldy for days, or apologize at all, should offer a clear sign to apologists in politics and media that things have changed: white nationalism out loud is mainstream in Canada.

    Goldy, who is currently polling third in the Toronto mayoral race at six per cent, doesn’t mask her abhorent views, because public opinion in Canada has shifted to a point where her ilk no longer need to hide, and the Premier feels comfortable embracing her and then not apologizing.

    And this unabashed chumminess with Goldy isn’t lost on Goldy. She’s actually branding herself as the “only candidate who stands with Doug Ford”:


    Ford and Goldy aren’t identical, but if you ask her and other white nationalists, they’re on the same side in a fight for a new Ontario. In a recent robocall sent to households in Toronto, Goldy even branded herself as the “only candidate who stands with Doug Ford.”

    Proud to stand up for all Canadians alongside ya, Doug!— Faith J Goldy (@FaithGoldy) September 26, 2018

    With this in mind, demands for Ford to denounce or apologize aren’t the sign of a strong opposition, but a desperate one. These calls are effectively pleas for Ford to genuflect to past norms that no longer apply.

    I don’t mean to sound defeatist, or to discount the warranted fear and outrage people are expressing. Instead, I want to call for a change of pace going forward.

    Note that the tweet Goldy sent out where she proclaims that she is “Proud to stand up for all Canadians alongside ya, Doug!” was a direct reply to the tweet Ford sent where he said, “I have been clear. I condemn hate speech, anti-Semitism and racism in all forms- be it from Faith Goldy or anyone else.” It’s all quite reminiscent of when then-candidate Donald Trump took days to repudiate David Duke and only after days of refusing to do so.

    But the parallels aren’t limited to Ford and Trump. There’s also the parallels between Ford’s Conservatives and the GOP. Just as the GOP has shown almost no appetite for criticizing Trump no matter what he does, Ford’s fellow party members cheered his tepid belated denunciation of hate speech and, themselves, refuse to denounce Goldy when asked:


    No good Conservatives

    The next step applies to those who want to truly oppose Ford and what he stands for, and who he associates with, beyond just on a cheap partisan level.

    Ford is not the cause of the illness plaguing Ontario, though he’s a particularly malignant symptom. But he does not stand alone. He represents a party. He was voted in by members of that party. The representatives of that party serve him, and have stood by him.

    Party members could jump ship if they wanted to; they haven’t. In fact, even after Ford refused to condemn Goldy, they reportedly cheered, content that he had passed the low bar of saying he denounces hate speech. Since then, more Conservative MPPs have been asked to denounce Goldy. They’ve refused.

    They’re all responsible. They’re all complicit. They should all be held to account.

    We shouldn’t give Ford the benefit of the doubt any longer, and the same is true for the Conservative Party.

    And that’s what so chilling about this latest episode of the Ford family cuddling up to white supremacists: it’s not just about the Ford family. It’s about Canada’s conservatives quietly welcoming white supremacy into the mainstream, one tepid belated denunciation at a time.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 3, 2018, 3:29 pm
  12. Here’s a sign of how utterly screwed Brazil is going to be for the foreseeable future. It’s also the latest story, one of many, about how WhatsApp is wreaking havoc on Brazilian society: The largest female-organized march in Brazilian history just took place in opposition to the openly misogynistic far right candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, who happens to be the leading candidate in the run-off. He also happens to have openly said recently that he wouldn’t pay women the same salary as men. Half of female voters have already declared they would never back him. So did the march do anything to damage Bolsonaro’s support among women? Nope, the opposite happened and his support among women went up:

    The Guardian

    ‘I don’t see any reason for feminism’: the women backing Brazil’s Bolsonaro
    The openly sexist presidential candidate has faced an extraordinary backlash. So why do many women support him?

    Anna Jean Kaiser in São Paulo

    Sun 14 Oct 2018 03.01 EDT
    Last modified on Mon 15 Oct 2018 12.10 EDT

    They are not victims, and they don’t need anyone’s sympathy. They have no time for “whiny feminists” – and no need for the government to guarantee equal pay.

    They earned what they’ve achieved, often juggling a professional life with running a home and raising a family. And they want the right to bear arms to protect themselves and their loved ones.

    They are the anti-feminist women backing the far-right, former paratrooper Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s upcoming presidential runoff election – a man who has been repeatedly accused of misogyny and racism.

    “I really don’t see any reason for feminism today — men and women are equal in Brazil,” said Ana de Moraes, 56, a retired lawyer who intends to vote for Bolsonaro on 28 October. “These feminist women screaming and taking off their clothes – it’s very backwards. Bolsonaro isn’t taking any rights away from women.”

    Over the course of a 30-year political career, Bolsonaro has earned notoriety from his sexist remarks, once telling a fellow lawmaker she didn’t even “deserve” being raped and more recently saying he wouldn’t pay women the same salary as men.

    In 2013, he called the secretary of women’s policy a “big dyke”. During the impeachment of the country’s first female president, he dedicated his vote to the dictatorship colonel who had overseen her torture.

    Such language made him a hate figure for many, and fuelled a high rejection rate among women: even as Bolsonaro pulled ahead in the polls, 50% of female voters said they would never back him.

    Many pollsters had presumed that Bolsonaro’s misogyny had created a natural limit to his share of the women’s vote, but in the final stages of the campaign, that expectation has shattered.

    The weekend before the first round on 7 October, tens of thousands of people joined marches across the country under the slogan #EleNão (“not him”) in the biggest female-organized street demonstration in Brazilian history.

    But polling showed that after the #EleNão protests, Bolsonaro’s support among women actually rose.

    And far from warming up to feminism, Bolsonaro and his supporters doubled down with their attacks.

    When Bolsonaro supporters held their own demonstrations, his son, Eduardo, pronounced: “Rightwing women are prettier than leftwing women. They don’t show the breasts in the streets, nor do they defecate in the streets. Rightwing women are more hygienic.”

    Memes circulate on WhatsApp and Facebook – where the majority of Bolsonaro’s campaign has played out – juxtaposing images of pro- and anti-Bolsonaro women..

    In one, a female Bolsonaro supporter stands surrounded by Brazilian flags, eyes closed and fist in the air, with a sleeping child over her shoulder; the woman from the #EleNão protest is yelling, topless and daubed with body paint. (The vast majority of protest participants were fully clothed.)

    Another widely shared image showed a little boy wearing a shirt that said, “Mum’s a feminista; I don’t grow up to be machista”, with text written over it, “Sweetie, if your mum’s a feminist, you wouldn’t even be born, you’d have been aborted!”

    And such messages are resonating. According to polls before the fragmented first round of 13 candidates, Bolsonaro was the most popular candidate among women, with 27% of the vote. The latest poll for the runoff election says he has roughly 42% of the female electorate.

    “These women who are naked in the streets screaming – they don’t represent me,” said De Moraes, the retired lawyer.

    “A real feminist is a woman who gets up early, works hard and fights for her independence, not these women who whine and have barely worked a day in their lives,” said Linda Fontes, 23, a real estate administrator from Rio’s poor periphery who describes herself as a Bolsonaro “fanatic”.

    Fontes has been mugged twice, and supports Bolsonaro’s proposal to loosen gun ownership laws so that “upstanding citizens” can protect themselves from Brazil’s soaring violent crime.

    “I need to be able to protect myself in the chaos that is Rio de Janeiro today,” she said.

    Female Bolsonaro voters shrug off his refusal to support legislation to ensure equal pay, despite studies showing that women in Brazil earn 22.5% less than men.

    “Salaries for both men and women should be based on merit and responsibilities. Women today are well aware of their rights, obligations and duties. We don’t need the government for that,” said Maria Alice do Lago, a seamstress from rural São Paulo state.

    Like some voters for the US president Donald Trump, many female Bolsonaro voters say they don’t agree with everything he says – or like the way he says it – but they still intend to vote for him.

    Bolsonaro has no major party behind him, and has had very little advertising time on television and radio, but his supporters have dominated the fight online, flooding social networks with pro-Bolsonaro memes and testimonies rejecting the “feminist agenda”.

    “I’ve never played the victim card,” says an unnamed black woman supporter in one such clip. “I support the right. I’m feminine and I love it. I shave my armpits. Yes, I cook for my husband, yes, I wash my husband’s clothes – there’s no problem with that.”

    Márcio Moretto Ribeiro, a University of São Paulo professor who tracked pro-Bolsonaro content on Facebook, found that that posts criticizing feminism were among the top three most-shared topics.

    “It was evident that Bolsonaro would have a problem with women,” he said. “[But] Bolsonaro and his internet base reacted – they adjusted the discourse to position him on the side of women but against feminists.

    “It’s a risky strategy, but it worked.”.

    ———-

    “‘I don’t see any reason for feminism’: the women backing Brazil’s Bolsonaro” by Anna Jean Kaiser in São Paulo; The Guardian; 10/14/2018

    “Many pollsters had presumed that Bolsonaro’s misogyny had created a natural limit to his share of the women’s vote, but in the final stages of the campaign, that expectation has shattered.”

    Yep, Bolsonaro has somehow managed to make ground with the female vote. This is a guy who once told a female lawmaker that she didn’t ever “deserve” to be raped and recently said he wouldn’t pay women the same salary as men. And sure, 50 percent of female voters said they would never back him, but that still implies 50 percent are open to the idea. And he appears to have made inroad with that latter group:


    Over the course of a 30-year political career, Bolsonaro has earned notoriety from his sexist remarks, once telling a fellow lawmaker she didn’t even “deserve” being raped and more recently saying he wouldn’t pay women the same salary as men.

    In 2013, he called the secretary of women’s policy a “big dyke”. During the impeachment of the country’s first female president, he dedicated his vote to the dictatorship colonel who had overseen her torture.

    Such language made him a hate figure for many, and fuelled a high rejection rate among women: even as Bolsonaro pulled ahead in the polls, 50% of female voters said they would never back him.

    And yet, following the largest female-organized street protest in Brazilian history, Bolsonaro’s support for women went up:


    The weekend before the first round on 7 October, tens of thousands of people joined marches across the country under the slogan #EleNão (“not him”) in the biggest female-organized street demonstration in Brazilian history.

    But polling showed that after the #EleNão protests, Bolsonaro’s support among women actually rose.

    And that rise in female support wasn’t due to Bolsonaro effectively playing down his misogyny. Nope, they doubled down and framed the protesters as people who publicly show their breasts and defecate in the streets:


    And far from warming up to feminism, Bolsonaro and his supporters doubled down with their attacks.

    When Bolsonaro supporters held their own demonstrations, his son, Eduardo, pronounced: “Rightwing women are prettier than leftwing women. They don’t show the breasts in the streets, nor do they defecate in the streets. Rightwing women are more hygienic.”

    And, of course, WhatsApp and Facebook proved crucial to the successful propagation of these memes. Thanks to these tactics, Bolsonaro managed to get the support of over 40 percent of the female electorate:


    Memes circulate on WhatsApp and Facebook – where the majority of Bolsonaro’s campaign has played out – juxtaposing images of pro- and anti-Bolsonaro women..

    In one, a female Bolsonaro supporter stands surrounded by Brazilian flags, eyes closed and fist in the air, with a sleeping child over her shoulder; the woman from the #EleNão protest is yelling, topless and daubed with body paint. (The vast majority of protest participants were fully clothed.)

    Another widely shared image showed a little boy wearing a shirt that said, “Mum’s a feminista; I don’t grow up to be machista”, with text written over it, “Sweetie, if your mum’s a feminist, you wouldn’t even be born, you’d have been aborted!”

    And such messages are resonating. According to polls before the fragmented first round of 13 candidates, Bolsonaro was the most popular candidate among women, with 27% of the vote. The latest poll for the runoff election says he has roughly 42% of the female electorate.

    “These women who are naked in the streets screaming – they don’t represent me,” said De Moraes, the retired lawyer.

    “A real feminist is a woman who gets up early, works hard and fights for her independence, not these women who whine and have barely worked a day in their lives,” said Linda Fontes, 23, a real estate administrator from Rio’s poor periphery who describes herself as a Bolsonaro “fanatic”.

    The Bolsonaro campaign memes attacking feminism – which implicitly and perversely frames Bolsonaro as a defender of women – managed to become among the top three most shared topics on Facebook in Brazil. That’s how effectively the Bolsonaro campaign has harnessed social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp:

    Bolsonaro has no major party behind him, and has had very little advertising time on television and radio, but his supporters have dominated the fight online, flooding social networks with pro-Bolsonaro memes and testimonies rejecting the “feminist agenda”.

    “I’ve never played the victim card,” says an unnamed black woman supporter in one such clip. “I support the right. I’m feminine and I love it. I shave my armpits. Yes, I cook for my husband, yes, I wash my husband’s clothes – there’s no problem with that.”

    Márcio Moretto Ribeiro, a University of São Paulo professor who tracked pro-Bolsonaro content on Facebook, found that that posts criticizing feminism were among the top three most-shared topics.

    “It was evident that Bolsonaro would have a problem with women,” he said. “[But] Bolsonaro and his internet base reacted – they adjusted the discourse to position him on the side of women but against feminists.

    “It’s a risky strategy, but it worked.”.

    So did a handful of female protestors actually manage to deliver the Bolsonaro campaign a political gift by going topless and defecating in the streets during the big anti-Bolsonaro protest march? Nope. Instead, as the following article makes clear, it’s exactly what we should expected: The Bolsonaro forces are simply spreading disinformation. Specifically, they’re spreading it over Facebook and especially WhatsApp. And since Bolsonaro is the leading candidate and has more or less exclusively campaigned over Facebook and WhatsApp – ignoring television and radio – it’s pretty clear that Facebook and WhatsApp are crucial political platforms for Brazil these days. Don’t forget that one of the key sales pitches of WhatsApp is that no third parties can see what’s sent on it. Not governments and not even WhatsApp itself or its parent company Facebook. In other words, WhatsApp is the perfect platform for the dissemination of far right disinformation and that’s exactly what it’s being used for by the Bolsonaro campaign. Very effectively:

    BrasilWire

    WhatsApp: Bolsonaro’s hate machine

    As Mark Zuckerberg jumps through hoops to show he can limit the damage to democracy caused by fake news on Facebook, his WhatsApp platform has been used to convince a large segment of the Brazilian electorate that out of control gays are about to force homosexuality on their children unless they elect an actual fascist. Will Sunday’s first-round presidential elections be the first ever to be won over WhatsApp?

    by Brian Mier
    October 5, 2018

    Brazil has some of the world’s most expensive cellular phone airtime. Therefore when Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging app came along, which allows users to make free calls over the internet, it caught on fast. Today, over 100 million Brazilians – half the population – use it every day. Brazilians are the largest consumers of WhatsApp in the world.

    Twitter was influential in Middle East regime changes in the so-called Arab spring. Facebook helped propel Obama to power in 2008 and 4Chan helped Trump win the US presidency in 2016. The 2018 Brazilian presidential elections appear to be the first anywhere in which WhatsApp will prove to be a deciding factor. Leading candidate Jair Bolsonaro has avoided television appearances in favor of the social media platform, which allows him and his followers to quickly reach millions of people with slanderous misinformation that is not challenged or regulated in any way, and is believed to be factual by a large segment of the population.

    Brazil’s campaign laws dictate that candidates’ television commercials are limited to a certain amount of free airtime which is allocated by the government according to how many congressmen belong to his and his coalition’s political parties. This ensures that, whereas all candidates are guaranteed a minimum amount of free air time, the larger parties and coalitions get more. In the 2018 election season PSDB candidate Geraldo Alckmin, who was initially Wall Street’s favorite due to his support of the Temer government’s deep austerity cuts and petroleum privatizations, was allocated 5:30 of commercial airtime in each of the two daily 25 minute political commercial blocs. PT candidate Fernando Haddad got 2:22. Fernando Meireles from PMDB got 1:50. For the first time since the end of the dictatorship, however, the leading candidate in a Brazilian Presidential election has been almost invisible on TV. Jair Bolsonaro, from the tiny, neofascist PSL party, has only had 8 seconds of airtime per commercial bloc. Furthermore, he has repeatedly refused to participate in television debates. How has he emerged as electoral front-runner? The first factor was the arrest, with no material evidence, of leading candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Unlike 1400 other current candidates in the Brazilian elections who have similar appeals processes underway and were allowed to run for office by the electoral courts, Lula was removed from the election in direct defiance of Brazilian electoral law and a legally binding order from the UN Human Rights Committee. His arrest has clearly led to a rise of fascism in Brazil. The second key factor is Bolsonaro’s campaign and supporters use of the WhatsApp messenger platform which is impossible to police for Brazilian crimes such as hate speech, conspiracy to incite violence and slander, making it a perfect platform for committing character assassination against anyone from ex-lovers to professional and political rivals.

    When 4 million women joined the #elenao (#nothim) Facebook group in protest against Bolsonaro and planned one of the largest anti-fascist protests in history, his campaign and his followers (it is nearly impossible to ascertain the difference through WhatsApp) immediately swung into action to discredit the protest. Working through thousands of chat groups of 256 members each, they circulated photos from a recent gay pride parade of topless lesbian activists and said that they were taken at the #elenao protests. They worked to specifically target evangelical Christian women, coupling the photos with messages like, “This is what [PT candidate] Haddad thinks about family values”. Around one million people took to the streets on September 30 against Bolsonaro in 300 cities and 21 countries around the world and celebrities like Madonna publicly expressed support for the campaign, but when the poll results started coming in a few days later, woman’s support for Bolsonaro had increased, giving him a 5% jump and propelling him into a projected tie with Fernando Haddad in the run off.

