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.)

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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

26 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
  17. Here’s a pair of arti­cles that pro­vide a good exam­ple of how the far right main­streams itself in the US media and pol­i­tics. The first arti­cle is about the dis­cov­ery that an author who has writ­ten a num­ber of opin­ion pieces that appeared in the Wall Street Jour­nal, the Hill, Forbes, US News and World Report, and the Nation­al Review over the past cou­ple of years. The author was secret­ly the well-known white nation­al­ist Mar­cus Epstein writ­ing these piece under the bare­ly veiled pen name of “Mark Epstein”. Epstein, who him­self is part Jew­ish and Asian, was a key white nation­al­ist orga­niz­er activist in the mid-2000’s and 2010s.

    In 2006, Epstein was work­ing for the right-wing “Lead­er­ship Insti­tute”, which has a list of alums that includes Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, and Ralph Reed. He then went on to work for Pat Buchanan’s Amer­i­can Cause group and helped co-found the far right Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion that ded­i­cat­ed itself to “defend­ing the West on cam­pus.” He went on to work for Con­gress­man Tom Tan­cre­do, who was known for his anti-immi­grant posi­tions. Epstein was seen as a ris­ing con­ser­v­a­tive leader at that time despite the fact that he wrote arti­cles for the open­ly white nation­al­ist VDare.com web­site. He also helped found­ed the now-defunct Robert A. Taft Club along­side Richard Spencer and white nation­al­ist Kevin DeAn­na in 2006, which host­ed a 2006 “Con­ser­vatism and Race” con­fer­ence that invit­ed promi­nent racist speak­ers like Jared Tay­lor. Then, in 2009, Epstein’s rep­u­ta­tion and career took a hit after he was sued over 2007 inci­dent when he struck a black women in the face and called her “nig­ger” dur­ing a night of drunk­en bar-hop­ping. So Epstein was basi­cal­ly an open racist for years, but it was­n’t his vio­lent assault because pub­lic that his stand­ing as a ris­ing young con­ser­v­a­tive leader was tar­nished.

    Also recall that when DHS employ­ee Ian M. Smith was found to be a secret col­league of lead­ing white nation­al­ist fig­ures like Richard Spencer. In June of 2016, emails show that Epstein reached out to Smith and a num­ber of oth­er white nation­al­ists to invite them to an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” event. So Epstein is still a very active indi­vid­ual in the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazi scene. And now we’re learn­ing that he’s also been writ­ing opin­ion pieces under a pen names that’s basi­cal­ly his own name. But those opin­ions pieces have lit­tle to do with race immi­gra­tion. Instead, Epstein’s opin­ion pieces have been focused on the poten­tial abus­es of Big Tech. Specif­i­cal­ly, the Big Tech and free speech issues which is, of course, one of the key ral­ly­ing cries issues for the right-wing these days after a num­ber of (large­ly super­fi­cial) purges of ‘Alt Right’ fig­ures from var­i­ous social media plat­forms. It’s been a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for the far right to do what it does best: play­ing the role of vic­tim. So Mar­cus Epstein, a well known white nation­al­ist leader, has been writ­ing opin­ion pieces in numer­ous main­stream pub­li­ca­tions about one of the key right-wing vic­tim­hood issues of the day under the sneaky pen name of “Mark Epstein”:

    Buz­zFeed News

    A For­mer Repub­li­can Oper­a­tive With Ties To White Nation­al­ists Has Been Pub­lish­ing Opin­ion Pieces In The Wall Street Jour­nal

    Mar­cus Epstein, a for­mer asso­ciate of Richard Spencer and a for­mer con­trib­u­tor to white nation­al­ist site VDare, has writ­ten for the Wall Street Jour­nal, the Hill, and Forbes under a thin­ly veiled pen name.

    Ryan Mac Buz­zFeed News Reporter
    Joseph Bern­stein Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Post­ed on June 18, 2019, at 6:36 p.m. ET

    A for­mer Repub­li­can oper­a­tive noto­ri­ous for his con­nec­tions to white nation­al­ists has estab­lished him­self as an opin­ion con­trib­u­tor for sev­er­al nation­al pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing the Wall Street Jour­nal, while writ­ing under a thin­ly veiled pen name, Buz­zFeed News has learned.

    Mar­cus Epstein, who worked for for­mer Col­orado con­gress­man Tom Tan­cre­do and found­ed a nativist polit­i­cal club with white nation­al­ist Richard Spencer, has writ­ten more than a dozen opin­ion pieces for the Jour­nal, the Hill, Forbes, US News and World Report, and the Nation­al Review over the past two years. His pieces, which main­ly focus on the reg­u­la­tion of the tech­nol­o­gy indus­try, were pub­lished under the byline “Mark Epstein.”

    In six dif­fer­ent pieces for the Jour­nal, Epstein is iden­ti­fied as an “antitrust attor­ney and free­lance writer” and address­es top­ics includ­ing the sup­posed threat to con­ser­v­a­tive speech posed by Google and Face­book, and the ways reg­u­la­tion and antitrust might be used to ensure “view­point neu­tral­i­ty” and con­sumer pro­tec­tion, respec­tive­ly. They make no men­tion of his past, which includes con­tri­bu­tions to the white nation­al­ist site VDare and charges that he assault­ed a black woman, after racial­ly abus­ing her, in 2007. (In 2008 in Dis­trict of Colum­bia Supe­ri­or Court, Epstein entered an Alford plea — a plea in which the defen­dant accepts the con­se­quences of a guilty ver­dict with­out admit­ting guilt — after which the charges were dropped.)

    The pub­li­ca­tion of Epstein’s pieces is the lat­est instance of the far-right, hyper-nation­al­ist fringe becom­ing part of the main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment over the last decade. The Jour­nal, which ran a piece from Epstein titled “Antitrust, Free Speech and Google” ear­li­er this month, declined to say if it looked into his his­to­ry before pub­lish­ing his work.