    TV Producer Janaina Avila recently published a list of 15 lies that the Bolsonaro campaign has specifically targeted evangelical Christians with on WhatsApp. These include the following: 1) If PT candidate Fernando Haddad is elected, children will become property of the state and have their gender declared by government bureaucrats at age 5; 2) While mayor of São Paulo, Haddad distributed penis shaped baby bottles at public preschools; 3) Vice Presidential candidate Manuela D’Ávila according to a photo-shopped picture wore a T-shirt that said, “ Jesus is a Transvestite”; and 4) One million Bolsonaro supporters took part in a protest on Paulista avenue in São Paulo last week.

    ———-

    “WhatsApp: Bolsonaro’s hate machine” by Brian Mier; BrasilWire; 10/05/2018

    “Twitter was influential in Middle East regime changes in the so-called Arab spring. Facebook helped propel Obama to power in 2008 and 4Chan helped Trump win the US presidency in 2016. The 2018 Brazilian presidential elections appear to be the first anywhere in which WhatsApp will prove to be a deciding factor. Leading candidate Jair Bolsonaro has avoided television appearances in favor of the social media platform, which allows him and his followers to quickly reach millions of people with slanderous misinformation that is not challenged or regulated in any way, and is believed to be factual by a large segment of the population.

    That’s right, WhatsApp is turning out to the ‘killer app’ of Brazilian politics. And it just might kill Brazil’s democracy in the process. And Bolsonaro and the far right aren’t simply using WhatsApp to spread disinformation. They’re almost exclusively using WhatsApp, thus pushing Brazil’s political discourse onto a platform where Bolsonaro’s team can secretly pump outright lies directly to target audiences:


    Brazil’s campaign laws dictate that candidates’ television commercials are limited to a certain amount of free airtime which is allocated by the government according to how many congressmen belong to his and his coalition’s political parties. This ensures that, whereas all candidates are guaranteed a minimum amount of free air time, the larger parties and coalitions get more. In the 2018 election season PSDB candidate Geraldo Alckmin, who was initially Wall Street’s favorite due to his support of the Temer government’s deep austerity cuts and petroleum privatizations, was allocated 5:30 of commercial airtime in each of the two daily 25 minute political commercial blocs. PT candidate Fernando Haddad got 2:22. Fernando Meireles from PMDB got 1:50. For the first time since the end of the dictatorship, however, the leading candidate in a Brazilian Presidential election has been almost invisible on TV. Jair Bolsonaro, from the tiny, neofascist PSL party, has only had 8 seconds of airtime per commercial bloc. Furthermore, he has repeatedly refused to participate in television debates. How has he emerged as electoral front-runner? The first factor was the arrest, with no material evidence, of leading candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Unlike 1400 other current candidates in the Brazilian elections who have similar appeals processes underway and were allowed to run for office by the electoral courts, Lula was removed from the election in direct defiance of Brazilian electoral law and a legally binding order from the UN Human Rights Committee. His arrest has clearly led to a rise of fascism in Brazil. The second key factor is Bolsonaro’s campaign and supporters use of the WhatsApp messenger platform which is impossible to police for Brazilian crimes such as hate speech, conspiracy to incite violence and slander, making it a perfect platform for committing character assassination against anyone from ex-lovers to professional and political rivals.

    And the effectiveness of that disinformation tactic was on full display with the anti-feminist memes getting pushed following the big anti-Bolsonaro protests: thousands of Bolsonaro chat groups start circulated photos from a recent gay pride parade of topless lesbian activists and said they were photos from the Bolsonaro protests. Evangelical Christian women were the key target of this disinformation, and based on Bolsonaro’s uptick in female support it appears to have worked:


    When 4 million women joined the #elenao (#nothim) Facebook group in protest against Bolsonaro and planned one of the largest anti-fascist protests in history, his campaign and his followers (it is nearly impossible to ascertain the difference through WhatsApp) immediately swung into action to discredit the protest. Working through thousands of chat groups of 256 members each, they circulated photos from a recent gay pride parade of topless lesbian activists and said that they were taken at the #elenao protests. They worked to specifically target evangelical Christian women, coupling the photos with messages like, “This is what [PT candidate] Haddad thinks about family values”. Around one million people took to the streets on September 30 against Bolsonaro in 300 cities and 21 countries around the world and celebrities like Madonna publicly expressed support for the campaign, but when the poll results started coming in a few days later, woman’s support for Bolsonaro had increased, giving him a 5% jump and propelling him into a projected tie with Fernando Haddad in the run off.

    TV Producer Janaina Avila recently published a list of 15 lies that the Bolsonaro campaign has specifically targeted evangelical Christians with on WhatsApp. These include the following: 1) If PT candidate Fernando Haddad is elected, children will become property of the state and have their gender declared by government bureaucrats at age 5; 2) While mayor of São Paulo, Haddad distributed penis shaped baby bottles at public preschools; 3) Vice Presidential candidate Manuela D’Ávila according to a photo-shopped picture wore a T-shirt that said, “ Jesus is a Transvestite”; and 4) One million Bolsonaro supporters took part in a protest on Paulista avenue in São Paulo last week.

    Also note that the above Guardian article portrayed those photos as actually being from the #elenao protests, so this Bolsonaro campaign appears to have fooled some reporters too.

    And that’s all contributing to a situation where it’s looking increasingly like Brazil is about to enter into a new dark chapter by electing a pro-dictatorship, pro-torture, and pro-rape far right lunatic to lead the country. So if it seems like Brazil has gone mad, don’t forget that WhatsApp appears to be playing a significant role in spreading that madness. And no one at WhatsApp or Facebook appears to have any meaningful ability or intention of doing anything about it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 16, 2018, 2:24 pm
  13. So remember how the far right was claiming that secret videos exist of Hillary Clinton eating the face of a child as part of Satanic ritual and the risk of ‘deep fake’ AI technology will eventually allow for the creation of convincing fake videos of this nature? Well, that particular conspiracy theory has a name now: Frazzledrip. And as the following Vox article about YouTube’s problems with systematically promoting extremist videos and disinformation points out, it turns out YouTube’s algorithms have been systematically promoting the hell out of Frazzledrip. Surprise!:

    Vox.com

    YouTube’s conspiracy theory crisis, explained
    Why a Democratic representative asked Google’s CEO about the most bizarre conspiracy theory you’ve never heard of.

    By Jane Coaston
    Dec 12, 2018, 4:15pm EST

    The three-and-a-half-hour hearing with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and the House Judiciary Committee wasn’t exactly a showcase of deep knowledge of technology. One Republican representative complained that all of the Google results for the Obamacare repeal act and the Republican tax bill were negative. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) had to be told that Google does not make the iPhone. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) demanded that Google be held liable for Wikipedia’s “political bias.”

    But one lawmaker, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), raised an actually important and pressing issue: the way YouTube’s algorithms can be used to push conspiracy theories.

    “The point at which it becomes a matter of serious public interest is when your communication vehicle is being used to promote propaganda that leads to violent events.” He was alluding to the Pizzagate conspiracy theory which led to an armed gunman showing up at a DC-area pizzeria in 2016 — a conspiracy theory spread, in part, on YouTube.

    Raskin asked about another especially strange conspiracy theory that emerged on YouTube — “Frazzledrip,” which has deep ties to the QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories. He asked Pichai, “Is your basic position that [Frazzledrip] is something you want to try to do something about, but basically there is just an avalanche of such material and there’s really nothing that can be done, and it should be buyer beware or consumer beware when you go on YouTube?” adding, “Are you taking the threats seriously?

    Raskin’s questions were getting at an important issue: YouTube, which Google purchased for $1.65 billion 12 years ago, has a conspiracy theory problem. It’s baked into the way the service works. And it appears that neither Congress nor YouTube itself is anywhere near solving it.

    YouTube and conspiracy theories, explained

    One billion hours’ worth of content is viewed on YouTube every single day. About 70 percent of those views come from YouTube’s recommendations, according to Algotransparency, a website that attempts to track “what videos YouTube’s recommendation algorithm most often recommends.”

    YouTube’s content algorithms are incredibly powerful — they determine what videos show up in your search results, the suggested videos stream, on the home page, the trending stream, and under your subscriptions. If you go to the YouTube homepage, algorithms dictate which videos you see, and which ones you don’t. And if you search for something, it’s an algorithm that decides which videos you get first.

    As Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, wrote in the New York Times in March, the YouTube advertising model is based on you watching as many videos as they can show you (and the ads that appear before and during those videos).

    Whether the subject of the original video selected was right-leaning or left-leaning, or even nonpolitical, the algorithm tends to recommend increasingly more extreme videos — escalating the viewer, Tufekci wrote, from videos of Trump rallies to videos featuring “white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials, and other disturbing content.”

    Watching videos of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, led to videos featuring “arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11,” Tufekci wrote.

    On Algotransparency’s website, which tries to reverse-engineer YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, I entered two terms to find out what the algorithm would recommend for a user with no search history based on those terms. First up was “Trump.” (You can try this yourself.)

    The first recommended video was from MSNBC, detailing James Comey’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. The second recommended video was a QAnon-themed video — relating to the conspiracy theory alleging President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller are working together to uncover a vast pedophile network including many prominent Democrats (and actor Tom Hanks). (“D5” refers to December 5, which QAnon believers argued would be the day when thousands of their political enemies would be arrested.)

    Next, I tried “Hillary Clinton.” The top three recommended videos based on YouTube’s algorithm are all conspiracy-theory driven, from a video from an anti-Semitic YouTube channel that argues Freemasons will escape from the United States on private yachts after America’s eventual collapse to a user alleging that Hillary Clinton has a seizure disorder (she does not) to one alleging that Hillary Clinton has had a number of people murdered (also untrue.)

    I spend a lot of time consuming content about conspiracy theories — but these results weren’t tailored to me. These results were based on a user who had never watched any YouTube videos before.

    This isn’t a flaw in YouTube’s system — this is how YouTube works. Which brings us to Frazzledrip.

    How YouTube helped spread the weirdest conspiracy theory of them all

    The conspiracy theory behind Frazzledrip is this, as “explained” on the fake news website, YourNewsWire.com in April: Hillary Clinton and former Clinton aide Huma Abedin were filmed ripping a child’s face off and wearing it as a mask before drinking the child’s blood in a Satanic ritual sacrifice, and that video was then found on the hard drive of Abedin’s former husband, Anthony Weiner, under the code name: “Frazzledrip.”

    “The #Hillgramage 2018”. I’m shaking tonight with this drop. This would be an appropriate outcome. From #Epstein to #CometPingPong and everything in between, We’ve been waiting for this. We’re coming @HillaryClinton, I’m sharpening my pitchfork right now. #FRAZZLEDRIP #Pizzagate https://t.co/NFbCc4AZTt— ImMikeRobertson ???? (@ImMikeRobertson) April 15, 2018

    For the record: This is not true. There is no such video, and no such thing ever happened. But as Snopes has detailed, multiple conspiracy theories of the Trump era, including QAnon and Pizzagate, overlap, and all of them hold that Hillary Clinton is a secret child pedophile and murderer.

    You have probably never heard of Frazzledrip. Most people haven’t heard of Frazzledrip, or QAnon, or perhaps even Pizzagate. But on YouTube, there are hundreds of videos, each with thousands of views, dedicated to a conspiracy theory alleging that a former presidential candidate ripped a child’s face off and wore it as a mask. And there’s markedly little YouTube, or Google, or even Congress, seem able to do about it.

    “It’s an area we acknowledge there is more work to be done”

    Here’s how Pichai answered Raskin’s question: “We are constantly undertaking efforts to deal with misinformation, but we have clearly stated policies, and we have made lots of progress in many of the areas over the past year. … This is a recent thing but I’m following up on it and making sure we are evaluating these against our policies. It’s an area we acknowledge there is more work to be done.”

    While explaining that YouTube takes problematic videos on a case by case basis, he added, “It’s our responsibility, I think, to make sure YouTube is a platform for freedom of expression, but it needs to be responsible in our society.”

    But it isn’t easy to balance a platform that claims to be for freedom of expression with societal responsibility. It’s not illegal to believe in conspiracy theories, or to think that the September 11th attacks were an inside job (they weren’t) or that the Sandy Hook shootings never happened (they did) or that Hillary Clinton is a child-eating pedophilic cannibal (this, it must be said, I suppose, is untrue).

    YouTube could radically change its terms of service — in a way that would dramatically limit the freedom of expression Pichai and his colleagues are attempting to provide. Or it could invest much more heavily in moderation, or change its algorithm.

    But all of that would be bad for business. As long as YouTube is so heavily reliant on algorithms to keep viewers watching, on a platform where hundreds of hours of video are uploaded every minute of every day, the conspiracy theories will remain. Even if YouTube occasionally bans conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, users will continue to upload videos about Frazzledrip, or QAnon, or videos arguing that the earth is flat — and YouTube’s algorithms, without any change, will keep recommending them, and other users will watch them.

    ———-

    “YouTube’s conspiracy theory crisis, explained” by Jane Coaston; Vox.com; 12/12/2018

    “You have probably never heard of Frazzledrip. Most people haven’t heard of Frazzledrip, or QAnon, or perhaps even Pizzagate. But on YouTube, there are hundreds of videos, each with thousands of views, dedicated to a conspiracy theory alleging that a former presidential candidate ripped a child’s face off and wore it as a mask. And there’s markedly little YouTube, or Google, or even Congress, seem able to do about it.”

    Hundreds of videos dedicated to pushing the idea that Hillary Clinton ripped a child’s face off and wore it as a mask. That’s a thing on YouTube. And YouTube’s algorithms appear to love it:


    How YouTube helped spread the weirdest conspiracy theory of them all

    The conspiracy theory behind Frazzledrip is this, as “explained” on the fake news website, YourNewsWire.com in April: Hillary Clinton and former Clinton aide Huma Abedin were filmed ripping a child’s face off and wearing it as a mask before drinking the child’s blood in a Satanic ritual sacrifice, and that video was then found on the hard drive of Abedin’s former husband, Anthony Weiner, under the code name: “Frazzledrip.”

    So it should be no surprise that when people with no YouTube search history do a search for “Hillary Clinton”, the top three results are all anti-Hillary conspiracy theories:


    On Algotransparency’s website, which tries to reverse-engineer YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, I entered two terms to find out what the algorithm would recommend for a user with no search history based on those terms. First up was “Trump.” (You can try this yourself.)

    The first recommended video was from MSNBC, detailing James Comey’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. The second recommended video was a QAnon-themed video — relating to the conspiracy theory alleging President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller are working together to uncover a vast pedophile network including many prominent Democrats (and actor Tom Hanks). (“D5” refers to December 5, which QAnon believers argued would be the day when thousands of their political enemies would be arrested.)

    Next, I tried “Hillary Clinton.” The top three recommended videos based on YouTube’s algorithm are all conspiracy-theory driven, from a video from an anti-Semitic YouTube channel that argues Freemasons will escape from the United States on private yachts after America’s eventual collapse to a user alleging that Hillary Clinton has a seizure disorder (she does not) to one alleging that Hillary Clinton has had a number of people murdered (also untrue.)

    I spend a lot of time consuming content about conspiracy theories — but these results weren’t tailored to me. These results were based on a user who had never watched any YouTube videos before.

    And that’s why Democratic lawmakers were asking Google’s CEO Sundary Pichai about what, if anything, YouTube was planning on doing about the fact that its platform is aggressively pushing things like Frazzledrip. But it doesn’t sound like YouTube has any plans at all other than to explain that “there is more work to be done”:


    But one lawmaker, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), raised an actually important and pressing issue: the way YouTube’s algorithms can be used to push conspiracy theories.

    “The point at which it becomes a matter of serious public interest is when your communication vehicle is being used to promote propaganda that leads to violent events.” He was alluding to the Pizzagate conspiracy theory which led to an armed gunman showing up at a DC-area pizzeria in 2016 — a conspiracy theory spread, in part, on YouTube.

    Raskin asked about another especially strange conspiracy theory that emerged on YouTube — “Frazzledrip,” which has deep ties to the QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories. He asked Pichai, “Is your basic position that [Frazzledrip] is something you want to try to do something about, but basically there is just an avalanche of such material and there’s really nothing that can be done, and it should be buyer beware or consumer beware when you go on YouTube?” adding, “Are you taking the threats seriously?

    Raskin’s questions were getting at an important issue: YouTube, which Google purchased for $1.65 billion 12 years ago, has a conspiracy theory problem. It’s baked into the way the service works. And it appears that neither Congress nor YouTube itself is anywhere near solving it.

    Here’s how Pichai answered Raskin’s question: “We are constantly undertaking efforts to deal with misinformation, but we have clearly stated policies, and we have made lots of progress in many of the areas over the past year. … This is a recent thing but I’m following up on it and making sure we are evaluating these against our policies. It’s an area we acknowledge there is more work to be done.”

    While explaining that YouTube takes problematic videos on a case by case basis, he added, “It’s our responsibility, I think, to make sure YouTube is a platform for freedom of expression, but it needs to be responsible in our society.”