    “We know Mark Epstein as we iden­ti­fied him for our read­ers: a free­lance writer and antitrust attor­ney who has writ­ten on antitrust and reg­u­la­tion for a vari­ety of pub­li­ca­tions,” a Jour­nal spokesper­son said to Buz­zFeed News in a state­ment. “We are not aware that he has writ­ten under any oth­er byline.”

    In a state­ment pro­vid­ed to Buz­zFeed News, Epstein explained his deci­sion to write under a pen name.

    “Dur­ing col­lege and imme­di­ate­ly there­after I strug­gled with alco­hol, which led to — among oth­er prob­lems — a mis­de­meanor assault charge in 2007 which was ulti­mate­ly dis­missed,” he wrote. “I changed my name in an attempt to move past the media-inter­net dri­ven out­rage cul­ture which refus­es to allow peo­ple to move on with their lives. I sub­mit­ted these arti­cles under this name, with an accu­rate bio, and which expressed my hon­est opin­ions.”

    In the years since the assault charge, Epstein told Buz­zFeed News he became sober, grad­u­at­ed near the top of his class from Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn Law School, and devel­oped con­cerns about the pow­er wield­ed by big tech com­pa­nies.

    But Epstein, who worked for the con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Pat Buchanan, was a key fig­ure in nativist and white nation­al­ist polit­i­cal cir­cles from the mid-2000s to the ear­ly 2010s. In 2006, he found­ed the now-defunct Robert A. Taft Club along­side Spencer and Kevin DeAn­na, anoth­er lead­ing white nation­al­ist. Invit­ed speak­ers to that club includ­ed influ­en­tial white suprema­cist Jared Tay­lor and the jour­nal­ist John Der­byshire, who would even­tu­al­ly be fired from the Nation­al Review in 2012 for a racist col­umn.

    Epstein also helped run Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion, a far-right stu­dent group, found­ed by DeAn­na and Tay­lor, whose mem­bers includ­ed white sep­a­ratist and neo-Nazi Matthew Heim­bach. From 2004 to 2009, Epstein, under his full name, wrote for VDare, where his posts came with provoca­tive head­lines like “[Howard] Dean Is Right — GOP Is “The White Par­ty.” So?”; “It Depends On What Your Def­i­n­i­tion Of “Jim Crow” Is”; and “White Refugees And Cul­ture.”

    In a state­ment, Epstein denied that he had ever held white nation­al­ist beliefs. “As a proud Amer­i­can of Jew­ish and Asian descent, I obvi­ous­ly have nev­er been white nation­al­ist nor held their beliefs.”

    Under the name “Mark Epstein,” the for­mer con­gres­sion­al staffer stays away from the top­ics of race and immi­gra­tion. In his most recent piece for the Jour­nal in June, he wrote that “antitrust law isn’t a panacea” and shouldn’t be used to com­bat per­ceived bias against con­ser­v­a­tive voic­es, as advo­cat­ed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. He made a sim­i­lar argu­ment in a piece for the Hill in 2017.

    The Hill, which ran at least two pieces from Epstein in 2017, said that the edi­tor who approved the pieces no longer works at the pub­li­ca­tion so it does “not know what vet­ting he per­formed at the time.”

    “We would nev­er know­ing­ly post mate­r­i­al from a racist writer and have no infor­ma­tion iden­ti­fy­ing this writer as such,” a Hill spokesper­son said. “The Hill gen­er­al­ly posts opin­ion sub­mis­sions from well-known writ­ers but we occa­sion­al­ly post columns by less­er known indi­vid­u­als. We make efforts to check their back­grounds, as well as requir­ing them to sign paper­work ver­i­fy­ing their iden­ti­ties, back­grounds and the absence of con­flicts of inter­est.”

    Epstein also coau­thored at least four op-eds in the Jour­nal, Forbes, and US News and World Report with Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty law pro­fes­sor Adam Can­deub, who rep­re­sent­ed Tay­lor in a law­suit against Twit­ter. US News did not respond to a request for com­ment, while Forbes said it had tak­en down Can­deub and Epstein’s post for fur­ther review.

    “Epstein appeared on our plat­form with­out per­mis­sion as a co-author on one of our contributor’s posts,” a Forbes spokesper­son told Buz­zFeed News, not­ing that he was nev­er an autho­rized con­trib­u­tor. “Forbes guide­lines explic­it­ly pro­hib­it adding co-authors with­out per­mis­sion.”

    The edi­tor of Nation­al Review, which pub­lished a piece from Epstein in 2017, did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    In an email, Can­deub declined to say if he was aware of Epstein’s past.

    ...

    ———-

    “A For­mer Repub­li­can Oper­a­tive With Ties To White Nation­al­ists Has Been Pub­lish­ing Opin­ion Pieces In The Wall Street Jour­nal” by Ryan Mac and Joseph Bern­stein; Buz­zFeed News; 06/18/2019

    Mar­cus Epstein, who worked for for­mer Col­orado con­gress­man Tom Tan­cre­do and found­ed a nativist polit­i­cal club with white nation­al­ist Richard Spencer, has writ­ten more than a dozen opin­ion pieces for the Jour­nal, the Hill, Forbes, US News and World Report, and the Nation­al Review over the past two years. His pieces, which main­ly focus on the reg­u­la­tion of the tech­nol­o­gy indus­try, were pub­lished under the byline “Mark Epstein.””