    But it isn’t easy to balance a platform that claims to be for freedom of expression with societal responsibility. It’s not illegal to believe in conspiracy theories, or to think that the September 11th attacks were an inside job (they weren’t) or that the Sandy Hook shootings never happened (they did) or that Hillary Clinton is a child-eating pedophilic cannibal (this, it must be said, I suppose, is untrue).

    YouTube could radically change its terms of service — in a way that would dramatically limit the freedom of expression Pichai and his colleagues are attempting to provide. Or it could invest much more heavily in moderation, or change its algorithm.

    But as the following article notes, the idea that YouTube simply can’t realistically address the flood of far right conspiracy theory videos getting systematically pushed on users is simply bogus. How so? Because when you put in terms like “Hillary Clinton” into Google’s video searches you don’t end up with a flood of far right conspiracy theory videos. And YouTube is owned by Google. In other words, this algorithmic performance is clearly a choice by YouTube. A choice rooted in a business model of feeding users more and more extreme content to keep them watching:

    HmmDaily

    YouTube Already Knows How to Stop Serving Toxic Videos

    Tom Scocca
    Published on Dec 12, 2018 11:49PM EST

    Vox has an explainer today about how YouTube automatically steers users toward deranged and conspiratorial videos, even if the users have started out with perfectly ordinary interests. This has been explained before, but it keeps needing to be explained because it’s so incomprehensible in normal human terms: YouTube’s algorithms, which are built to keep people watching as many videos and video ads as possible, have apparently followed that instruction to the conclusion, as Zeynep Tufekci wrote in the New York Times, “that people are drawn to content that is more extreme than what they started with—or to incendiary content in general.

    The humans who run YouTube (and run its algorithms) aren’t exactly proud of the fact that their product showcases misogynist rants or pseudoscientific nonsense or apocalyptic conspiracy theories. But their position is that what happens inside their black box is extremely hard to correct or regulate, and on the scale at which YouTube operates, it’s impossible to apply human judgment to every case. They wish there was a way to serve up video recommendations without poisoning people’s minds till someone believes it’s necessary to invade a pizza parlor with an assault rifle, but that’s a real tough computational challenge.

    What this line of defense leaves out is a very basic, obvious fact: YouTube already has access to an algorithm that can sort through videos without promoting unhinged fringe material. It’s called Google. YouTube is part of Google. When and if Google’s search algorithms start giving Google users fringe results, Google treats that as a failure and tries to fix the algorithms.

    In the Vox piece, Jane Coaston writes about what happened when she searched “Trump” on a site that tracks YouTube’s video recommendations:

    The first recommended video was from MSNBC, detailing James Comey’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. The second recommended video was a QAnon-themed video — relating to the conspiracy theory alleging President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller are working together to uncover a vast pedophile network including many prominent Democrats (and actor Tom Hanks). (“D5” refers to December 5, which QAnon believers argued would be the day when thousands of their political enemies would be arrested.)

    Here is what came up when I tried a search for “Trump” on the “Videos” tab of Google.com:

    [see image of Google search results showing a lack of conspiracy theory results]

    Searching “Hillary Clinton” recommendations from YouTube led Coaston straight to conspiracy theories, including murder. Here’s “Hillary Clinton” on a Google video search:

    [see image of Google video search results showing a lack of conspiracy theory results]

    It’s true that Google and YouTube are different services, with different architecture. Google was built to index the Web and sort through existing material; YouTube hosts video content itself. That distinction, though, isn’t as big as it might seem—Google video search points toward video on the websites of various news organizations, such as the Washington Post or AP News, and YouTube has to point to YouTube, but the Washington Post and AP News are also YouTube content providers. much everyone is.

    And so YouTube doesn’t have to pick out Pizzagaters or MRAs or neo-phrenologists. It has the power to send viewers in the opposite direction. The people who run YouTube made the choice to teach its algorithms to value trash—even if they thought they were teaching the system to value something more neutral, like viewing time. There was a time, in living memory, when the YouTube recommendation system was less aggressive and it acted like Google: stacking up more and more songs by the same band you were listening to, say, or the same subject you were watching a clip about, until you’d had all you wanted and were done.

    There is no way to be done in the fever swamps. What distinguishes the people in charge of YouTube from the people in charge of Google search is that the goal of Google search is to settle on satisfying results. The goal of YouTube is to keep people unsettled and unhappy, so they keep watching and keep seeing more ads. A less poisonous index would encourage to people leave the site after they got what they’d come there for. The algorithm the company really doesn’t want to tinker with is the one that tells it to make the most money it possibly can.

    ———-

    “YouTube Already Knows How to Stop Serving Toxic Videos” by Tom Scocca; HmmDaily; 12/12/2018

    “The humans who run YouTube (and run its algorithms) aren’t exactly proud of the fact that their product showcases misogynist rants or pseudoscientific nonsense or apocalyptic conspiracy theories. But their position is that what happens inside their black box is extremely hard to correct or regulate, and on the scale at which YouTube operates, it’s impossible to apply human judgment to every case. They wish there was a way to serve up video recommendations without poisoning people’s minds till someone believes it’s necessary to invade a pizza parlor with an assault rifle, but that’s a real tough computational challenge.

    There’s just nothing that can be done. the algorithms are too complex. That’s basically YouTube’s excuse. But as the article points out, all YouTube would have to do is adopt an algorithm closer to the Google Video search. That’s pretty much it. And that’s how YouTube used to operate. But when the goal of the service is to maximize eyeballs, an algorithm that effectively radicalizes the audience is what that business model demands:


    What this line of defense leaves out is a very basic, obvious fact: YouTube already has access to an algorithm that can sort through videos without promoting unhinged fringe material. It’s called Google. YouTube is part of Google. When and if Google’s search algorithms start giving Google users fringe results, Google treats that as a failure and tries to fix the algorithms.

    In the Vox piece, Jane Coaston writes about what happened when she searched “Trump” on a site that tracks YouTube’s video recommendations:

    The first recommended video was from MSNBC, detailing James Comey’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. The second recommended video was a QAnon-themed video — relating to the conspiracy theory alleging President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller are working together to uncover a vast pedophile network including many prominent Democrats (and actor Tom Hanks). (“D5” refers to December 5, which QAnon believers argued would be the day when thousands of their political enemies would be arrested.)

    Here is what came up when I tried a search for “Trump” on the “Videos” tab of Google.com:

    [see image of Google search results showing a lack of conspiracy theory results]

    Searching “Hillary Clinton” recommendations from YouTube led Coaston straight to conspiracy theories, including murder. Here’s “Hillary Clinton” on a Google video search:

    [see image of Google video search results showing a lack of conspiracy theory results]

    And so YouTube doesn’t have to pick out Pizzagaters or MRAs or neo-phrenologists. It has the power to send viewers in the opposite direction. The people who run YouTube made the choice to teach its algorithms to value trash—even if they thought they were teaching the system to value something more neutral, like viewing time. There was a time, in living memory, when the YouTube recommendation system was less aggressive and it acted like Google: stacking up more and more songs by the same band you were listening to, say, or the same subject you were watching a clip about, until you’d had all you wanted and were done.

    So as we can see, YouTube could address this probably fairly easily. But doing so might reduce eyeballs somewhat and cut into the company’s profits somewhat. It’s all a reminder that the assumption that profit-maximization is good for society as a whole is one of those social meta-algorithms that really needs to be addressed too. Especially in an era when serving up disinformation is a proven method for maximizing profits. Otherwise get ready for our Frazzledrip-on-steroids future.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 13, 2018, 3:45 pm
  14. Here’s a pair of articles about two examples of the same underlying phenomena: The ongoing use of major social media platforms for the promotion of far right memes and ideas and the tolerance of this by these social media giants.

    This first article from last month is about PewDiePie, a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg, and his promotion of the YouTube channel of “E;R”, a notorious alt right personality. As the article makes clear, this isn’t the first time Kjellberg has been called out for promoting far right personalities or making anti-Semitic comments of his own. Or the second time. Or the third time. It’s a well established pattern with Kjellberg, which he tries to brush off as either accidents or jokes. So there’s a distinct *wink wink* nature to his injection of this content into his streams that’s used to deflect criticism and so far that strategy appears to have worked for Kjellberg, which is a pretty big deal because PewDiePie is YouTube’s most popular personality. Yep, the most popular personality on YouTube just can’t stop flirting with neo-Nazis and whenever he gets caught his millions of mostly young followers view it as unfair persecution:

    Vox

    YouTube’s most popular user amplified anti-Semitic rhetoric. Again.
    PewDiePie has 76 million followers — and a history of flirting with alt-right culture. The potential consequences are grave.

    By Aja Romano
    Dec 13, 2018, 3:00pm EST

    YouTube’s most popular user is once again facing backlash — this time for promoting a highly anti-Semitic channel by recommending a video featuring a racial slur and a white supremacist conspiracy.

    With 76 million subscribers, gaming vlogger PewDiePie, a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg, is the most popular individual on YouTube. In a since-edited video posted on December 9, he recommended several YouTube channels he said he’d been enjoying recently. One of those channels is called “E;R,” and PewDiePie lauded its “great video essays,” including “one on [the Netflix movie] Death Note which I really enjoyed.” He also linked to the channel in his video description. (The recommendation has since been edited out of the video.)

    To casual observers, PewDiePie’s support of E;R may have appeared harmless — one YouTube user supporting another. But a more-than-cursory dive into the channel would have revealed several instances of disturbing imagery, slurs, and white supremacist messaging. E;R’s creator even refers to his reputation as a racist in the channel’s FAQ.

    The outcry against PewDiePie’s recommendation of the channel was immediate, with media outlets and other YouTube users citing it as an example of PewDiePie flirting with alt-right culture and sending a dangerous message to his millions of followers, many of whom are teenagers.

    In response, PewDiePie released a follow-up video on December 11 in which he described the incident as an “oopsie” and scoffed at the idea that he was promoting anti-Semitism by merely “recommending someone for their anime review.”

    “All I said was I like this guy’s anime review,” PewDiePie says in the video. “[The channel creator] apparently likes to have hidden and not-so-hidden Nazi references in his videos and obviously if I noticed that I wouldn’t have referenced him in the shoutout.”

    PewDiePie also referred to several past incidents that sparked a similar outcry: a video in which he performed a Nazi “heil” salute, and one in which he hired a pair of performers from a freelancer website to hold up a sign reading “Death to all Jews.” He said these examples were satirical, but many observers condemned them as anti-Semitic.

    “I said publicly a year and a half ago that I was going to distance myself from Nazi jokes and that kind of stuff, because I want nothing to do with it,” PewDiePie explained. Generally, I’ve done that. I don’t really have a reason to dip into that again — it’s just stupid.”

    But each of the three videos that PewDiePie featured in his since-removed shoutout of the E;R channel featured fairly obvious examples of the channel’s offensive content — in fact, not only did part one of the Death Note review that PewDiePie said he liked directly invoke a racial slur in its video description (the description has since been edited), but the first 15 seconds of part two contain a reference to a 2017 incident in which PewDiePie himself dropped a racial slur, strategically edited but unmissable if you’re familiar with the clip in question — which most of PewDiePie’s followers would reasonably be.

    Should PewDiePie have known better? His critics say yes; though he has been dismissive about the uproar, this is not the first time he has appeared to flirt with alt-right beliefs, and he’s previously faced backlash for this type of incident many times.

    At this point, I’ve stopped giving Pewdiepie the benefit of the doubt. Paying poor people to hold up a “Death to all J*ws” sign,saying the n-word on stream,promoting Ben Shapiro and the Ralph Retort,and his recent crap?How many times does this need to happen for people to see it?
    — The Violent Pacifist (@Desolate_Dude) December 10, 2018

    But PewDiePie and his supporters say his critics are overreacting to a harmless mistake.

    How many times can a person explain a fuc king joke to multiple people
    WHEN WILL PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT FELIX IS MAKING SATIRE, HE IS NOT SERIOUS MOST OF THE TIMES AND STOP FUC KING TREATING EVERYTHING HE SAYS SERIOUSLY
    I’m goddamn tired of telling people that @pewdiepie is joking pic.twitter.com/w7Y6eP9A3s
    — ???? ??. ?? (@xNataLeax) December 10, 2018

    Regardless of PewDiePie’s intent, any anti-Semitic commentary — no matter how “joking” — could have a dangerous effect. PewDiePie’s 76 million followers tend to skew young, with the majority of his subscribers younger than 24 and 11 percent of them younger than 17. And they are not passive fans; rather, they known for their aggressive loyalty to PewDiePie, to the point that they’ve created a YouTube-wide “subscribe to PewDiePie” meme that has pushed his follower count to nearly 80 million.

    So what happens if these young, aggressively loyal, highly mobilized PewDiePie fans begin consuming extremist strains of YouTube content because they were exposed to it, either directly or indirectly, through his channel?

    As ethnographer Crystal Abidin has written, “millions” of young YouTube users have previously been “seduced into joining camps and participating in global discursive debates in defence of/in opposition to Influencers.”

    So the idea that PewDiePie is amplifying anti-Semitic and other extremist content to millions of impressionable young viewers is alarming.

    The channel that PewDiePie linked to is a hotbed of anti-Semitism, racism, and alt-right rhetoric disguised as pop culture commentary

    The E;R YouTube channel has a long history of anti-Semitic imagery and messaging. The channel’s anonymous creator, who uses the E;R handle on several online platforms, also habitually links to his accounts on social media sites known to attract members of the alt-right — including Gab, which, as Jane Coaston previously wrote for Vox, “is a focal site for neo-Nazis and others who want to espouse right-wing forms of anti-Semitism.”

    The Death Note review that PewDiePie cited uses a racial slur to refer to one of the characters in the movie. The video also contains a reference to a false white nationalist conspiracy theory that Heather Heyer, the protester who was murdered at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 — and whose killer was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison — actually died of a heart attack.

    This indirect, dog-whistle form of alt-right messaging is common for the channel, which deliberately uses pop culture imagery, mainly drawn from animated series like Death Note and in particular the Cartoon Network TV series Steven Universe, as a tool for spreading white supremacist propaganda. Some of the many examples littering the channel’s videos include frequent references to media creators and other public figures using the historically loaded slur “Jews,” and references to anti-Semitic conspiracy phraseology such as “the Jewish question,” a frequent alt-right dog whistle that refers to the “Endlösung der Judenfrage” — German for “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and the official Nazi code language for planning and carrying out the Holocaust.

    The channel also refers to black characters from pop culture as “Negroes,” and contains mentions of being “redpilled,” blatantly racist imagery and stereotypes, homophobic slurs, mocking references to feminism and the idea of rape culture, sexist slurs, and sexist portrayals of women.

    In the thumbnail for one video, the channel’s creator distorts a black actor’s face to exaggerate their features in a blatantly racist fashion. In another video, E;R turns a clip in which Barack Obama repeats the phrase “choose hope” into a deeply anti-Semitic slur referencing a notoriously horrific fact about the Holocaust.

    And throughout many videos focused on Steven Universe, E;R presents the show’s characters as analogues for Jewish people, coding them with anti-Semitic stereotypes. In one such video, he portrays one character as a deceptive tool for a global Jewish conspiracy, as indicated by a montage of public figures and businessmen, and then ends the video with an altered version of a white supremacist slogan known as the “14 words.”

    In other words, there is serious anti-Semitic and white supremacist propaganda underlying the “great video essays” that PewDiePie endorsed.

    Since PewDiePie’s December 9 video drew greater attention to the E;R channel, YouTube has reportedly suspended one of the creator’s videos and issued a strike against the account for violating the site’s community guidelines. The suspended video, which according to E;R had 2 million views at the time of its removal from YouTube, was ostensibly about Steven Universe — but it also contained four minutes of unedited footage of Hitler delivering a speech. YouTube did not respond to a request from Vox for comment.

    This is not the first time that PewDiePie has used his considerable influence to peddle alt-right messaging

    To many YouTube users, the content of the E;R channel itself isn’t as concerning as the fact that PewDiePie — who, again, is YouTube’s most popular individual user — has endorsed it, and that PewDiePie has what is by now a well-established larger pattern of giving a platform to alt-right ideas and personalities.

    That’s alarming for multiple reasons — starting with the fact that the alt-right has been rapidly gaining ground on YouTube. The movement encompasses multiple overlapping internet subcultures, but is built atop a foundation of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and anti-feminist ideology. It is characterized by highly sophisticated messaging and recruitment tactics, frequent harassment campaigns, and an emphasis on irony, plausible deniability, and memetic behavior — all of which have grown out of broader online culture, and which now work as a seductive veneer for its ideology across grassroots internet communities on sites like YouTube, 4chan, Reddit, and other communities.

    As Zack Beauchamp has previously written for Vox, “There’s a tremendous library of far-right content on [YouTube], as one might expect on a largely unregulated video uploading service, and … the videos appear to be effective at radicalizing people. A not-insignificant number of people exposed to these videos … finds them persuasive — and end up joining the alt-right or other far-right movements as a result.”

    Which brings us back to PewDiePie shouting out a channel full of anti-Semitic rhetoric to his 76 million followers.

    In the days since PewDiePie first linked to E;R, the channel has gained 35,000 new followers, while many critics of PewDiePie, on both YouTube and other social media platforms, have spoken out against him.