    He’s note Mar­cus Epstein the known racist. No, he’s Mark Epstein, a lawyer with an inter­est in anti-trust issues, tech­nol­o­gy, and reg­u­la­tion. He was­n’t exact­ly going under­cov­er. And he was­n’t exact­ly under­cov­er as a white nation­al­ist dur­ing the years when he was ris­ing young con­ser­v­a­tive leader. That’s what makes the fact that he was pub­lished as “Mark Epstein” so scan­dalous. It would be like if David Duke decid­ed to start pub­lish­ing under the pen name “Dave Duke” and all these pub­li­ca­tions act­ed like they were com­plete­ly fooled by this pen name because he was­n’t writ­ing overt­ly racist screeds:

    ...
    In six dif­fer­ent pieces for the Jour­nal, Epstein is iden­ti­fied as an “antitrust attor­ney and free­lance writer” and address­es top­ics includ­ing the sup­posed threat to con­ser­v­a­tive speech posed by Google and Face­book, and the ways reg­u­la­tion and antitrust might be used to ensure “view­point neu­tral­i­ty” and con­sumer pro­tec­tion, respec­tive­ly. They make no men­tion of his past, which includes con­tri­bu­tions to the white nation­al­ist site VDare and charges that he assault­ed a black woman, after racial­ly abus­ing her, in 2007. (In 2008 in Dis­trict of Colum­bia Supe­ri­or Court, Epstein entered an Alford plea — a plea in which the defen­dant accepts the con­se­quences of a guilty ver­dict with­out admit­ting guilt — after which the charges were dropped.)

    The pub­li­ca­tion of Epstein’s pieces is the lat­est instance of the far-right, hyper-nation­al­ist fringe becom­ing part of the main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment over the last decade. The Jour­nal, which ran a piece from Epstein titled “Antitrust, Free Speech and Google” ear­li­er this month, declined to say if it looked into his his­to­ry before pub­lish­ing his work.

    “We know Mark Epstein as we iden­ti­fied him for our read­ers: a free­lance writer and antitrust attor­ney who has writ­ten on antitrust and reg­u­la­tion for a vari­ety of pub­li­ca­tions,” a Jour­nal spokesper­son said to Buz­zFeed News in a state­ment. “We are not aware that he has writ­ten under any oth­er byline.”

    ...

    Under the name “Mark Epstein,” the for­mer con­gres­sion­al staffer stays away from the top­ics of race and immi­gra­tion. In his most recent piece for the Jour­nal in June, he wrote that “antitrust law isn’t a panacea” and shouldn’t be used to com­bat per­ceived bias against con­ser­v­a­tive voic­es, as advo­cat­ed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. He made a sim­i­lar argu­ment in a piece for the Hill in 2017.
    ...

    And note how Epstein is por­tray­ing his past role as a lead­ing racist as sim­ply in the past and not who he is today. Beyond that, Epstein goes on to deny that he has ever held white nation­al­ist beliefs, cit­ing his Jew­ish and Asian her­itage. Again, don’t for­get the sto­ry about the DHS employ­ee who was invit­ed by Epstein to attend an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” event in 2016. Epstein is unam­bigu­ous­ly still a fel­low trav­el­er of neo-Nazis but it’s clear that the main­stream­ing role he plays requires cov­er­ing up and deny­ing that past:

    ...
    In a state­ment pro­vid­ed to Buz­zFeed News, Epstein explained his deci­sion to write under a pen name.

    “Dur­ing col­lege and imme­di­ate­ly there­after I strug­gled with alco­hol, which led to — among oth­er prob­lems — a mis­de­meanor assault charge in 2007 which was ulti­mate­ly dis­missed,” he wrote. “I changed my name in an attempt to move past the media-inter­net dri­ven out­rage cul­ture which refus­es to allow peo­ple to move on with their lives. I sub­mit­ted these arti­cles under this name, with an accu­rate bio, and which expressed my hon­est opin­ions.

    In the years since the assault charge, Epstein told Buz­zFeed News he became sober, grad­u­at­ed near the top of his class from Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn Law School, and devel­oped con­cerns about the pow­er wield­ed by big tech com­pa­nies.

    But Epstein, who worked for the con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Pat Buchanan, was a key fig­ure in nativist and white nation­al­ist polit­i­cal cir­cles from the mid-2000s to the ear­ly 2010s. In 2006, he found­ed the now-defunct Robert A. Taft Club along­side Spencer and Kevin DeAn­na, anoth­er lead­ing white nation­al­ist. Invit­ed speak­ers to that club includ­ed influ­en­tial white suprema­cist Jared Tay­lor and the jour­nal­ist John Der­byshire, who would even­tu­al­ly be fired from the Nation­al Review in 2012 for a racist col­umn.

    Epstein also helped run Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion, a far-right stu­dent group, found­ed by DeAn­na and Tay­lor, whose mem­bers includ­ed white sep­a­ratist and neo-Nazi Matthew Heim­bach. From 2004 to 2009, Epstein, under his full name, wrote for VDare, where his posts came with provoca­tive head­lines like “[Howard] Dean Is Right — GOP Is “The White Par­ty.” So?”; “It Depends On What Your Def­i­n­i­tion Of “Jim Crow” Is”; and “White Refugees And Cul­ture.”

    In a state­ment, Epstein denied that he had ever held white nation­al­ist beliefs. “As a proud Amer­i­can of Jew­ish and Asian descent, I obvi­ous­ly have nev­er been white nation­al­ist nor held their beliefs.”
    ...

    And note how four of the pieces Epstein wrote were co-authored with a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Jared Tay­lor in a law­suit against Twit­ter over the sus­pen­sion of his account, under­scor­ing the obvi­ous rea­son for Epstein’s inter­est in tech cen­sor­ship:

    ...
    Epstein also coau­thored at least four op-eds in the Jour­nal, Forbes, and US News and World Report with Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty law pro­fes­sor Adam Can­deub, who rep­re­sent­ed Tay­lor in a law­suit against Twit­ter. US News did not respond to a request for com­ment, while Forbes said it had tak­en down Can­deub and Epstein’s post for fur­ther review.

    “Epstein appeared on our plat­form with­out per­mis­sion as a co-author on one of our contributor’s posts,” a Forbes spokesper­son told Buz­zFeed News, not­ing that he was nev­er an autho­rized con­trib­u­tor. “Forbes guide­lines explic­it­ly pro­hib­it adding co-authors with­out per­mis­sion.”