    “[P]ewdiepie is, once again, doing exactly what neo-nazis want,” Kotaku reporter Nathan Grayson commented on Twitter in response to the incident. “[W]hether he’s just memeing or he ascribes to these values, it doesn’t matter. [W]hat matters is that he normalizes these ideas as jokes on THE platform where kids increasingly get their first exposure to the world at large.”

    As Grayson notes, PewDiePie’s endorsement of the E;R channel continues a long trend of the vlogger using his influence in a way that helps to normalize white supremacist alt-right rhetoric to an alarming — and, on YouTube, increasingly widespread — degree. He does this by casually incorporating it into his videos under the guise of shock humor, then shrugging off any offense as an “oopsie” when outcry ensues. In 2016 and 2017, for example, PewDiePie faced intense backlash for multiple instances in which he promoted Nazi symbolism and anti-Semitism, including a video where he used a racist slur during a gaming live stream.

    But despite having faced consequences for this behavior in the past, including losing a lucrative Disney sponsorship, PewDiePie has still been able to secure new marketing partnerships and grow his following.

    Meanwhile, his followers have consistently shown support and love for PewDiePie and disdain for media outlets that have reported on his controversies.

    “If your frame of reference is YouTube,” Max Read recently wrote in the Intelligencer, one might view an attack on PewDiePie as “an attack on your close friend.”

    And though the furor around PewDiePie’s repeated antics subsided after each new incident, his flirting with alt-right ideas has continued. Though he has never openly identified himself as a member or supporter of the alt-right, he has liked and promote channels run by users with ties to the many overlapping internet movements, communities, and subcultures that loosely define the alt-right.

    Earlier this year, he made a video in which he reviewed a controversial self-help book by Jordan Peterson — a right-wing personality who is beloved by many in the alt-right. In the review, PewDiePie endorsed the book, called it a “fun” read, and said he would take some of its advice.

    Additionally, in response to PewDiePie’s recommendation of the E;R channel, its owner described PewDiePie as producing “redpilled content.” (In far-right discourse, “taking the red pill” or having been “redpilled” implies that someone has “woken up” to the alt-right worldview, which includes the belief that feminism is ruining everything and frequently involves white supremacist dog whistling.)

    And it’s easy to see why. Before declaring in 2017 that he would stop making Nazi jokes, PewDiePie made a whole lot of Nazi jokes. Even since then, he’s produced several “satirical” videos and commentary that his alt-right followers have praised as examples of his “dropping redpills” on the rest of his fans.

    While PewDiePie only follows a few hundred people on Twitter, many of them have ties to the aforementioned internet movements, communities, and subcultures that loosely define the alt-right, which include Gamergate, Mens’ Rights activism, Pick-Up Artist communities, incels, Reddit’s r/The_Donald community, some atheists and skeptics subcultures, and other online communities that foster white supremacy and radical right-wing extremism.

    These include Peterson, the prominent Gamergate writer Ian Miles Cheong, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson, YouTube philosopher Stefan Molyneux, the Canadian blogger Lauren Southern, YouTube sex education vlogger Laci Green (who made headlines last year after posting a controversial video in which she stated that she “took the red pill a long time ago,” in reference to a new wish to begin publicly debating members of the alt-right), and leading figures of YouTube’s reactionary right-wing community, like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro. PewDiePie also followed notorious alt-right YouTuber Sargon of Akkad until the latter’s suspension from Twitter last year. (PewDiePie has not responded to a request from Vox for comment.)

    It might not seem particularly meaningful that PewDiePie follows this specific group of people on Twitter. But in fact, a recent report from the nonprofit research group Data & Society identified seven of the figures above (Peterson, Rubin, Shapiro, Sargon, Molyneux, Southern, and Watson) as part of an “alternative influencer” network that has developed within YouTube — one that allows far-right extremists to spread their message through frequent social interaction with more mainstream YouTube users.

    “Social networking between influencers makes it easy for audience members to be incrementally exposed to, and come to trust, ever more extremist political positions,” the report’s author, Rebecca Lewis, wrote.

    To his defiant followers, PewDiePie has come to represent a larger culture clash over YouTube itself. That makes his alt-right flirtation even more pernicious.

    PewDiePie’s massive popularity has given him considerable influence over the future of YouTube. In fact, his channel currently sits directly at the center of what seems to be a growing divide between two very different directions for an increasingly polarized platform.

    On one side lies many overlapping subcultures that make up huge swaths of the YouTube population: its tremendous gaming communities, including Let’s Play-ers, live streamers, machinima-style editors, and vloggers; its prank cultures and their overlap with stunt personalities like Jake and Logan Paul; and its increasingly insidious alt-right presence.

    On the other side lie many, many YouTube users who visit the site for other reasons and other forms of entertainment, and who arguably aren’t interested in supporting the cult of personalities that might be said to represent “old-school” YouTube. Instead, they come to the site for music, memes, narrative media, instructional videos, and more general forms of content consumption and entertainment.

    These two ends of a vast YouTube spectrum have clashed recently over two interesting and arguably related phenomena — both of which directly involve PewDiePie. The first is an ongoing battle that PewDiePie’s supporters have been waging in order to prevent his channel from being surpassed as the most popular one on YouTube. To keep this from happening, they’ve done everything from take out a Times Square billboard to reportedly hacking into 50,000 printers around the world in order to promote their “subscribe to PewDiePie” meme.

    The second involves YouTube’s annual year-end “Rewind” video. The 2018 video, released on December 6 and described by YouTube as “a who’s who of internet culture,” omitted a number of popular YouTubers, most notably PewDiePie. (The common theory about why these major players — particularly PewdiePie, Logan Paul, and Jake Paul — were omitted is that they’ve each become less-than-stellar examples of YouTube’s community in recent years.) In response, PewDiePie’s followers started a campaign encouraging people to vote down the video, with the result that within a matter of days, YouTube’s 2018 Rewind video has rapidly overtaken an eight-year-old Justin Bieber single to become the most disliked video in YouTube history, with more than 10 million dislikes.

    The tactics of mass campaigning, meme-ing, and brigading that PewDiePie supporters have deployed during each of these campaigns are hallmarks of classic online trollishness — the kind that can seem purely jovial and harmless right up until it becomes something more. The most notable example of “something more” is Gamergate, the misogynistic movement that began in gaming culture in 2014 and has since expanded into wider, more overtly political harassment campaigns. The movement was born out of the most toxic impulses of gaming culture, and while it is not explicitly linked to PewDiePie or his followers, his deep involvement in gaming culture and Gamergate’s overlap with YouTube communities (including the gaming, Pick-Up Artist, atheist/skeptics, and right-wing political spheres) likely exposed many PewDiePie followers to both its tactics and its alt-right politics.

    Given PewDiePie’s high level of influence over followers who are in turn deeply committed to waging meme wars in his name, and given that those followers are deploying the same tools of memeified, joking harassment and brigading that the alt-right is known to deploy, his appearance of flirting with alt-right ideas and rhetoric becomes concerning.

    In essence, as Read proposed in the Intelligencer, YouTube’s most influential personality is using his platform in ways that could push millions of his already devoted followers toward online extremism.

    “PewDiePie’s status as the standard-bearer of True YouTube gives his position in broader political debates an outsize weight,” Read wrote. “And if you start from the position that PewDiePie is great and his critics unfair (and possibly disingenuous), you may soon find yourself taking on some unfortunate new political positions.”

    As Julia Alexander noted in The Verge, the progression that Read describes is already visible; for example, some commenters on the E;R channel have expressed gratitude to the channel for exposing them to Nazi ideology, in some cases “thanking E;R for bringing attention to some of Hitler’s speeches.”

    The frustrating nature of PewDiePie’s flirtation with alt-right culture is that by repeatedly dismissing criticism as oversensitivity and insisting he’s just being satirical, he maintains the plausible deniability that the alt-right counts on to aid in distilling its messaging throughout mainstream culture.

    Members of various alt-right movements, including the owner of the E;R channel, appear to be fully aware of this. On his Gab account, when another user asked him, “What is the best way to red pill people on the (((Jewish Question))),” the owner of the E;R channel responded, “Pretend to joke about it until the punchline /really/ lands.”

    But as the latest controversy around PewDiePie illustrates, his jokes have failed to land with many, and when examining the reach of PewDiePie’s influence alongside his apparent drift toward the far right, it’s increasingly difficult to laugh.

    ———-

    “YouTube’s most popular user amplified anti-Semitic rhetoric. Again.” by Aja Romano; Vox; 12/13/2018

    “The frustrating nature of PewDiePie’s flirtation with alt-right culture is that by repeatedly dismissing criticism as oversensitivity and insisting he’s just being satirical, he maintains the plausible deniability that the alt-right counts on to aid in distilling its messaging throughout mainstream culture.

    Frequent jokes about neo-Nazi memes done in a plausibly deniable manner and dismissing any criticisms as oversensitivity over his satire. That’s what YouTube’s most popular personality regularly does, which just happens to be exactly what the Alt Right does too. Sometimes he’s calls it an “oopsie” and sometimes he calls it satire (which are mutually exclusive excuses). And this happens over and over, with the latest instances in December when he promted the YouTube channel of “E;R”, a notorious neo-Nazi:


    With 76 million subscribers, gaming vlogger PewDiePie, a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg, is the most popular individual on YouTube. In a since-edited video posted on December 9, he recommended several YouTube channels he said he’d been enjoying recently. One of those channels is called “E;R,” and PewDiePie lauded its “great video essays,” including “one on [the Netflix movie] Death Note which I really enjoyed.” He also linked to the channel in his video description. (The recommendation has since been edited out of the video.)

    The outcry against PewDiePie’s recommendation of the channel was immediate, with media outlets and other YouTube users citing it as an example of PewDiePie flirting with alt-right culture and sending a dangerous message to his millions of followers, many of whom are teenagers.

    In response, PewDiePie released a follow-up video on December 11 in which he described the incident as an “oopsie” and scoffed at the idea that he was promoting anti-Semitism by merely “recommending someone for their anime review.”

    “All I said was I like this guy’s anime review,” PewDiePie says in the video. “[The channel creator] apparently likes to have hidden and not-so-hidden Nazi references in his videos and obviously if I noticed that I wouldn’t have referenced him in the shoutout.”

    PewDiePie also referred to several past incidents that sparked a similar outcry: a video in which he performed a Nazi “heil” salute, and one in which he hired a pair of performers from a freelancer website to hold up a sign reading “Death to all Jews.” He said these examples were satirical, but many observers condemned them as anti-Semitic.

    “I said publicly a year and a half ago that I was going to distance myself from Nazi jokes and that kind of stuff, because I want nothing to do with it,” PewDiePie explained. Generally, I’ve done that. I don’t really have a reason to dip into that again — it’s just stupid.”

    But each of the three videos that PewDiePie featured in his since-removed shoutout of the E;R channel featured fairly obvious examples of the channel’s offensive content — in fact, not only did part one of the Death Note review that PewDiePie said he liked directly invoke a racial slur in its video description (the description has since been edited), but the first 15 seconds of part two contain a reference to a 2017 incident in which PewDiePie himself dropped a racial slur, strategically edited but unmissable if you’re familiar with the clip in question — which most of PewDiePie’s followers would reasonably be.

    Should PewDiePie have known better? His critics say yes; though he has been dismissive about the uproar, this is not the first time he has appeared to flirt with alt-right beliefs, and he’s previously faced backlash for this type of incident many times.

    And PewDiePie doesn’t just have the largest audience in YouTube. He also has a relatively young audience of die hard fans, with a majority under the age of 24. So these millions of viewers are basically encouraged to ‘choose sides’ every time PewDiePie does this:


    Regardless of PewDiePie’s intent, any anti-Semitic commentary — no matter how “joking” — could have a dangerous effect. PewDiePie’s 76 million followers tend to skew young, with the majority of his subscribers younger than 24 and 11 percent of them younger than 17. And they are not passive fans; rather, they known for their aggressive loyalty to PewDiePie, to the point that they’ve created a YouTube-wide “subscribe to PewDiePie” meme that has pushed his follower count to nearly 80 million.

    So what happens if these young, aggressively loyal, highly mobilized PewDiePie fans begin consuming extremist strains of YouTube content because they were exposed to it, either directly or indirectly, through his channel?

    As ethnographer Crystal Abidin has written, “millions” of young YouTube users have previously been “seduced into joining camps and participating in global discursive debates in defence of/in opposition to Influencers.”

    So the idea that PewDiePie is amplifying anti-Semitic and other extremist content to millions of impressionable young viewers is alarming.

    And “E;R”‘s YouTube channel similarly has a youth-oriented approach of incorporate Nazi memes into pop culture imagery largely drawn from cartoons. That’s the kind of channel YouTube recommended to his young viewers:


    The channel that PewDiePie linked to is a hotbed of anti-Semitism, racism, and alt-right rhetoric disguised as pop culture commentary

    The E;R YouTube channel has a long history of anti-Semitic imagery and messaging. The channel’s anonymous creator, who uses the E;R handle on several online platforms, also habitually links to his accounts on social media sites known to attract members of the alt-right — including Gab, which, as Jane Coaston previously wrote for Vox, “is a focal site for neo-Nazis and others who want to espouse right-wing forms of anti-Semitism.”

    The Death Note review that PewDiePie cited uses a racial slur to refer to one of the characters in the movie. The video also contains a reference to a false white nationalist conspiracy theory that Heather Heyer, the protester who was murdered at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 — and whose killer was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison — actually died of a heart attack.

    This indirect, dog-whistle form of alt-right messaging is common for the channel, which deliberately uses pop culture imagery, mainly drawn from animated series like Death Note and in particular the Cartoon Network TV series Steven Universe, as a tool for spreading white supremacist propaganda. Some of the many examples littering the channel’s videos include frequent references to media creators and other public figures using the historically loaded slur “Jews,” and references to anti-Semitic conspiracy phraseology such as “the Jewish question,” a frequent alt-right dog whistle that refers to the “Endlösung der Judenfrage” — German for “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and the official Nazi code language for planning and carrying out the Holocaust.

    And despite losing sponsorships like Disney’s sponsorship, PewDiePie has managed to find new sponsors and grow his audience. In other words, the most popular personality on YouTube has figured out how to make a sustainable business model that factors in the loss of sponsors over his repeated Alt Right memeing:


    “[P]ewdiepie is, once again, doing exactly what neo-nazis want,” Kotaku reporter Nathan Grayson commented on Twitter in response to the incident. “[W]hether he’s just memeing or he ascribes to these values, it doesn’t matter. [W]hat matters is that he normalizes these ideas as jokes on THE platform where kids increasingly get their first exposure to the world at large.”

    As Grayson notes, PewDiePie’s endorsement of the E;R channel continues a long trend of the vlogger using his influence in a way that helps to normalize white supremacist alt-right rhetoric to an alarming — and, on YouTube, increasingly widespread — degree. He does this by casually incorporating it into his videos under the guise of shock humor, then shrugging off any offense as an “oopsie” when outcry ensues. In 2016 and 2017, for example, PewDiePie faced intense backlash for multiple instances in which he promoted Nazi symbolism and anti-Semitism, including a video where he used a racist slur during a gaming live stream.

    But despite having faced consequences for this behavior in the past, including losing a lucrative Disney sponsorship, PewDiePie has still been able to secure new marketing partnerships and grow his following.

    Meanwhile, his followers have consistently shown support and love for PewDiePie and disdain for media outlets that have reported on his controversies.

    And this is all why “E;R” describes PewDiePie as being a producer of “redpilled content” and the Alt Right view him as one of their own. Because he is one of their own:


    And though the furor around PewDiePie’s repeated antics subsided after each new incident, his flirting with alt-right ideas has continued. Though he has never openly identified himself as a member or supporter of the alt-right, he has liked and promote channels run by users with ties to the many overlapping internet movements, communities, and subcultures that loosely define the alt-right.

    Earlier this year, he made a video in which he reviewed a controversial self-help book by Jordan Peterson — a right-wing personality who is beloved by many in the alt-right. In the review, PewDiePie endorsed the book, called it a “fun” read, and said he would take some of its advice.

    Additionally, in response to PewDiePie’s recommendation of the E;R channel, its owner described PewDiePie as producing “redpilled content.” (In far-right discourse, “taking the red pill” or having been “redpilled” implies that someone has “woken up” to the alt-right worldview, which includes the belief that feminism is ruining everything and frequently involves white supremacist dog whistling.)

    And it’s easy to see why. Before declaring in 2017 that he would stop making Nazi jokes, PewDiePie made a whole lot of Nazi jokes. Even since then, he’s produced several “satirical” videos and commentary that his alt-right followers have praised as examples of his “dropping redpills” on the rest of his fans.

    While PewDiePie only follows a few hundred people on Twitter, many of them have ties to the aforementioned internet movements, communities, and subcultures that loosely define the alt-right, which include Gamergate, Mens’ Rights activism, Pick-Up Artist communities, incels, Reddit’s r/The_Donald community, some atheists and skeptics subcultures, and other online communities that foster white supremacy and radical right-wing extremism.<

    These include Peterson, the prominent Gamergate writer Ian Miles Cheong, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson, YouTube philosopher Stefan Molyneux, the Canadian blogger Lauren Southern, YouTube sex education vlogger Laci Green (who made headlines last year after posting a controversial video in which she stated that she “took the red pill a long time ago,” in reference to a new wish to begin publicly debating members of the alt-right), and leading figures of YouTube’s reactionary right-wing community, like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro. PewDiePie also followed notorious alt-right YouTuber Sargon of Akkad until the latter’s suspension from Twitter last year. (PewDiePie has not responded to a request from Vox for comment.)

    The frustrating nature of PewDiePie’s flirtation with alt-right culture is that by repeatedly dismissing criticism as oversensitivity and insisting he’s just being satirical, he maintains the plausible deniability that the alt-right counts on to aid in distilling its messaging throughout mainstream culture.

    Members of various alt-right movements, including the owner of the E;R channel, appear to be fully aware of this. On his Gab account, when another user asked him, “What is the best way to red pill people on the (((Jewish Question))),” the owner of the E;R channel responded, “Pretend to joke about it until the punchline /really/ lands.”

    So that’s another look at the neo-Nazi infestation still taking place on YouTube: The most popular figure on the platform is a crypto-Nazi for kids and young adults.

    Next, here’s an article about how Twitter moderators just can’t seem to adequately keep neo-Nazi content off of the platform despite previous pledges to do so. And this is the case even when users report neo-Nazi content directly to the moderators:

    BuzzFeed News

    It’s 2019 And Twitter’s Moderation Team Is Still Struggling With Swastika Photoshops

    How is it that moderators tasked with parsing abusive behavior miss a poorly photoshopped image of an infant with a bright red swastika on their forehead?

    Charlie Warzel
    BuzzFeed News Reporter

    Posted on January 9, 2019, at 1:57 p.m. ET

    It was around 10 a.m. Wednesday when Tablet magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg noticed the swastika-laden photoshop of a baby. The disturbing image was part of a Twitter account claiming to be his infant child (it was not). “Account for my son Yair Jr controlled by @yair_rosenberg,” the account’s bio read, which also included Rosenberg’s full name in the handle.

    No stranger to Twitter threats and abuse, Rosenberg — who has written extensively about neo-Nazis and online trolls — quickly reported the account, which was in clear violation of Twitter’s policies on abusive behavior, hateful conduct, and impersonation. Just 36 minutes later, Rosenberg received a familiar, dispiriting form email from Twitter: “We reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter rules against abusive behavior.”

    As has become custom when Twitter’s moderation team fail to do its job, Rosenberg tweeted about the disturbing photo and added a screenshot of Twitter’s abuse report rejection. The tweet went viral. Within an hour, Twitter reversed its decision and took down the account.

    Starting in 2017, Twitter has devoted considerable resources to trying to curb its rampant abuse and harassment problems. It has written a slew of new rules, expanded its options for reporting violating behavior, and removed violating accounts at a higher frequency. Many people — including Rosenberg — have suggested Twitter has gotten a better handle on harassment. And still, two years after the site redoubled its efforts, a concerning number of reports of clear-cut harassment still seem to slip through the cracks.

    Despite Twitter’s countless calls to increase transparency, its abuse report infrastructure remains opaque and sometimes confounding. Online harassment can be tricky to parse — there are issues of language, cultural norms vary, and moderators who have only a few moments to weigh in on a report may miss more subtle examples of harassment (which is precisely why culturally specific training remains crucial). But Twitter’s most publicized examples of dismissed reports often aren’t shades of gray, but clear black-and-white issues. And this case’s dismissal raises the question: In 2019, if a crudely photoshopped image of an infant with a bright red swastika plastered on their forehead isn’t an open-and-shut case, what is?

    Rosenberg’s tweet went viral quickly not just because it was an egregious example of abuse but because it is such a common occurrence. On Twitter, the dismissed abuse report has become its own trope — an outrage meme of sorts that signals the deep frustration that somehow, this keeps happening.

    Like when these 70 rape threats against a programmer were dismissed.

    Or when 2,700 Twitter users told BuzzFeed News about their struggles with abuse on the social network.

    Or when 90% of respondents to a BuzzFeed News survey in 2016 said Twitter didn’t do anything when they reported abuse.

    Or when this ISIS beheading photo didn’t qualify as abuse.

    Or when Twitter didn’t initially block attempts to disenfranchise voters on its service in 2016.

    Or when it only blocked these false voting information claims after reports from BuzzFeed News.

    Or when it allowed a promoted tweet from a Nazi website.

    Or when Twitter suspended a woman’s account after she tweeted the anti-Semitic images trolls had sent her.

    There were also the confusing suspensions and reinstatements of white supremacists David Duke and Richard Spencer.

    Or these 89 instances in 2017 of users alleging that they received at least one improper dismissal of their harassment claim.

    Or when Twitter restricted actor Rose McGowan’s account instead of just deleting one tweet.

    Or when it had to pause its verification system after its decision to verify a white supremacist who organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

    And the list goes on…unless you’re a bitcoin scammer, then it’s OK!

    ———-

    “It’s 2019 And Twitter’s Moderation Team Is Still Struggling With Swastika Photoshops” by Charlie Warzel; BuzzFeed News; 01/09/2019

    “Starting in 2017, Twitter has devoted considerable resources to trying to curb its rampant abuse and harassment problems. It has written a slew of new rules, expanded its options for reporting violating behavior, and removed violating accounts at a higher frequency. Many people — including Rosenberg — have suggested Twitter has gotten a better handle on harassment. And still, two years after the site redoubled its efforts, a concerning number of reports of clear-cut harassment still seem to slip through the cracks.

    We’re two years into Twitter explicitly trying to curb the rampant abuse and harassment problems, and the neo-Nazi harassers appear to still be getting a free pass. For example, when a Twitter account was created claiming to be the infant child of journalist Yair Rosenberg and tweeted a swastika-landen photoshop of a baby at Rosenberg, he report it to Twitter only to have Twitter’s moderators inform him that the post of a swastika-laden baby sent from a fake account pretending to be Rosenberg’s infant son wasn’t a violation of Twitter’s rules against harassment. But then Rosenberg tweeted out about this, it went viral, and within an hour Twitter reversed its decision and took down the fake account. So it would appear that Twitters rules against abusive behavior are nebulous enough that it may or may not be a violation of the rules for someone to create a fake account of a Jewish journalist’s infant son and then send him swastika-laden baby pictures:


    It was around 10 a.m. Wednesday when Tablet magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg noticed the swastika-laden photoshop of a baby. The disturbing image was part of a Twitter account claiming to be his infant child (it was not). “Account for my son Yair Jr controlled by @yair_rosenberg,” the account’s bio read, which also included Rosenberg’s full name in the handle.

    No stranger to Twitter threats and abuse, Rosenberg — who has written extensively about neo-Nazis and online trolls — quickly reported the account, which was in clear violation of Twitter’s policies on abusive behavior, hateful conduct, and impersonation. Just 36 minutes later, Rosenberg received a familiar, dispiriting form email from Twitter: “We reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter rules against abusive behavior.”

    As has become custom when Twitter’s moderation team fail to do its job, Rosenberg tweeted about the disturbing photo and added a screenshot of Twitter’s abuse report rejection. The tweet went viral. Within an hour, Twitter reversed its decision and took down the account.

    Rosenberg’s tweet went viral quickly not just because it was an egregious example of abuse but because it is such a common occurrence. On Twitter, the dismissed abuse report has become its own trope — an outrage meme of sorts that signals the deep frustration that somehow, this keeps happening.

    And that’s just one of numerous publicized examples of Twitter either neglecting to address what appear to be pretty black and white instances of abuse:


    Despite Twitter’s countless calls to increase transparency, its abuse report infrastructure remains opaque and sometimes confounding. Online harassment can be tricky to parse — there are issues of language, cultural norms vary, and moderators who have only a few moments to weigh in on a report may miss more subtle examples of harassment (which is precisely why culturally specific training remains crucial). But Twitter’s most publicized examples of dismissed reports often aren’t shades of gray, but clear black-and-white issues. And this case’s dismissal raises the question: In 2019, if a crudely photoshopped image of an infant with a bright red swastika plastered on their forehead isn’t an open-and-shut case, what is?

    Like when these 70 rape threats against a programmer were dismissed.

    Or when 2,700 Twitter users told BuzzFeed News about their struggles with abuse on the social network.

    Or when 90% of respondents to a BuzzFeed News survey in 2016 said Twitter didn’t do anything when they reported abuse.

    Or when this ISIS beheading photo didn’t qualify as abuse.

    Or when Twitter didn’t initially block attempts to disenfranchise voters on its service in 2016.

    Or when it only blocked these false voting information claims after reports from BuzzFeed News.

    Or when it allowed a promoted tweet from a Nazi website.

    Or when Twitter suspended a woman’s account after she tweeted the anti-Semitic images trolls had sent her.

    There were also the confusing suspensions and reinstatements of white supremacists David Duke and Richard Spencer.

    Or these 89 instances in 2017 of users alleging that they received at least one improper dismissal of their harassment claim.

    Or when Twitter restricted actor Rose McGowan’s account instead of just deleting one tweet.

    Or when it had to pause its verification system after its decision to verify a white supremacist who organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

    And the list goes on…unless you’re a bitcoin scammer, then it’s OK!

    Yep, at the same time YouTube’s most popular personality is busy ‘red-pilling’ tens of millions of youths, Twitter appears to quietly tolerating Alt Right abuse. So as we can see, when faced with the reality that their platforms have become neo-Nazi ‘red-pilling’ recruitment tools and stalking grounds, the social media giants are pretending to do something but apparently doing nothing. Which is a choice. The kind of choice that raises the question of how many of the people at these companies made the choice to ‘take the red pill’ themselves.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 29, 2019, 2:18 pm
  15. Here’s a rather interesting, albeit disturbing, story that touches upon a number of different topics of the day. It’s about
    a while nationalist YouTube personality, Jean-François Gariepy, who runs a YouTube channel, NeuroTV, which is ostensibly dedicated to content about neuroscience but in reality is dedicated to proving the superiority it whites and frequently has figures like Richard Spencer and David Duke on as guests. Gariepy is a former neuroscience research at Duke University before leaving in 2015 and starting this YouTube channel. And as the following Rightwing Watch post from December reveals, it turns out Gariepy got $25,000 to start his NeuroTV YouTube channel from none other than Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier at the center of a underage prostitution ring.

    The Epstein scandal is one of those scandals that has the look of a scandal that could explode and take down a number of prominent individuals but has never quite exploded. Two of the prominent individuals known to have previously associated with Epstein include Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. And one of the key witnesses in the case, Virginia Roberts, was working at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort at the age of 16 when she was allegedly recruited to become part of Epstein’s network. The case has also drawn attention to Trump’s Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, who was the federal prosecutor who signed off on a non-prosecution agreement that kept most of the details of the investigation out of the public. Epstein was actually a heavy donor to Democratic politicians in the 90’s and early 2000’s up until his arrest in 2004. In 2008, he was a key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two of Bear Stearns’ top executives in 2008 (Epstein was a top Bear Stearns’ investor) and that was the year his non-prosecution agreement was reached.

    And now we’re learning that Epstein, who is Jewish, apparently gave a white nationalist YouTuber $25,000 to set up his NeuroTV channel. Or rather, his foundation made the donation. Although, as the article notes, NeuroTV hadn’t yet slid into the promotion of white supremacy at the time of the donation, so it’s possible Epstein’s donation wasn’t intended to support the promotion of a sleazy Alt Right personality but was actually supposed to be part of some sort of pro-education move. Either way, it’s quite a twist to the Epstein story and the story of the rise of Alt Right on YouTube:

    Rightwing Watch

    White Nationalist YouTuber Says Jeffrey Epstein Once Gave Him $25,000

    By Jared Holt | December 14, 2018 4:19 pm

    Jean-François Gariépy, a white nationalist YouTuber and podcast host who made his name during the far-right’s “YouTube Bloodsports” phenomena earlier this year, said that he received a large sum of financial support from billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

    The Miami Herald reported last month about the details of Epstein’s plea deal for his suspected orchestration of a criminal sex ring involving underage girls. During a moment of the November 17 edition of his podcast, “The Public Space,” Gariépy says that in the interest of being “transparent” with his audience, he wanted to disclose that he had received a large amount of money from Epstein.

    At the time of the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation’s funding, Gariépy’s YouTube channel was branded “NeuroTV” and featured content about neuroscience. Before sliding into white nationalism, Gariépy was a researcher at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. Now, Gariépy’s channel is frequently home to figures like former KKK leader David Duke, alt-right podcast host Mike Peinovich, and white nationalists Greg Johnson and Richard Spencer.

    The mention was noticed by a user on Twitter, who posted a video excerpt:

    Well, this explains a lot. pic.twitter.com/dYL40Ik7Ab— ?? Soy Foid ?? (@aterfoddbitch) December 14, 2018

    “Jeff Epstein, who we’re talking about here, was an original funder to my YouTube channel,” Gariépy said. “Now, it’s not that I give a sh it about this guy. OK, he got arrested after and the fact that he donated to my channel at the very beginning of my YouTube career does not influence me. I’m not trying to find Jeff Epstein innocent in what he’s been accused of. “

    He continued, “I may never have talked about it, but Jeff Epstein had given $25,000 to my foundation in the U.S. when I started my YouTube career. As a Jewish millionaire, I think he didn’t expect my channel to turn the way it did.”

    ———-

    “White Nationalist YouTuber Says Jeffrey Epstein Once Gave Him $25,000” by Jared Holt; Rightwing Watch; 12/14/2018

    “Jean-François Gariépy, a white nationalist YouTuber and podcast host who made his name during the far-right’s “YouTube Bloodsports” phenomena earlier this year, said that he received a large sum of financial support from billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.”

    Yep, Jean-François Gariépy’s racist YouTube channel got $25,000 from Epstein. Although it’s important to note that, at the time of the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation’s donation, NeuroTV actually featured content about neuroscience. It only later started promoting white supremacy:


    At the time of the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation’s funding, Gariépy’s YouTube channel was branded “NeuroTV” and featured content about neuroscience. Before sliding into white nationalism, Gariépy was a researcher at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. Now, Gariépy’s channel is frequently home to figures like former KKK leader David Duke, alt-right podcast host Mike Peinovich, and white nationalists Greg Johnson and Richard Spencer.

    The mention was noticed by a user on Twitter, who posted a video excerpt:

    Well, this explains a lot. pic.twitter.com/dYL40Ik7Ab— ?? Soy Foid ?? (@aterfoddbitch) December 14, 2018

    “Jeff Epstein, who we’re talking about here, was an original funder to my YouTube channel,” Gariépy said. “Now, it’s not that I give a sh it about this guy. OK, he got arrested after and the fact that he donated to my channel at the very beginning of my YouTube career does not influence me. I’m not trying to find Jeff Epstein innocent in what he’s been accused of. “

    He continued, “I may never have talked about it, but Jeff Epstein had given $25,000 to my foundation in the U.S. when I started my YouTube career. As a Jewish millionaire, I think he didn’t expect my channel to turn the way it did.

    So that’s an interesting story in relation to both the Epstein case and the rise of white nationalism on YouTube.

    But there’s another bizarre chapter to this story that’s noteworthy in the context of white nationalists like Gariepy using YouTube to promote the kind of propaganda that demonizes Latino immigrants as a dangerous to American society: It turns out Gariepy, a Candadian, has a history of getting into inappropriate relationships with American women for the purpose of impregnating them so he can get US citizenship.

    It’s a rather confusing story, in part because there are multiple women he was doing this with. As the following article describes, when Gariepy left Duke in September 2015, he made a Facebook post that characterized his decision to leave as a response to aspects of academic culture he didn’t like. He was married to his third wife at the time, an American woman, although they had separated in July 2015, two months before the Facebook post. She was still pregnant with his child at the time.

    After Gariepy’s Facebook post, a Duke colleague of his contacted his wife (his third wife) and informed her that Gariepy was actually asked not to return to his postdoctoral position and that he had a sexually inappropriate relationship with an undergraduate lab assistant. This relationship went from January 2014 to June 2014, and Gariepy told the woman that he wanted her to have his child. When she rejected his plan the relationship ended with her “suffering from emotional abuse on the part of” Gariepy.

    Gariepy married his third wife earlier in 2015. She accused him of emotional abuse throughout the pregnancy, and of threatening to abduct their child to his native Canada. They separated 5 months after the marriage in July while she was pregnant with his child and moved out of their shared apartment. At that point, she claims, Gariepy began demanding that she put his name on the lease for immigration purposes, and help him apply for a green card. She agreed to attend an immigration interview but only if he would sign separation documents. During the interview, an immigration officer questioned her separately and asked if Gariepy was pressuring her into a green card, she claimed. She said she told the officer it was important for Gariepy to remain in the country for their child’s sake. But after the interview, Gariepy refused to sign the separation documents. Gariepy more or less denies all of this and blames all of these accusations on liberal women trying to smear him for his Alt Right views.

    So it sounds like Gariepy tried to get this undergraduate in a lab to father his child in 2014 and when that didn’t work out he met this other woman who he married in early 2015 and got pregnant. She ended up leaving him during the pregnancy a couple months before Gariepy ended up leaving Duke.

    His third wife gave birth in December 2015 and a custody battle ensued. The month before the child was born, a producer with the Dr. Phil show contacted her lawyer twice because Gariepy had allegedly asked to be on the Dr. Phil show to “publicly address the campaign of false allegations against him.”