    The edi­tor of Nation­al Review, which pub­lished a piece from Epstein in 2017, did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    In an email, Can­deub declined to say if he was aware of Epstein’s past.
    ...

    So that’s an exam­ple of how we have an open white nation­al­ist who man­aged to some­how go ‘under­cov­er’ by write under a pen name that’s basi­cal­ly his own name so he can advo­cate for poli­cies that will make it hard­er for pri­vate com­pa­nies to kick neo-Nazis off of social media.

    Now let’s take a clos­er look at Epstein’s back­ground because there’s anoth­er fig­ure close to Epstein who is also quite emblem­at­ic of the merg­ing of main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive media with neo-Nazis and the far right: James O’Keefe, one of the lead­ing ‘sting video’ far right trolls of the last decade who spe­cial­izes in send­ing in under­cov­er oper­a­tives to left-wing orga­ni­za­tions with the intent of get­ting com­pro­mis­ing video. O’Keefe has since earned a rep­u­ta­tion for released heav­i­ly selec­tive­ly and decep­tive­ly edit­ed videos, but back in 2009, before this was known about O’Keefe’s cred­i­bil­i­ty, he man­aged to gain nation­al noto­ri­ety in 2009 when he got the left-wing com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tion group ACORN, that focused on vot­er reg­is­tra­tion efforts, shut down with a video where he pre­tend­ed to be a pimp with a pros­ti­tute. It turned out even that video was decep­tive­ly edit­ed but ACORN was still shut down. O’Keefe lat­er sued by one of the ACORN employ­ees over the decep­tive video and paid $100,000. Dur­ing the course of that law­suit it was revealed that the Koch-fund­ed ALEC was fund­ing O’Keefe’s work.

    So O’Keefe is known liar who is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly cel­e­brat­ed with­in the right-wing media bub­ble as some sort of truth teller. And, sur­prise!, it turns out O’Keefe and Epstein have quite a his­to­ry. A his­to­ry that pre-dates O’Keefe’s time as a right-wing media dar­ling. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle describes, back when O’Keefe was a stu­dent at Rut­gers he got in trou­ble over alleged racism. By his own account, O’Keefe was giv­en a room in an all black dorm when he refused to live with a gay room­mate. But then he got expelled from his dorm for refer­ring to black stu­dents as “nig­gers”. O’Keefe vehe­ment­ly denies he ever used such lan­guage. The next year, O’Keefe got a ‘dream job’ in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment at the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute. It was there O’Keefe met Epstein. In August of 2006, Epstein planned a “Race and Con­ser­vatism” event that lead­ing racist fig­ures like Jared Tay­lor and John Der­byshire. It was so obvi­ous­ly a con­ven­tion for racists that even Storm­front wrote about the event. O’Keefe manned a lit­er­a­ture table filled with white suprema­cist tracts at the con­fer­ence. These were two ris­ing con­ser­v­a­tive stars work­ing for the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute orga­niz­ing a racist con­fer­ence in 2006, just a few years before O’Keefe’s ACORN video made him a nation­al con­ser­v­a­tive media celebri­ty.

    It was one of O’Keefe’s ear­ly prank/stings that lost him his job at the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute in 2007 after he called an Ohio-based Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ic and offered a dona­tion on the con­di­tion that it would be used to pay for abort­ing African-Amer­i­can fetus­es. O’Keefe told the recep­tion­ist that he’s mak­ing the dona­tion, “because there’s def­i­nite­ly way too many black peo­ple in Ohio.” This appar­ent­ly vio­lat­ed the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute’s stan­dards. Upon hear­ing about O’Keefe’s prank and fir­ing, Andrew Bre­it­bart hired O’Keefe to car­ry out the ACORN oper­a­tion that made O’Keefe famous.

    And that dis­turb­ing biog­ra­phy is why James O’Keefe isn’t just an exam­ple of what has gone wrong with the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment in Amer­i­can. He’s also an exam­ple how the con­ser­v­a­tive media has been almost com­plete­ly tak­en over by overt racists who con­tin­ue to main­stream white nation­al­ism:

    Salon.com

    James O’Keefe’s race prob­lem
    A pho­to of the righty stunt­man at a white-nation­al­ist con­fab illus­trates a career marked by racial resent­ment

    Max Blu­men­thal
    Feb­ru­ary 3, 2010 7:04PM (UTC)

    Many of the con­ser­v­a­tives who glee­ful­ly pro­mot­ed James O’Keefe’s past polit­i­cal stunts are feign­ing shock at his arrest on charges that he and three asso­ciates planned to tam­per with Louisiana Sen. Mary Lan­drieu’s phone lines. Once upon a time, right-wing pun­dits hailed the 25-year-old O’Keefe as a cre­ative genius and mod­el of jour­nal­is­tic ethics. Andrew Bre­it­bart, who has paid O’Keefe, called him one of the all-time “great jour­nal­ists” and said he deserved a Pulitzer for his under­cov­er ACORN video. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly declared he should have earned a “con­gres­sion­al medal.”

    His right-wing admir­ers don’t seem to mind that O’Keefe’s short but sto­ried career has been defined by a series of polit­i­cal stunts shot through with racial resent­ment. Now an activist orga­ni­za­tion that mon­i­tors hate groups has pro­duced a pho­to of O’Keefe at a 2006 con­fer­ence on “Race and Con­ser­vatism” that fea­tured lead­ing white nation­al­ists. The pho­to, first pub­lished Jan. 30 on the Web site of the anti-racism group One Peo­ple’s Project, shows O’Keefe at the gath­er­ing, which was so con­tro­ver­sial even the ultra-right Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, which employed O’Keefe at the time, with­drew its back­ing. O’Keefe’s fel­low young con­ser­v­a­tive provo­ca­teur Mar­cus Epstein orga­nized the event, which gave anti-Semi­tes, pro­fes­sion­al racists and pro­po­nents of Aryanism an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share their griev­ances and plans to make inroads in the GOP.

    One Peo­ple’s Project cov­ered the event at the time, send­ing a free­lance pho­tog­ra­ph­er to doc­u­ment the gath­er­ing. Project direc­tor Daryle Jenk­ins told O’Keefe manned a lit­er­a­ture table filled with tracts from the white suprema­cist right, includ­ing two pseu­do-aca­d­e­m­ic pub­li­ca­tions that have called blacks and Lati­nos genet­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or to whites: Amer­i­can Renais­sance and the Occi­den­tal Quar­ter­ly. The lead­ing speak­er was Jared Tay­lor, founder of the white nation­al­ist group Amer­i­can Renais­sance. “We can say for cer­tain that James O’Keefe was at the 2006 meet­ing with Jared Tay­lor. He has absolute­ly no way of deny­ing that,” Jenk­ins said. O’Keefe’s attor­ney did not respond to a request for com­ment on his clien­t’s role in the con­fer­ence.

    [Sub­se­quent to pub­li­ca­tion, free­lance pho­tog­ra­ph­er Isis told Salon she saw O’Keefe help­ing with the event and believed he staffed the lit­er­a­ture table, but her only pho­to­graph of O’Keefe was cropped so that the lit­er­a­ture table isn’t evi­dent. “He was help­ing Mar­cus Epstein in the exe­cu­tion of the event,” the pho­tog­ra­ph­er recalls. “O’Keefe was involved the same way you would be involved if you went to a par­ty and you put out the cups and stocked the cool­er.”]

    ...

    By O’Keefe’s own account, his racial trou­bles became acute when he entered the mul­ti­cul­tur­al atmos­phere of Rut­gers University’s dor­mi­to­ry sys­tem. In an online diary that has since been scrubbed from the Web (but not before being cap­tured on Dai­ly Kos), he wrote that he was forced to live on an all-black dor­mi­to­ry floor after refus­ing to live with the gay room­mate he was ini­tial­ly assigned. O’Keefe claimed his next room­mate was “an Indi­an midget ... who smelled like shit.” The room­mate left, how­ev­er, and was replaced by “a greek kid.” The new room­mate com­plained to a res­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tor that O’Keefe had called his neigh­bors “nig­gers,” prompt­ing the school to expel him from the dorm. He reject­ed the accu­sa­tion as a “com­plete lie,” writ­ing, “I was lead out of the room cry­ing and scream­ing at him and my sit­u­a­tion, no friends, no one one [sic] to talk to, forced to go in front of a black man, Dean Tol­bert, to defend myself and help explain that I did not call any­one any names.”

    The fol­low­ing year, despite this record, O’Keefe secured a dream job in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, employed by the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, a North­ern Vir­ginia-based out­fit that serves as the movement’s most pro­lif­ic youth train­ing oper­a­tion. There, O’Keefe met Mar­cus Epstein, a fel­low ide­o­logue who as edi­tor of a con­ser­v­a­tive pub­li­ca­tion at the Col­lege of William and Mary assailed Mar­tin Luther King Jr. for “phi­lan­der­ing and pla­gia­rism” and chal­lenged his patri­o­tism and Chris­tian­i­ty.

    In August 2006 Epstein planned an event that would wed his extreme views on race with his ambi­tions. Epstein invit­ed white nation­al­ist Jared Tay­lor and homo­pho­bic white-griev­ance ped­dler John Der­byshire of the Nation­al Review to speak at the Lead­er­ship Institute’s North­ern Vir­ginia head­quar­ters, at a mock sym­po­sium called “Race and Con­ser­vatism.”

    Accord­ing to a post on the white suprema­cist Web site Storm­front, Tay­lor and Der­byshire debat­ed “the role of race in pol­i­cy deci­sions and the racial future of the Repub­li­can par­ty.”

    When the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter denounced Taylor’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the event, spark­ing dam­ag­ing pub­lic­i­ty for the Insti­tute, Epstein shift­ed it across the street, where he played host under the aus­pices of a “tra­di­tion­al­ist” group he found­ed called the Robert A. Taft Club. O’Keefe joined him after the last-minute move. A speak­er from the right-wing black front group Project 21, led by white con­ser­v­a­tive David Almasi, was added at the last minute.

    Accord­ing to One Peo­ple’s Project, which dis­patched an under­cov­er reporter to the event, about 40 peo­ple attend­ed the event, includ­ing sev­er­al white suprema­cists. They includ­ed Michael Hart, a Jew­ish astro­physi­cist and advo­cate of racial­ly par­ti­tion­ing the U.S., who once clashed with David Duke at a con­fer­ence over the Ku Klux Klan lead­er’s anti-Semi­tism.

    The event’s head­line speak­er, Jared Tay­lor, is the pub­lish­er of one of the white suprema­cist movement’s fore­most jour­nals, Amer­i­can Renais­sance, which seeks to apply an aca­d­e­m­ic gloss to the racial­ist screeds con­tained on its pages. Accord­ing to a report on the con­fer­ence pub­lished in Tay­lor’s mag­a­zine, Tay­lor argued that a taboo against dis­cussing the alleged crim­i­nal behav­ior and low­er intel­li­gence of blacks and Lati­nos twist­ed polit­i­cal dis­course, and he advo­cat­ed a strong white nation­al­ism to counter it. Der­byshire denounced “this whole rick­ety appa­ra­tus of affir­ma­tive action, dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suits, cor­po­rate shake­downs, pro­fil­ing protests and ‘speech codes.’” But the Nation­al Review edi­tor expressed doubt that a suf­fi­cient­ly large white nation­al­ist move­ment could be mus­tered to do much about it.