    In August or September 2015, during this custody battle with his third wife, Gariepy met a 19 year old Hispanic girl who heard him on the Drunken Peasants podcast. This is the same podcast where Milo Yiannopoulos infamously defended pedophilia. The 19 year has an autism spectrum disorder has “the social and mental maturity of a 10 or 11-year-old child,” according to a counselor’s assessment. Gariepy claims the young woman has a communicative disorder but that she could consent to having a child because “her intelligence and her capacity for making decisions, it’s actually higher probably than the average 19-year-old woman.” Gariepy also claims the two pledged loyalty to each other without having met.

    They did finally meet in July of 2016, when the young woman drove to North Carolina to meet Gariepy. She claimed Gariepy wanted to impregnate her and be a “stay-at-home dad.” Her parents successfully applied for guardianship of her. She told her parents she was engaged to Gariepy and pregnant with his child, although blood tests revealed the teenager wasn’t pregnant.

    To summarize the strange story of Jean-Francois Gariepy romantic adventures, he tried to impregnate an undergraduate lab assistant at his Duke lab in 2014 while he was still a neuroscientist. When that didn’t work out he ended up marrying and impregnating his third wife in early 2015. She left him in July of 2015 and gave birth in December of 2015. During the ensuing custody battle, Gariepy met a 19 year old Hispanic woman while who hear him on a podcast. They pledged loyalty to each other before meeting. When she finally met him in July of 2016 her parents managed to obtain guardianship over her. When she returned to her parents she claimed they were engaged and she was pregnant, although blood tests showed no pregnancy. And the one common theme in all of this is the Gariepy needed to find an American to marry so he wouldn’t be deported:

    The Daily Beast

    Alt-Right YouTuber Accused of Luring Autistic Teen in Pregnancy Plot
    A Canadian immigrant who makes white-nationalist videos with Richard Spencer is accused of trying to impregnate an autistic Hispanic teen—while he was married to another woman.

    Kelly Weill
    03.15.18 5:26 AM ET

    A prominent far-right YouTuber who calls for a white “ethnostate” and makes videos with Richard Spencer is accused of luring and attempting to impregnate a developmentally disabled Hispanic teenager while lawyers contested his U.S. immigration status.

    This comes amid a separate legal battle with his wife, who accused him of trying to kidnap their infant to Canada.

    Jean-Francois Gariepy is a fast-rising fixture in white-nationalist circles. A former neuroscience researcher at Duke University who left suddenly in 2015, Gariepy now makes videos attempting to prove white superiority, calling for all-white separatist states and a crackdown on immigration. White nationalist Richard Spencer recently appeared with him on a livestream.

    Gariepy, a Canadian citizen, also stands accused in two court cases of a pattern of bizarre and abusive behavior toward women—allegations he denied in an interview with The Daily Beast.

    A child-custody case with his third wife includes allegations that Gariepy engaged in misconduct with an undergraduate he supervised at Duke. Gariepy’s wife won sole custody of their newborn after presenting evidence that Gariepy had threatened to abduct the baby to Canada while his visa was dependent on their marriage.

    While that case was ongoing, Gariepy lost a guardianship dispute over an autistic 19-year-old whom a counselor assessed as having “the social and mental maturity of a 10- or 11-year-old child.” Gariepy, who met the young woman online and entered into a sexual relationship with her, claimed in court that the young woman was his pregnant fiancée, although blood tests revealed that she was not pregnant.

    In an interview, Gariepy denied allegations that he had acted improperly and that he had attempted to marry or impregnate women for U.S. immigration purposes, calling the allegations a smear campaign by “leftist women.”

    But court records in the guardianship and custody cases suggest a long history of conflict with women.

    Gariepy, 34, grew up in suburban Montreal, which he described to a court-appointed psychologist as “like paradise.” He said he spent his childhood surrounded by relatives in a village “dominated by our families.” “I didn’t know disharmony until I met other women at 18-19 [years old],” he said, according to the psychologist’s report included in his custody case against his third wife.

    He married his first wife at 18, and divorced at 23. “I wanted a family and she wasn’t into it,” he told the court-appointed psychologist. “She left—she lost interest in me. Also I didn’t know how to satisfy a woman and I was getting fat.” A second marriage, which he claimed was to a woman who was French and “needed to get into Canada,” also failed, he told the psychologist.

    He later left Canada to take a series of research positions at U.S. colleges before settling into an associate research role in Duke’s neuroscience department in September 2011, as the university confirmed to The Daily Beast. In a viral Facebook post in September 2015, Gariepy announced he’d quit Duke because he’d grown disillusioned with the academic community. The post earned him a write-up in Slate.

    But Gariepy’s motives for quitting came into question during the custody dispute. After Gariepy’s viral Facebook post, one of his former Duke colleagues contacted his third wife, whom he had married earlier that year. The former colleague “contacted her after the Facebook posting, [and said] that Dr. Gariepy was not asked to return to his postdoctoral position and that he had a sexually inappropriate relationship with one of the undergraduate lab assistants,” according to court records filed on Gariepy’s wife’s behalf.

    The undergraduate student confirmed the relationship to a private investigator hired by Gariepy’s wife, according to court documents. While they were in a relationship, she told the investigator, Gariepy was her mentor or supervisor at their lab. During their relationship from January until June 2014, Gariepy wanted her to have his child, she told the investigator, according to a sworn affidavit he entered in court. Gariepy “discussed how he would be a stay-at-home father and provide the child all the caring needs for the child,” according to the investigator’s affidavit.

    The undergraduate lab assistant told the investigator that she decided against Gariepy’s plan, and that the relationship ended with her “suffering from emotional abuse on the part of” Gariepy.

    Gariepy told The Daily Beast that their relationship had been consensual, and that the student had disclosed it to Duke University. “There has never been an investigation against me at Duke for being in a relationship with this woman,” he said.

    A representative for Duke University confirmed that Gariepy had worked at the university until August 2015, the month before he publicly announced his departure. The school declined to comment on allegations that Gariepy had left as a result of sexual misconduct. “As a matter of policy, the university does not comment on personnel matters beyond confirming employment status,” the university representative said in an email.

    Gariepy’s viral Facebook post cited another reason for quitting: “I will soon be a father and want to be spending time with my son at home.”

    But that cozy claim was also up for debate. Gariepy and his third wife had separated two months earlier, in July, after fewer than six months of marriage. In a custody case that began the day after their son’s December 2015 birth, Gariepy’s third wife accused him of emotional abuse throughout the pregnancy, and of threatening to abduct their child to his native Canada.

    Both Gariepy’s wife and the court expressed concern over Gariepy’s immigration status.

    “The defendant is a citizen of Canada and currently in the United States under a conditional visa based upon his marriage to the plaintiff,” his wife claimed in court documents. “Said visa is conditional and up for review by U.S. Immigration in July 2016.” In a finding of facts in November 2016, the court wrote that the visa was pending review.

    Gariepy contradicted the court’s finding to The Daily Beast, claiming he had a green card through his new marriage, but that he’s since abandoned it to move back to Canada. “The reality is once I married my ex-wife I was a permanent resident,” he said, claiming he could have become a citizen.

    A green card, or permanent residency, is not immediately conferred upon an immigrant who marries a U.S. citizen. The process requires an application, which includes an in-person interview with both partners. If the green card is approved, and the marriage is less than two years old, the immigrant receives a “conditional” green card, which expires in two years unless both couples reapply, or the couple married “in good faith” but later divorced.

    In a February 2016 finding of facts, the court specifically noted that Gariepy’s visa was pending review “to assure that his marriage isn’t fraudulent.” Gariepy also told The Daily Beast that, prior to his marriage, he had been on a “J-1 visiting scholar visa. I did five years on that.” J-1 visas are short-term and tied to a recipient’s work. After a J-1 recipient completes their program, they must leave the country or obtain another form of documentation.

    In an interview with a court-appointed psychologist, Gariepy also claimed to have pursued marriage and a child for immigration purposes. The relationship “was fast because of her age—she’s older than me,” Gariepy said, according to the psychologist’s report included in court documents. “Other pressures—I’m an immigrant. It was all or nothing—marriage and a baby or I couldn’t stay in the U.S.”

    Gariepy claimed the statements were taken out of context. “I explained that to my ex-wife, either you are interested in me and having a family with me or the U.S. will kick me out after my legal five years of residence,” he told The Daily Beast. “That was merely me explaining to my ex-wife this reality.”

    Shortly into the pregnancy, the relationship grew volatile, both parties agreed. Gariepy claimed in court records that his wife grew “very aggressive—she wasn’t interested in me anymore.” But his wife alleged a pattern of increasingly strange behaviors. Gariepy started making audio recordings of her to “build a case” and posting them to a family planning website, she said in court documents. She claimed Gariepy became controlling, and refused to talk to a therapist, allegedly telling her, “I am the sanest person I know.”

    Five months after their marriage, Gariepy’s wife moved out of their apartment—at which point, she claimed, he began demanding that she put his name on the lease for immigration purposes, and help him apply for a green card. She claimed she agreed to attend an interview, if he would sign separation documents. During the interview, an immigrations officer questioned her separately and asked if Gariepy was pressuring her into a green card, she claimed. She said she told the officer it was important for Gariepy to remain in the country for their child’s sake. But after the interview, she claimed, Gariepy refused to sign the separation documents.

    After moving out, she claimed a neighbor called her to report that police were removing weapons from the couple’s formerly shared apartment. Gariepy later told her in an email that he had asked the sheriff’s department to remove the weapons because he did not “want anyone to feel unsafe or to make false accusations about abuse,” his wife said he wrote. Police were so alarmed by Gariepy’s request to remove the weapons, that an officer with the domestic-violence unit called his wife to ask about her safety, she claimed.

    But the couple’s biggest fights were over the fate of their unborn child. Gariepy said he could deliver the child at home and raise it because of his experience working with monkeys in research labs, his wife claimed in court documents. He also allegedly pressured his wife to give the child a Canadian passport, and threatened to take the child away to Canada. When the couple’s relationship soured further, Gariepy wrote on medical intake forms that he would not comply with doctors’ orders “that would keep [him] from transporting my child to my home,” his wife claimed. He then allegedly visited multiple local OBGYN practices and accused them of discrimination when they would not treat him, going so far as to threaten a lawsuit against Duke hospital.

    Gariepy claimed in court documents that he was trying to meet with an OBGYN for information on a sleep aid he claimed his wife was using.

    The month before the child’s birth, a producer with the Dr. Phil show contacted Gariepy’s wife’s lawyer twice, she claimed. Gariepy had allegedly asked to be on the show to “publicly address the campaign of false allegations against him.”

    Following the advice of police and hospital security, Gariepy’s wife gave birth under an alias in an undisclosed hospital, and filed for custody the day after the child’s birth, she claimed. A judge awarded her full custody, which Gariepy appealed. In proceeding with the appeal, the judge recommended Gariepy undergo a psychological evaluation.

    The psychologist found Gariepy to be “very bright, intellectually,” but said he showed a lack of insight and impulse control, a “sense of being treated unfairly, or victimized,” and displayed distorted thoughts suggesting “overt psychosis.”

    The appeal is ongoing. Since the child’s birth, Gariepy has railed against his wife in YouTube videos, which are now included in the court record. When someone disliked one of the videos, Gariepy posted a link to it, ordering his fans “to find the person who disliked the video and make his/her life more burdensome by reminding him politely how terrible of a human being he/she is,” court records note.

    Gariepy told The Daily Beast he was joking. “I do dark humor, and, yes, some of that dark humor was brought into the custody trial, as if the fact that I do jokes on the public space about race or rape would make me an unfit father,” he said. In one of his 2017 videos, Gariepy claimed courts should not be able to use a person’s public statements against them in a custody battle and that “that is a problem a white ethnostate could solve.”

    But while Gariepy was fighting his wife for custody, he was also courting a 19-year-old with autism. The teenager, who lived in Texas, had “the social and mental maturity of a 10 or 11-year-old child,” according to a counselor’s assessment included in court records.

    People with autism spectrum disorder might experience difficulty with communication or interpersonal relationships, although symptoms vary broadly. The young woman had graduated high school and could drive, but could not make financial decisions, consent to marriage, or attend to daily activities like bathing or dressing without support or reminders from her mother, according to a psychologist’s evaluation included in court records.

    Gariepy claimed to The Daily Beast the young woman had a communicative disorder, but that she could consent to having a child. “Her intelligence and her capacity for making decisions, it’s actually higher probably than the average 19-year-old woman,” he said.

    She “prefers to be on her own and spends a lot of time on the computer,” the psychologist wrote. She came across Gariepy while listening to his appearance on a podcast by the Drunken Peasants, the show where alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos infamously made comments appearing to defend pedophilia. In August or September 2015, when Gariepy was fighting issues of custody and immigration with his then-pregnant wife, he and the teenager began talking online. Gariepy claimed they later pledged loyalty to each other without having met.

    “We’ve been promising loyalty to each other since January 2016,” Gariepy testified in court, according to transcripts.

    On July 10, 2016, the teenager drove to North Carolina to meet Gariepy, she told the psychologist. She and Gariepy had sex—her first intimate experience. She claimed Gariepy wanted to impregnate her and be a “stay-at-home dad.” She told the psychologist that Gariepy was a YouTuber, and that, while she did not know if he made any money, he had promised to give her a cooking show.

    Within weeks, the young woman’s parents successfully applied for guardianship of her and brought her home to Texas. When she returned, she told her parents she was engaged to Gariepy and pregnant with his child, even though Gariepy was still married, and both urine and blood tests revealed the teenager was not pregnant.

    Her family’s lawyer described her as afraid of Gariepy, and upset upon her return home.

    Gariepy filed his own motion to block the family’s guardianship, claiming the young woman was not incapacitated and that they were legitimate domestic partners. “I’m her fiance and we were trying to make a baby. We have been living together for three weeks,” he testified in an August 2016 court appearance.

    At that time, Gariepy had not begun divorce proceedings with his wife, which the family’s lawyer speculated in August 2016 might be due to “Mr. Gariepy’s seeking status or the fact that he may or may not be here illegally.”

    The implication that Gariepy might have been in the country illegally appears to conflict with the views Gariepy champions online, where he calls for white-run states that could bar immigrants. The teenager he attempted to impregnate is Hispanic and was born in the U.S.

    According to his wife’s filings in the simultaneous custody case, Gariepy’s visa had been up for review beginning July 2016, the month the teenager drove to meet him in North Carolina.

    An appeals court denied Garipey’s attempt to block the teenager’s family’s guardianship.

    “The concern here with [the teenager] is that because of her autism spectrum disorder, someone can really take advantage of her because she cannot read social cues like most of us can,” a psychologist wrote in her opinion that the teenager’s parents should assume guardianship of her.

    “In the short amount of time they have been physically together, this man seems to be obsessed with wanting a child and is looking at having a child with someone who has difficulty even taking care of herself.”

    Throughout his interview with The Daily Beast, Gariepy characterized the legal system as antagonistic against him, despite having been the one to pursue the cases in appeals courts.

    “She got in this system and she somehow got convinced not to contact me anymore. Alright. That’s fine, I moved on with my life,” Gariepy said of the 19-year-old, whose guardianship he fought for even after she consented to her parents’ guardianship.

    He claimed the Duke undergraduate who described his alleged emotional abuse only did so after “discovering that I was a Trump supporter… She knew that by merely making the false allegations in court, the documents would get public, and eventually her false allegations against me would get on the internet.” (In fact, the undergraduate made her allegations to a private investigator, and the court documents would not have appeared on publicly available North Carolina court databases unless the case went to the state’s appellate court, which keeps digital records. The case only went to the appellate court because Gariepy appealed his wife’s full custody win.)

    Civil courts, he claimed, are being used to “harass men, to harass white, heterosexual males. Right now I’m currently being treated as a criminal by courts that don’t have the power to put me in jail, but they have the power to ruin my life,” he said of the court case which is currently ongoing because of his persistent appeal.

    “What you have, really, is a bunch of leftists who are organizing together, mostly leftist women, who are organizing together to smear a right-wing personality,” he said of his accusers and internet commenters who pointed out his court cases.

    He is still pursuing the custody case, although he has since moved back to Canada.

    “I decided to abandon voluntarily my permanent resident card because I currently have a girlfriend in Canada,” he said of his alleged permanent residency. “We’re having a baby, so this is where my family will be.”

    ———-

    “Alt-Right YouTuber Accused of Luring Autistic Teen in Pregnancy Plot” by Kelly Weill; The Daily Beast; 03/15/2018

    “Jean-Francois Gariepy is a fast-rising fixture in white-nationalist circles. A former neuroscience researcher at Duke University who left suddenly in 2015, Gariepy now makes videos attempting to prove white superiority, calling for all-white separatist states and a crackdown on immigration. White nationalist Richard Spencer recently appeared with him on a livestream.”