    Epstein and O’Keefe moved on from the “Race and Con­ser­vatism” con­fer­ence to bet­ter things. After grad­u­at­ing from the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, Epstein held jobs as exec­u­tive direc­tor of both for­mer Repub­li­can Rep. Tom Tancredo’s Team Amer­i­ca PAC and Pat Buchanan’s Amer­i­can Cause. He also start­ed a group called Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion that ded­i­cat­ed itself to “defend­ing the West on cam­pus.” An essay fea­tured on the group’s Web site com­plain­ing that “large­ly Jew­ish intel­lec­tu­al elites have utter­ly trans­formed Amer­i­can social and polit­i­cal dis­course” sug­gest­ed that Epstein’s out­fit was only his lat­est attempt to push white nation­al­ism and anti-Semi­tism into the con­ser­v­a­tive main­stream.

    Epstein’s career unrav­eled in June 2009, when a vio­lent racial assault he com­mit­ted two years ear­li­er was dis­closed. Accord­ing to a court affi­davit, Epstein had karate-chopped a ran­dom African-Amer­i­can woman in the face and called her a “nig­ger” dur­ing a drunk­en late-night romp bar-hop­ping on Washington’s M Street in 2007, lead­ing to his arrest by an off-duty Secret Ser­vice agent. He signed a plea bar­gain requir­ing him to attend alco­hol reha­bil­i­ta­tion cours­es and donate $1,000 to the Unit­ed Negro Col­lege Fund as a token of his con­tri­tion.

    Mean­while, O’Keefe lost his job at the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute in 2007 after a prank call he made to an Ohio-based Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ic. Dur­ing the call, O’Keefe offered a dona­tion to the clin­ic on the con­di­tion that it would be ear­marked to pay for abort­ing African-Amer­i­can fetus­es. “Because there’s def­i­nite­ly way too many black peo­ple in Ohio,” O’Keefe remarked to the recep­tion­ist. “So, I’m just try­ing to do my part.” Lead­er­ship Insti­tute founder Mor­ton Black­well said O’Keefe’s stunts went beyond the right-wing group’s stan­dards. “He want­ed to do sting oper­a­tions that would affect leg­is­la­tion; he made some calls which have been cov­ered in the news media to Planned Par­ent­hood,” Black­well told the New York Times. “That was beyond the scope of what we had hired him to do. We are an edu­ca­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion. We are not an activist orga­ni­za­tion.” Black­well told O’Keefe he had to choose between his job and his activism, “and he said he was com­mit­ted to the activism,” accord­ing to the Times.

    O’Keefe’s ter­mi­na­tion by the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute hard­ly end­ed his career as a con­ser­v­a­tive activist. Right-wing online pub­li­cist Andrew Bre­it­bart, hear­ing of the mer­ry prankster’s exploits, hired him to car­ry out the ACORN oper­a­tion that would make him famous. Since his arrest, how­ev­er, some of O’Keefe’s for­mer asso­ciates are scram­bling to save face. “I am shocked by the reports of this behav­ior,” declared O’Keefe’s col­lab­o­ra­tor on the ACORN oper­a­tion, Han­nah Giles. (Giles had tart­ed up as a pros­ti­tute for the stunt.)

    O’Keefe has now hired a defense attor­ney and is wag­ing a high pub­lic­i­ty bat­tle against charges that could land him in prison for near­ly a year. Some of his old allies, like Bre­it­bart, remain in his cor­ner. Fox News’ Sean Han­ni­ty host­ed O’Keefe for a sym­pa­thet­ic sit­down Feb. 1, where the young right-winger played vic­tim, claim­ing he was being per­se­cut­ed by “flat-out slan­der­ing” and “jour­nal­is­tic mal­prac­tice.”

    ———-

    “James O’Keefe’s race prob­lem” by Max Blu­men­thal; Salon.com; 02/03/2010

    “O’Keefe has now hired a defense attor­ney and is wag­ing a high pub­lic­i­ty bat­tle against charges that could land him in prison for near­ly a year. Some of his old allies, like Bre­it­bart, remain in his cor­ner. Fox News’ Sean Han­ni­ty host­ed O’Keefe for a sym­pa­thet­ic sit­down Feb. 1, where the young right-winger played vic­tim, claim­ing he was being per­se­cut­ed by “flat-out slan­der­ing” and “jour­nal­is­tic mal­prac­tice.”

    That’s right, James O’Keefe was blam­ing oth­er peo­ple of “flat-out slan­der­ing” and “jour­nal­is­tic mal­prac­tice.” How fit­ting. Those com­ments were in response to the poten­tial legal trou­bles he was fac­ing at the time over the attempt­ed wiring of Sen­a­tor Mary Lan­drieu’s office phones (he end­ed up get­ting three years pro­ba­tion). It’s unclear what O’Keefe’s response is to the pho­tos of him man­ning the white suprema­cist lit­er­a­ture table at the “Race and Con­ser­vatism” con­fer­ence orga­nized by Epstein in 2006 but pre­sum­ably he would also call it flat-out slan­der­ing and jour­nal­is­tic mal­prac­tice:

    ...
    His right-wing admir­ers don’t seem to mind that O’Keefe’s short but sto­ried career has been defined by a series of polit­i­cal stunts shot through with racial resent­ment. Now an activist orga­ni­za­tion that mon­i­tors hate groups has pro­duced a pho­to of O’Keefe at a 2006 con­fer­ence on “Race and Con­ser­vatism” that fea­tured lead­ing white nation­al­ists. The pho­to, first pub­lished Jan. 30 on the Web site of the anti-racism group One Peo­ple’s Project, shows O’Keefe at the gath­er­ing, which was so con­tro­ver­sial even the ultra-right Lead­er­ship Insti­tute, which employed O’Keefe at the time, with­drew its back­ing. O’Keefe’s fel­low young con­ser­v­a­tive provo­ca­teur Mar­cus Epstein orga­nized the event, which gave anti-Semi­tes, pro­fes­sion­al racists and pro­po­nents of Aryanism an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share their griev­ances and plans to make inroads in the GOP.

    One Peo­ple’s Project cov­ered the event at the time, send­ing a free­lance pho­tog­ra­ph­er to doc­u­ment the gath­er­ing. Project direc­tor Daryle Jenk­ins told O’Keefe manned a lit­er­a­ture table filled with tracts from the white suprema­cist right, includ­ing two pseu­do-aca­d­e­m­ic pub­li­ca­tions that have called blacks and Lati­nos genet­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or to whites: Amer­i­can Renais­sance and the Occi­den­tal Quar­ter­ly. The lead­ing speak­er was Jared Tay­lor, founder of the white nation­al­ist group Amer­i­can Renais­sance. “We can say for cer­tain that James O’Keefe was at the 2006 meet­ing with Jared Tay­lor. He has absolute­ly no way of deny­ing that,” Jenk­ins said. O’Keefe’s attor­ney did not respond to a request for com­ment on his clien­t’s role in the con­fer­ence.
    ...

    And note how the “Race and Con­ser­vatism” con­fer­ence was ini­tial­ly sup­posed to take place at the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute’s head­quar­ters, but got moved to the “tra­di­tion­al­ist” Robert A. Taft Club after the SPLC gave the con­fer­ence bad pub­lic­i­ty. Recall, as we saw about, that the club was found­ed by Epstein, Richard Spencer, and Kevin DeAn­na. Also note that John Der­byshire, one of the invit­ed speak­ers, wrote for the Nation­al Review which is anoth­er exam­ple of how open racists have along found homes in right-wing media. The Nation­al Review was one of the pub­li­ca­tions that’s been run­ning opin­ion pieces by “Mark Epstein”:

    ...
    In August 2006 Epstein planned an event that would wed his extreme views on race with his ambi­tions. Epstein invit­ed white nation­al­ist Jared Tay­lor and homo­pho­bic white-griev­ance ped­dler John Der­byshire of the Nation­al Review to speak at the Lead­er­ship Institute’s North­ern Vir­ginia head­quar­ters, at a mock sym­po­sium called “Race and Con­ser­vatism.”

    Accord­ing to a post on the white suprema­cist Web site Storm­front, Tay­lor and Der­byshire debat­ed “the role of race in pol­i­cy deci­sions and the racial future of the Repub­li­can par­ty.”

    When the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter denounced Taylor’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the event, spark­ing dam­ag­ing pub­lic­i­ty for the Insti­tute, Epstein shift­ed it across the street, where he played host under the aus­pices of a “tra­di­tion­al­ist” group he found­ed called the Robert A. Taft Club. O’Keefe joined him after the last-minute move. A speak­er from the right-wing black front group Project 21, led by white con­ser­v­a­tive David Almasi, was added at the last minute.

    Accord­ing to One Peo­ple’s Project, which dis­patched an under­cov­er reporter to the event, about 40 peo­ple attend­ed the event, includ­ing sev­er­al white suprema­cists. They includ­ed Michael Hart, a Jew­ish astro­physi­cist and advo­cate of racial­ly par­ti­tion­ing the U.S., who once clashed with David Duke at a con­fer­ence over the Ku Klux Klan lead­er’s anti-Semi­tism.
    ...

    But his involve­ment with the “Con­ser­vatism and Race” con­fer­ence was­n’t what got O’Keefe fired from the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute. It was his racial­ly charged prank with Planned Par­ent­hood in 2007 that go him fire, at which point Andrew Bre­it­bart hired O’Keefe to run his ACORN fake sting:

    ...
    Mean­while, O’Keefe lost his job at the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute in 2007 after a prank call he made to an Ohio-based Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ic. Dur­ing the call, O’Keefe offered a dona­tion to the clin­ic on the con­di­tion that it would be ear­marked to pay for abort­ing African-Amer­i­can fetus­es. “Because there’s def­i­nite­ly way too many black peo­ple in Ohio,” O’Keefe remarked to the recep­tion­ist. “So, I’m just try­ing to do my part.” Lead­er­ship Insti­tute founder Mor­ton Black­well said O’Keefe’s stunts went beyond the right-wing group’s stan­dards. “He want­ed to do sting oper­a­tions that would affect leg­is­la­tion; he made some calls which have been cov­ered in the news media to Planned Par­ent­hood,” Black­well told the New York Times. “That was beyond the scope of what we had hired him to do. We are an edu­ca­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion. We are not an activist orga­ni­za­tion.” Black­well told O’Keefe he had to choose between his job and his activism, “and he said he was com­mit­ted to the activism,” accord­ing to the Times.

    O’Keefe’s ter­mi­na­tion by the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute hard­ly end­ed his career as a con­ser­v­a­tive activist. Right-wing online pub­li­cist Andrew Bre­it­bart, hear­ing of the mer­ry prankster’s exploits, hired him to car­ry out the ACORN oper­a­tion that would make him famous. Since his arrest, how­ev­er, some of O’Keefe’s for­mer asso­ciates are scram­bling to save face. “I am shocked by the reports of this behav­ior,” declared O’Keefe’s col­lab­o­ra­tor on the ACORN oper­a­tion, Han­nah Giles. (Giles had tart­ed up as a pros­ti­tute for the stunt.)
    ...