    As we can see, Gariepy, an advocate for all-white separatist states and a crackdown on immigration, appeared to be obsessed with impregnating an American before his work visa expired. In September of 2015, he announces on Facebook that he’s leaving Duke because he doesn’t like academia, but it turns out he was asked not to return to his postdoctoral position at Duke in part because of a sexually inappropriate relationship with an undergraduate lab assistant that took place in 2014. He was her mentor and supervisor at the time and wanted her to have his child. When she refused, he became abusive:


    Gariepy, 34, grew up in suburban Montreal, which he described to a court-appointed psychologist as “like paradise.” He said he spent his childhood surrounded by relatives in a village “dominated by our families.” “I didn’t know disharmony until I met other women at 18-19 [years old],” he said, according to the psychologist’s report included in his custody case against his third wife.

    He married his first wife at 18, and divorced at 23. “I wanted a family and she wasn’t into it,” he told the court-appointed psychologist. “She left—she lost interest in me. Also I didn’t know how to satisfy a woman and I was getting fat.” A second marriage, which he claimed was to a woman who was French and “needed to get into Canada,” also failed, he told the psychologist.

    He later left Canada to take a series of research positions at U.S. colleges before settling into an associate research role in Duke’s neuroscience department in September 2011, as the university confirmed to The Daily Beast. In a viral Facebook post in September 2015, Gariepy announced he’d quit Duke because he’d grown disillusioned with the academic community. The post earned him a write-up in Slate.

    But Gariepy’s motives for quitting came into question during the custody dispute. After Gariepy’s viral Facebook post, one of his former Duke colleagues contacted his third wife, whom he had married earlier that year. The former colleague “contacted her after the Facebook posting, [and said] that Dr. Gariepy was not asked to return to his postdoctoral position and that he had a sexually inappropriate relationship with one of the undergraduate lab assistants,” according to court records filed on Gariepy’s wife’s behalf.

    The undergraduate student confirmed the relationship to a private investigator hired by Gariepy’s wife, according to court documents. While they were in a relationship, she told the investigator, Gariepy was her mentor or supervisor at their lab. During their relationship from January until June 2014, Gariepy wanted her to have his child, she told the investigator, according to a sworn affidavit he entered in court. Gariepy “discussed how he would be a stay-at-home father and provide the child all the caring needs for the child,” according to the investigator’s affidavit.

    The undergraduate lab assistant told the investigator that she decided against Gariepy’s plan, and that the relationship ended with her “suffering from emotional abuse on the part of” Gariepy.

    Gariepy told The Daily Beast that their relationship had been consensual, and that the student had disclosed it to Duke University. “There has never been an investigation against me at Duke for being in a relationship with this woman,” he said.

    And then there’s all of the information about Gariepy’s obsession with his immigration status that came out during the various interviews related to his third wife. There’s the interviews with a court-appointed psychologist where Gariepy explained that his relationship with his third wife went fast because she was older than him and —I’m an immigrant. It was all or nothing—marriage and a baby or I couldn’t stay in the U.S.”:


    Gariepy’s viral Facebook post cited another reason for quitting: “I will soon be a father and want to be spending time with my son at home.”

    But that cozy claim was also up for debate. Gariepy and his third wife had separated two months earlier, in July, after fewer than six months of marriage. In a custody case that began the day after their son’s December 2015 birth, Gariepy’s third wife accused him of emotional abuse throughout the pregnancy, and of threatening to abduct their child to his native Canada.

    Both Gariepy’s wife and the court expressed concern over Gariepy’s immigration status.

    “The defendant is a citizen of Canada and currently in the United States under a conditional visa based upon his marriage to the plaintiff,” his wife claimed in court documents. “Said visa is conditional and up for review by U.S. Immigration in July 2016.” In a finding of facts in November 2016, the court wrote that the visa was pending review.

    Gariepy contradicted the court’s finding to The Daily Beast, claiming he had a green card through his new marriage, but that he’s since abandoned it to move back to Canada. “The reality is once I married my ex-wife I was a permanent resident,” he said, claiming he could have become a citizen.

    A green card, or permanent residency, is not immediately conferred upon an immigrant who marries a U.S. citizen. The process requires an application, which includes an in-person interview with both partners. If the green card is approved, and the marriage is less than two years old, the immigrant receives a “conditional” green card, which expires in two years unless both couples reapply, or the couple married “in good faith” but later divorced.

    In a February 2016 finding of facts, the court specifically noted that Gariepy’s visa was pending review “to assure that his marriage isn’t fraudulent.” Gariepy also told The Daily Beast that, prior to his marriage, he had been on a “J-1 visiting scholar visa. I did five years on that.” J-1 visas are short-term and tied to a recipient’s work. After a J-1 recipient completes their program, they must leave the country or obtain another form of documentation.

    In an interview with a court-appointed psychologist, Gariepy also claimed to have pursued marriage and a child for immigration purposes. The relationship “was fast because of her age—she’s older than me,” Gariepy said, according to the psychologist’s report included in court documents. “Other pressures—I’m an immigrant. It was all or nothing—marriage and a baby or I couldn’t stay in the U.S.”

    Gariepy claimed the statements were taken out of context. “I explained that to my ex-wife, either you are interested in me and having a family with me or the U.S. will kick me out after my legal five years of residence,” he told The Daily Beast. “That was merely me explaining to my ex-wife this reality.”

    Gariepy’s third wife also claims that when she moved out of their apartment in the middle of 2015, five months after their marriage, he began demanding that she put his name on the lease for immigration purposes and help him apply for a green card. She agreed to attend an immigration interview for the green card, but only if he would sign separation papers. After the interview he refused to sign the papers:


    Shortly into the pregnancy, the relationship grew volatile, both parties agreed. Gariepy claimed in court records that his wife grew “very aggressive—she wasn’t interested in me anymore.” But his wife alleged a pattern of increasingly strange behaviors. Gariepy started making audio recordings of her to “build a case” and posting them to a family planning website, she said in court documents. She claimed Gariepy became controlling, and refused to talk to a therapist, allegedly telling her, “I am the sanest person I know.”

    Five months after their marriage, Gariepy’s wife moved out of their apartment—at which point, she claimed, he began demanding that she put his name on the lease for immigration purposes, and help him apply for a green card. She claimed she agreed to attend an interview, if he would sign separation documents. During the interview, an immigrations officer questioned her separately and asked if Gariepy was pressuring her into a green card, she claimed. She said she told the officer it was important for Gariepy to remain in the country for their child’s sake. But after the interview, she claimed, Gariepy refused to sign the separation documents.

    After moving out, she claimed a neighbor called her to report that police were removing weapons from the couple’s formerly shared apartment. Gariepy later told her in an email that he had asked the sheriff’s department to remove the weapons because he did not “want anyone to feel unsafe or to make false accusations about abuse,” his wife said he wrote. Police were so alarmed by Gariepy’s request to remove the weapons, that an officer with the domestic-violence unit called his wife to ask about her safety, she claimed.

    Then, months before the child was born in December of 2015, Gariepy apparently tried to get his wife to go on the Dr. Phil show to “publicly address the campaign of false allegations against him”. Following the birth of the child the wife was awarded full custody, which Gariepy appealed:


    But the couple’s biggest fights were over the fate of their unborn child. Gariepy said he could deliver the child at home and raise it because of his experience working with monkeys in research labs, his wife claimed in court documents. He also allegedly pressured his wife to give the child a Canadian passport, and threatened to take the child away to Canada. When the couple’s relationship soured further, Gariepy wrote on medical intake forms that he would not comply with doctors’ orders “that would keep [him] from transporting my child to my home,” his wife claimed. He then allegedly visited multiple local OBGYN practices and accused them of discrimination when they would not treat him, going so far as to threaten a lawsuit against Duke hospital.

    Gariepy claimed in court documents that he was trying to meet with an OBGYN for information on a sleep aid he claimed his wife was using.

    The month before the child’s birth, a producer with the Dr. Phil show contacted Gariepy’s wife’s lawyer twice, she claimed. Gariepy had allegedly asked to be on the show to “publicly address the campaign of false allegations against him.”

    Following the advice of police and hospital security, Gariepy’s wife gave birth under an alias in an undisclosed hospital, and filed for custody the day after the child’s birth, she claimed. A judge awarded her full custody, which Gariepy appealed. In proceeding with the appeal, the judge recommended Gariepy undergo a psychological evaluation.

    The psychologist found Gariepy to be “very bright, intellectually,” but said he showed a lack of insight and impulse control, a “sense of being treated unfairly, or victimized,” and displayed distorted thoughts suggesting “overt psychosis.”

    Around this same time, in August or September of 2015, Gariepy meets 19 year old autistic Hispanic woman online after she hears him on the Drunken Peasants podcast. They pledge loyalty to each other by January of 2016, before ever meeting. She drives out to meet him in July of 2016. Her parents manage to get guardianship over her. Upon returning home, she explains that she and Gariepy are engaged and she’s pregnant, although she’s not actually pregnant. But getting her pregnant was clearly Garipey’s intent:


    But while Gariepy was fighting his wife for custody, he was also courting a 19-year-old with autism. The teenager, who lived in Texas, had “the social and mental maturity of a 10 or 11-year-old child,” according to a counselor’s assessment included in court records.

    People with autism spectrum disorder might experience difficulty with communication or interpersonal relationships, although symptoms vary broadly. The young woman had graduated high school and could drive, but could not make financial decisions, consent to marriage, or attend to daily activities like bathing or dressing without support or reminders from her mother, according to a psychologist’s evaluation included in court records.

    Gariepy claimed to The Daily Beast the young woman had a communicative disorder, but that she could consent to having a child. “Her intelligence and her capacity for making decisions, it’s actually higher probably than the average 19-year-old woman,” he said.

    She “prefers to be on her own and spends a lot of time on the computer,” the psychologist wrote. She came across Gariepy while listening to his appearance on a podcast by the Drunken Peasants, the show where alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos infamously made comments appearing to defend pedophilia. In August or September 2015, when Gariepy was fighting issues of custody and immigration with his then-pregnant wife, he and the teenager began talking online. Gariepy claimed they later pledged loyalty to each other without having met.

    “We’ve been promising loyalty to each other since January 2016,” Gariepy testified in court, according to transcripts.

    On July 10, 2016, the teenager drove to North Carolina to meet Gariepy, she told the psychologist. She and Gariepy had sex—her first intimate experience. She claimed Gariepy wanted to impregnate her and be a “stay-at-home dad.” She told the psychologist that Gariepy was a YouTuber, and that, while she did not know if he made any money, he had promised to give her a cooking show.

    Within weeks, the young woman’s parents successfully applied for guardianship of her and brought her home to Texas. When she returned, she told her parents she was engaged to Gariepy and pregnant with his child, even though Gariepy was still married, and both urine and blood tests revealed the teenager was not pregnant.

    Gariepy filed his own motion to block the family’s guardianship, claiming the young woman was not incapacitated and that they were legitimate domestic partners. “I’m her fiance and we were trying to make a baby. We have been living together for three weeks,” he testified in an August 2016 court appearance.

    At the same time Gariepy was appealing the guardianship ruling awarded to the parents of this autistic woman, he had still not yet begun divorce proceedings with his wife. This led to speculation by his wife’s lawyer that Gariepy might actually be in the US illegally, making his need to find an American wife more urgent:


    At that time, Gariepy had not begun divorce proceedings with his wife, which the family’s lawyer speculated in August 2016 might be due to “Mr. Gariepy’s seeking status or the fact that he may or may not be here illegally.”

    The implication that Gariepy might have been in the country illegally appears to conflict with the views Gariepy champions online, where he calls for white-run states that could bar immigrants. The teenager he attempted to impregnate is Hispanic and was born in the U.S.

    According to his wife’s filings in the simultaneous custody case, Gariepy’s visa had been up for review beginning July 2016, the month the teenager drove to meet him in North Carolina.

    An appeals court denied Garipey’s attempt to block the teenager’s family’s guardianship.

    “The concern here with [the teenager] is that because of her autism spectrum disorder, someone can really take advantage of her because she cannot read social cues like most of us can,” a psychologist wrote in her opinion that the teenager’s parents should assume guardianship of her.

    “In the short amount of time they have been physically together, this man seems to be obsessed with wanting a child and is looking at having a child with someone who has difficulty even taking care of herself.”

    But Gariepy asserts that all of this is part of a smear attempt against him by liberal women because he’s a Trump supporter and the civil courts are set up to harass white, heterosexual males:


    He claimed the Duke undergraduate who described his alleged emotional abuse only did so after “discovering that I was a Trump supporter… She knew that by merely making the false allegations in court, the documents would get public, and eventually her false allegations against me would get on the internet.” (In fact, the undergraduate made her allegations to a private investigator, and the court documents would not have appeared on publicly available North Carolina court databases unless the case went to the state’s appellate court, which keeps digital records. The case only went to the appellate court because Gariepy appealed his wife’s full custody win.)

    Civil courts, he claimed, are being used to “harass men, to harass white, heterosexual males. Right now I’m currently being treated as a criminal by courts that don’t have the power to put me in jail, but they have the power to ruin my life,” he said of the court case which is currently ongoing because of his persistent appeal.

    “What you have, really, is a bunch of leftists who are organizing together, mostly leftist women, who are organizing together to smear a right-wing personality,” he said of his accusers and internet commenters who pointed out his court cases.

    He is still pursuing the custody case, although he has since moved back to Canada.

    “I decided to abandon voluntarily my permanent resident card because I currently have a girlfriend in Canada,” he said of his alleged permanent residency. “We’re having a baby, so this is where my family will be.”

    And finally, it’s worth noting one of the advantages Gariepy sees in living in a white ethnostate: none of your public statements could be used against you in a custody battle:


    The appeal is ongoing. Since the child’s birth, Gariepy has railed against his wife in YouTube videos, which are now included in the court record. When someone disliked one of the videos, Gariepy posted a link to it, ordering his fans “to find the person who disliked the video and make his/her life more burdensome by reminding him politely how terrible of a human being he/she is,” court records note.

    Gariepy told The Daily Beast he was joking. “I do dark humor, and, yes, some of that dark humor was brought into the custody trial, as if the fact that I do jokes on the public space about race or rape would make me an unfit father,” he said. In one of his 2017 videos, Gariepy claimed courts should not be able to use a person’s public statements against them in a custody battle and that “that is a problem a white ethnostate could solve.”

    On the plus side, it was kind of nice hear about this white supremacist being willing to have a child with a Hispanic woman. At least, it would have been nice if he wasn’t completely taking advantage of her in a predatory manner.

    And that’s sordid and sad tale of a Jean-Francois Gariepy, a white supremacist immigrant looking to impregnate pretty much any woman he can find for immigration purposes. So the next time you hear an Alt Right figure recounting some sort of anecdote about dangerous non-white immigrants destroying America keep in mind the immigration story of YouTube white supremacist star Jean-Francois Gariepy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 4, 2019, 4:14 pm
  16. Now that the redacted Mueller report is released and we at least have a pretty good idea of its contents, one of the more grimly interesting questions raised by the release of the report is what on earth is going to happen to the whole “QAnon” conspiracy movement. Recall how QAnon is the far right conspiracy theory about the Mueller investigation that’s bizarre even by the standards of far right conspiracy theories. QAnon followers believe that Robert Mueller and Trump were actually secretly working together in order to investigate an elite global Satanic pedophile ring that runs the world, so it’s basically a rehashing of ‘Illuminati’ conspiracy theories but with the twist that Trump and Mueller are about to take down the Illuminati and carry out mass arrests of figures like Hillary Clinton. All of the elite pedophiles will be sent to Guantanamo Bay after the sudden mass arrests. That’s seriously the theory and it’s become wildly popular with President Trump’s base, manifesting at Trump rallies with audiences filled with people wearing “Q” shirts and holding “Q” related signs. “Q” billboards have even popped up in some place. It’s also become a major topic of videos on YouTube, in part because YouTube’s algorithms were actually recommending QAnon videos to people.

    And while the QAnon cultists have proven remarkably faithful to the theory, which emerged on an 8Chan troll forum, despite being repeatedly let down by the predictions of “Q”, the anonymous online persona who who claims to be deep in the government and leaking clues to the public about the secret Trump/Mueller plot, it remains very unclear as to how the movement is going to hold together following the release of a Mueller report that says nothing about the “Q” plot.

    The question of what’s going to become of QAnon in the post-Mueller Report era isn’t just an interesting question about a bizarre sociological phenomena that’s symptomatic of the intellectual decline of the American right. Don’t forget that QAnon has been like a magnet for some of the most unhinged and potentially violent people in the US. Recall how Forrest Gordon Clark, the Sovereign Citizen accused of intentionally starting a massive Southern California foreign fire last year, was a QAnon follower. Liz Crokin, a prominent far right YouTube personality and QAnon cheerleader, has been telling her audiences that she is 100 percent certain that US law enforcement is in possession of videos of Hillary Clinton sexually abusing a child and then cutting off and eating their face during a Satanic ritual. And in June of 2018, a man blocked off a bridge at the Hoover Dam with an armored truck while posting videos demanding that the government release an Inspector General report about Hillary Clinton’s email probe because the man was convinced that the report would expose the “deep state” pedophile ring.

    So how are these kinds of QAnon supporters going react to a Mueller report that contains nothing about “Q” at all? Will they keep the faith? Might they get violent? And how are they going to react given the abundant winking & nodding the Trump team has been sending towards QAnon? Because as the following article from several weeks ago makes clear, the initial 4 page summary of Mueller report that was initially released by Attorney General Bill Barr that appeared to exonerate Trump had QAnon followers extremely excited to see the full report. A full report that they were now convinced would finally reveal that QAnon was right all along and the mass arrests are coming:

    Daily Dot

    Trump’s Michigan rally breathed new life into the QAnon conspiracy

    Mike Rothschild—
    Mar 29, 2019 at 10:50AM

    President Donald Trump’s rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan last night saw the vocal return of a contingent of Trump fans who hadn’t had much outward presence at recent rallies: QAnon believers..

    QAnon is the ever-changing conspiracy theory that sees Trump at the center of a secret effort to root out deep state saboteurs, pedophiles, and anti-Trump elements supposedly at the heart of the government. And the only reason we’ve been let in on this secret war between good and evil is because of the efforts of a military intelligence insider called “Q” who feeds cryptic intelligence and hints of things to come to the message board 8chan.

    Like any good sports fan, QAnon believers show their allegiance through purchases: T-shirts, hats, pins, signs, and books. And in August, when they showed up to Trump’s rally in Tampa wearing their Q gear, the world finally took notice of the conspiracy theory that had been steadily growing for a year—and whose rhetoric was getting more violent.

    The Secret Service responded by allegedly not allowing Q gear to be worn into subsequent rallies, though in keeping with their silence about presidential protection, the agency never made an actual announcement.

    Whether the ban was formal or informal (the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to requests for comment), it appeared to no longer be in force. QAnon followers showed up in full splendor, posing in t-shirts, hats, pins, badges, and with signs.

    #DoitQ #Qanon #Q Grand Rapids loves Q!!! @realDonaldTrump @POTUS @TrueEyeTheSpy @SecPompeo @seanhannity @TuckerCarlson @charliekirk11 @Cordicon @StormIsUponUs @beer_parade @qanon76 @ffe3301 @RealCandaceO @GenFlynn @BarbaraRedgate @DonaldJTrumpJr pic.twitter.com/PxvREDzIcB— Donna ?????? (@truthseekerd) March 28, 2019

    Made it to the rally #MAGA #QAnon #WWG1WGA #GrandRapids pic.twitter.com/qVnldJMNH1— Northern girl (@barch_anne) March 28, 2019

    I just walked the entire line holding up this sign, full length uncut video upload late tonight or early tomorrow. Took over 20 minutes!!! Lots of noise!!! #WWG1WGA #QAnon #Qarmy #TrumpRally pic.twitter.com/xcCoAtShbm— Quirky (@QuirkyFollowsQ) March 28, 2019

    One of the Q poster’s favorite techniques to keep the faithful happy while his predictions fail to come true is shouting out their tweets in his 8chan drops. With the Grand Rapids rally, Q made a concerted effort to single out and applaud the merch-wearing of a number of attendees.

    To Q believers, almost nothing means more than being “Q-ed” on Twitter by QAnon. And Q gave dozens of followers the ultimate sign of his approval, like a digital laying on of hands by a guru or a knowing nod from the Pope.

    Starting hours before the rally, Q began posting random tweets featuring Q believers decked out for the big rally, and thanking them for being “VIP patriots.” The glorifying went on for hours, with Q making over 40 drops spotlighting pictures of rally attendees, rally watchers, and even just people flying American flags.

    More shoutouts from QAnon to "VIP's" at the Trump rally in Grand Rapids tonight. Feels like we could be in for a repeat of the Tampa rally where Q went mainstream. Let's hope not. pic.twitter.com/jqBkkhaH8n— Mike Rothschild (@rothschildmd) March 28, 2019

    Their patriotism was complimented, and their efforts were seen. Each tweet flagged, in turn, drew hundreds or even thousands of responses from other Q supporters on Twitter, which is almost always the case when Q spotlights a tweet.

    The effect was an undeniable frenzy of excitement both in the arena and online. Spotlighted tweets were getting thousands of shares, and provoking positive comments all over the Q social media sphere, like a religious revival where most of the attendees aren’t actually in the room.

    It was also apparent outside the rally, where a video popped up of someone going down the waiting line with a sign reading “Make Noise 4 Q” and people shouting Q slogans.

    I've been covering Qanon for a year, and the amount of pro-Q people in this video from yesterday's Trump rally line in Grand Rapids is absolutely shocking. This is just a portion of it. pic.twitter.com/hTDGEnPsEi— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) March 29, 2019

    There was even a burgeoning conspiracy theory that started during the run-up to the rally–that a “fake MAGA” had infiltrated the crowd in the guise of a newly awakened Q believer, and was planning to do harm to the president. How did Q followers know? He was wearing an “antifa button” declaring “punch your local Nazi.”

    Such conspiracy theories within conspiracy theories are common in QAnon, where believers have concocted a number of deep state assassination attempts based on thin strands of evidence. Likewise, there’s no evidence that this person was anything other than a person who both follows Q and doesn’t like Nazis

    . But even just the hint of something amiss was enough to set off alarm bells. After being “Q-ed” and “exposed,” the nascent patriot tweeted that he’d compiled and taken off his anti-Nazi button.

    Wasn’t aware it was an antifa Branded pin. It has been removed. Horned Hillary hat remains.— Underculture (@Underculture1) March 28, 2019

    With the frenzy of Q drops and gear, the stage was all set for Trump to make a direct, vocal mention of QAnon—a vindication of the conspiracy theory that would have a dramatic effect on its trajectory.

    That didn’t happen. Trump has never spoken of Q before, and none of his allies in the media have ever asked him about it. It’s not even clear if Trump knows what QAnon is, or that it exists. But he did throw out just enough indirect mentions to keep the amped-up faithful believing.

    For one thing, Trump used the phrase “these people are sick” to refer to Democrats continuing to push for the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report. But while Q uses the phrase often, its place in Trump’s lexicon dates back to at least 2016, and is a case of Q picking up something Trump already does and claiming it’s the opposite.

    “These people are sick.” Trump at RallyQ Crowd cheers??????— Ellie Brown ??????The #SayIt Grandma (@Real_EllieBrown) March 28, 2019

    The president also made a cryptic reference to “fighting for our lives,” which Q researchers took for a reference to supposed grand plans of the deep state to depopulate and cull the earth—a touchstone of the conspiracy community for decades. He also made a quip about Democrats being on “artificial respirators,” seen as a nod to the conspiracy theories regarding Ruth Bader Ginsburg possibly being kept alive mechanically.

    Sadly for the faithful, none of these were a direct mention or acknowledgment. The closest Trump actually came was his tweet featuring pictures of the rally, the last of which features a solitary “Q” sign.

    MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! https://t.co/Y6UPREMY7u pic.twitter.com/6r7wdYDf66— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019

    That nod was enough for some.

    ———-

    “Trump’s Michigan rally breathed new life into the QAnon conspiracy” by Mike Rothschild; Daily Dot; 03/29/2019

    “Like any good sports fan, QAnon believers show their allegiance through purchases: T-shirts, hats, pins, signs, and books. And in August, when they showed up to Trump’s rally in Tampa wearing their Q gear, the world finally took notice of the conspiracy theory that had been steadily growing for a year—and whose rhetoric was getting more violent.”

    Yep, QAnon has become so prominent a feature of Trump rallies over the least year that it became impossible for the rest of the world to ignore it. Every time Trump held a rally the crowd was filled with Q shirts and signs. The Secret Service started banning Q gear at the rallies but that ban has apparently ended:


    The Secret Service responded by allegedly not allowing Q gear to be worn into subsequent rallies, though in keeping with their silence about presidential protection, the agency never made an actual announcement.

    Whether the ban was formal or informal (the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to requests for comment), it appeared to no longer be in force. QAnon followers showed up in full splendor, posing in t-shirts, hats, pins, badges, and with signs.

    Recall that Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas, in February also feature Q gear prominently so the Secret Service ban was clearly no longer in place by that point.

    It’s also rather noteworthy that the QAnon followers appear to view buttons with slogans like “punch your local Nazi” as a threat towards them and a threat towards Trump:


    There was even a burgeoning conspiracy theory that started during the run-up to the rally–that a “fake MAGA” had infiltrated the crowd in the guise of a newly awakened Q believer, and was planning to do harm to the president. How did Q followers know? He was wearing an “antifa button” declaring “punch your local Nazi.”

    Such conspiracy theories within conspiracy theories are common in QAnon, where believers have concocted a number of deep state assassination attempts based on thin strands of evidence. Likewise, there’s no evidence that this person was anything other than a person who both follows Q and doesn’t like Nazis

    . But even just the hint of something amiss was enough to set off alarm bells. After being “Q-ed” and “exposed,” the nascent patriot tweeted that he’d compiled and taken off his anti-Nazi button.

    And while Trump didn’t overtly talk about QAnon at the rally like they were no doubt hoping he would do, he did manage to wink & nod at that with various Q-themes turns of phrase. Or at least that’s what the QAnon people convinced themselves Trump was doing:


    With the frenzy of Q drops and gear, the stage was all set for Trump to make a direct, vocal mention of QAnon—a vindication of the conspiracy theory that would have a dramatic effect on its trajectory.

    That didn’t happen. Trump has never spoken of Q before, and none of his allies in the media have ever asked him about it. It’s not even clear if Trump knows what QAnon is, or that it exists. But he did throw out just enough indirect mentions to keep the amped-up faithful believing.

    For one thing, Trump used the phrase “these people are sick” to refer to Democrats continuing to push for the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report. But while Q uses the phrase often, its place in Trump’s lexicon dates back to at least 2016, and is a case of Q picking up something Trump already does and claiming it’s the opposite.

    The president also made a cryptic reference to “fighting for our lives,” which Q researchers took for a reference to supposed grand plans of the deep state to depopulate and cull the earth—a touchstone of the conspiracy community for decades. He also made a quip about Democrats being on “artificial respirators,” seen as a nod to the conspiracy theories regarding Ruth Bader Ginsburg possibly being kept alive mechanically.

    Also keep in mind that it has to be a virtual certainty that Trump is aware of the QAnon movement. Not only do they show up at his rallies with Q shirts and signs but it’s a cult that literally worships him. There’s no way Trump isn’t fully aware of this. Of course, given that it’s a cult that also believed he was secretly in cahoots with Mueller there was never an easy way to Trump to actually acknowledge and interact with this Trump-worshipping cult. And that’s part of what so fascinating about this phenomena: it’s a Trump-worshipping cult that Trump can’t really acknowledge because he can’t possibly live up to their expectations. That’s got to be kind of frustrating for Trump. But not as frustrating as the eventual release of the Mueller report must have been for all those QAnon supporters:

    The Daily Beast

    QAnon Believers Crushed After Mueller Report Fails to Lead to Hillary Clinton’s Arrest
    QAnon fans thought special counsel would take down the Democrats. Instead, Sebastian Gorka made fun of them.

    Will Sommer
    04.18.19 3:30 PM ET

    While most of Donald Trump’s allies braced for the release on Thursday of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, believers in the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory approached the long-awaited publication with a sense of thrill.

    For years, QAnon fans have been mocked for believing that Mueller was secretly in league with the president, working hand-in-hand to uncover Satanic rituals committed by top Democrats before shipping them off to Guantanamo Bay. They had been told it was ridiculous to base their entire political worldview on a series of anonymous clues posted on internet message boards—including one that claimed Hillary Clinton was secretly arrested in October 2017.

    Now, after all the chanting and waving of “Q” signs at Trump rallies, their hour of vindication was at hand.

    Liz Crokin, a leading QAnon promoter, predicted on Wednesday that Mueller’s report would uncover leading Democrats committing crimes that are “punishable by death.”

    “I think the Mueller Report will reveal some indicators that the real crimes that took places were committed by Hillary Clinton, Obama, and some of their associates,” Crokin told The Daily Beast.

    Crokin wasn’t alone. “Patriots’ Soapbox,” a 24-hour YouTube livestream devoted to decoding QAnon clues, urged viewers to check back Thursday for a “BIG day.” Joe Masepoes, a QAnon promoter whose pro-QAnon videos have been shared by celebrities like former baseball star Curt Schilling, urged his followers to “be here tomorrow.”

    Be Here Tomorrow. The Story Unfolds. Q— Joe M (@StormIsUponUs) April 17, 2019

    But when the Mueller report arrived on Thursday morning, it contained none of the bombshell, global pedophile cabal-destroying revelations QAnon fans had predicted. Instead, it detailed a Russian campaign of electoral subterfuge that benefited Trump’s election efforts, along with repeated attempts by the president to impede investigations into his conduct.

    Unhappy QAnon believers were left to grapple with the letdown. As the report’s lack of QAnon proofs became clear, the Patriots’ Soapbox livestream quickly moved onto other topics like human trafficking. The channel’s viewers weren’t fooled, though. The comment section quickly filled up with disappointed QAnon fans.

    On Voat, a Reddit-style forum alternative popular with QAnon fans, believers lamented the fact that they had been duped again.

    “Trump is toast,” said one poster who said he wouldn’t vote in 2020 after the disappointment. “Lied to us to extend his re-election. Good luck Q peeps. I’m done here.”

    This isn’t the first time QAnon loyalists have been promised confirmation of their bizarre ideas, only to be disappointed. In June 2018, “Q”—the anonymous person or group of people behind the vague clues that have been strung into QAnon—had promised that a Department of Justice inspector general report would bring down Clinton.

    That report didn’t include the revelations QAnon believers were promised either. One angry, armed QAnon believer responded to that let-down by shutting down a bridge near the Hoover Dam with an improvised armored truck.

    ———-

    “QAnon Believers Crushed After Mueller Report Fails to Lead to Hillary Clinton’s Arrest” by Will Sommer; The Daily Beast; 04/18/2019

    “Now, after all the chanting and waving of “Q” signs at Trump rallies, their hour of vindication was at hand.”

    The hour of vindication was at hand. Finally, the true nature of the Mueller report was going to be revealed and the Satanic pedophile ring secretly running the world would be going down. As Liz Crokin, the same person who told her audiences that law enforcement had videos of Hillary Clinton eating a child’s face, predicted, the report would uncover crimes by the Democrats that are “punishable by death”. And she was just one of the Q-pushers maintaining this line:


    Liz Crokin, a leading QAnon promoter, predicted on Wednesday that Mueller’s report would uncover leading Democrats committing crimes that are “punishable by death.”

    “I think the Mueller Report will reveal some indicators that the real crimes that took places were committed by Hillary Clinton, Obama, and some of their associates,” Crokin told The Daily Beast.

    Crokin wasn’t alone. “Patriots’ Soapbox,” a 24-hour YouTube livestream devoted to decoding QAnon clues, urged viewers to check back Thursday for a “BIG day.” Joe Masepoes, a QAnon promoter whose pro-QAnon videos have been shared by celebrities like former baseball star Curt Schilling, urged his followers to “be here tomorrow.”

    And then the big let down arrived, leading to a wave of believers who were suddenly ex-believers who felt deceived and in some cases felt anger at Trump:


    But when the Mueller report arrived on Thursday morning, it contained none of the bombshell, global pedophile cabal-destroying revelations QAnon fans had predicted. Instead, it detailed a Russian campaign of electoral subterfuge that benefited Trump’s election efforts, along with repeated attempts by the president to impede investigations into his conduct.

    Unhappy QAnon believers were left to grapple with the letdown. As the report’s lack of QAnon proofs became clear, the Patriots’ Soapbox livestream quickly moved onto other topics like human trafficking. The channel’s viewers weren’t fooled, though. The comment section quickly filled up with disappointed QAnon fans.

    On Voat, a Reddit-style forum alternative popular with QAnon fans, believers lamented the fact that they had been duped again.

    “Trump is toast,” said one poster who said he wouldn’t vote in 2020 after the disappointment. “Lied to us to extend his re-election. Good luck Q peeps. I’m done here.”

    Yes, even the QAnon cultists are losing the faith, which isn’t surprising at this point in the Q hoax. As long as the Mueller report was yet to be released it was always possible to assure the true believers that they’ll eventually be vindicated. But that’s not really possible anymore. Unlike you’re typical doomsday prophets who convince their followers that the world will end on given date, only to ‘discover’ that the world will actually end at a later day, there aren’t going to be any future Mueller reports. This is it.

    And that all raises questions about what these wayward ex-Q followers are going to gravitate towards next? Will they remain Trump cultists? Will they become even more radicalized with something new that comes along? And critically, will they blame Trump for this giant deception? That’s part of what makes the winking & nodding to the QAnon folks that Trump and his administration were engaged in this whole time so interesting: it wasn’t just the “Q” hoaxers stringing these people along. Those Trump rallies effectively became ‘coming out’ parties for QAnon supporters, where people wearing Q gear and signs were given prominent locations at Trump rallies that guaranteed they would show up on TV. They really were toyed with by the Team Trump and that’s got to sting.

    Sure, Trump lies and gets caught lying all the time. But most of those are lies about things his supports don’t really care about. But in this case we appear to have stumbled across one of the few instances where Trump (or Trump proxies) are caught in a massive lie directed at their supporters about something these supporters care deeply about and now they are forced to confront it. And these were some of Trump’s most fervent supporters who got behind this whole thing. So this is almost uncharted territory for Trump at this point. Will a loss of faith in “Q” translate into a loss of faith in Trump? In some cases that will probably happen, but as whole QAnon phenomena reminds us, when you’re wishing for the seemingly impossible to happen don’t get your hopes up too much.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 19, 2019, 1:06 pm

Post a comment