    So to sum­ma­rize, in 2006, O’Keefe and Epstein run a racist con­fer­ence under the ban­ner of the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute. Then O’Keefe gets fired in 2007 for a prank phone call with Planned Par­ent­hood. That ends up get­ting him hired by Andrew Bre­it­bart who tasks him with the ACORN hoax sting, mak­ing O’Keefe a right-wing media dar­ling. Mar­cus Epstein’s career implod­ed in 2009 fol­low­ing the expose of his 2007 racist drunk attack on woman, but he’s man­aged to find a new niche as play­ing the role of impar­tial lawyer “Mark Epstein” who writes op-ed piece about Big Tech and free­dom of speech. It’s all part of the con­text for the mod­ern day main­stream­ing of the ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazi world­views. Yes, social media is play­ing a mas­sive role in that process, but as the biogra­phies of Epstein and O’Keefe remind us, peo­ple who embrace neo-Nazi world­views were already pret­ty main­stream with­in con­ser­v­a­tive move­men­t’s lead­er­ship long before social media came along to sell it to the rest of the mass­es. Epstein and O’Keefe were the ‘Alt Right’ pals of peo­ple like Richard Spencer before the term ‘Alt Right’ had been invent­ed. It’s a reminder that when Spencer coined the term ‘Alt Right’ he was­n’t describ­ing a group of far right white nation­al­ists who were going to infil­trate and take over the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. He was describ­ing a group of far right white nation­al­ists who had already infil­trat­ed the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. A group that was heav­i­ly rep­re­sent­ed by a gen­er­a­tion of once-ris­ing right-wing stars like James O’Keefe and Mar­cus Epstein.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 25, 2019, 3:12 pm
  18. Here’s a series of arti­cles that high­lights the absur­di­ty of the grow­ing GOP cam­paign to ‘work the refs’ by push­ing a nar­ra­tive that social media com­pa­nies are biased against con­ser­v­a­tives: First, that nar­ra­tive got anoth­er boost this week when Pres­i­dent Trump whined that Twit­ter, Google, and oth­er tech giants are sup­press­ing his mes­sag­ing and caus­ing him to lose Twit­ter fol­low­ers.

    One of the rea­sons con­ser­v­a­tives are claim­ing to be so upset with Twit­ter is the declin­ing num­bers of Twit­ter fol­low­ers. But as the arti­cle notes, these com­plaints about dwin­dling fol­low­ers has been hap­pen­ing at the same time Twit­ter has been imple­ment­ing a pol­i­cy of remov­ing accounts that are sus­pect­ed of being bots and ped­dling hate speech. As the arti­cle also notes, Pres­i­dent Trump actu­al­ly has a his­to­ry of tweets that vio­late Twit­ters poli­cies but he’s allowed to tweet them out any­way because he’s a pub­lic offi­cial. And that’s the con­text of Trump sug­gest­ing the tech com­pa­nies should be sued over bias against con­ser­v­a­tive. He even declared that “These peo­ple are all Democ­rats, it’s total­ly biased toward Democ­rats. If I announced tomor­row that I’m going to become a nice lib­er­al Demo­c­rat, I would pick up five times more fol­low­ers.”:

    CNBC

    Trump says big tech com­pa­nies like Twit­ter are ‘all Democ­rats’ and pur­pose­ly repress­ing his reach

    Thomas Franck
    Pub­lished Wed, Jun 26 2019 8:44 AM EDT
    Updat­ed Wed, Jun 26 2019 11:58 AM EDT

    * “Twit­ter is just ter­ri­ble, what they do. They don’t let you get the word out,” Trump tells Fox Busi­ness Net­work. “I’ll tell you what, they should be sued,” Trump says.
    * Twit­ter and Face­book have dou­bled down on efforts to remove com­ments and accounts sus­pect­ed of hate speech as well as those thought to be bots.
    * “These peo­ple are all Democ­rats,” Trump says. “If I announced tomor­row that I’m going to become a nice lib­er­al Demo­c­rat, I would pick up five times more fol­low­ers.”

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump lam­bast­ed Twit­ter, Google and oth­er tech­nol­o­gy giants on Wednes­day, claim­ing they are repress­ing his mes­sag­ing and pub­lic com­men­tary.

    “Twit­ter is just ter­ri­ble, what they do. They don’t let you get the word out,” Trump told Fox Busi­ness Net­work. “I’ll tell you what, they should be sued because what’s hap­pen­ing with the bias — and now you see it with that exec­u­tive yes­ter­day from Google. The hatred for the Repub­li­cans: It’s not even like ‘Gee! Let’s lean Demo­c­rat.’”

    “These peo­ple are all Democ­rats, it’s total­ly biased toward Democ­rats. If I announced tomor­row that I’m going to become a nice lib­er­al Demo­c­rat, I would pick up five times more fol­low­ers,” he said. Twitter’s shares took a tem­po­rary hit in pre­mar­ket trad­ing as the pres­i­dent spoke.

    Twit­ter reit­er­at­ed via email on Wednes­day that its focus is on improv­ing the health of its plat­form — includ­ing the removal of fake accounts to pre­vent mali­cious activ­i­ty — and that many promi­nent fig­ures have seen fol­low­er counts drop as a result.

    “We build our prod­ucts with extra­or­di­nary care and safe­guards to be a trust­wor­thy source of infor­ma­tion for every­one, with­out any regard for polit­i­cal view­point,” a Google spokesper­son told CNBC in an email. “Our rat­ing guide­lines are pub­licly vis­i­ble for all to see.”

    Still, the issue has split the nation’s major polit­i­cal par­ties, with top Democ­rats claim­ing that there’s no evi­dence to sup­port the GOP gripe.

    “What they did to me on Twit­ter is incred­i­ble,” Trump added on Wednes­day. “I have mil­lions and mil­lions of fol­low­ers, but I will tell you, they make it very hard for peo­ple to join me in Twit­ter and they make it very much hard­er for me to get out the mes­sage.”

    Twit­ter and Face­book have dou­bled down on efforts to remove com­ments and accounts sus­pect­ed of hate speech as well as those thought to be bots since the 2016 elec­tion. That’s drawn ire from Trump and con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans, who claim that social media giants like Face­book and Twit­ter sti­fle con­ser­v­a­tive mes­sag­ing and accounts.

    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ear­li­er this year blast­ed Google, Face­book and Twit­ter over alle­ga­tions that they cen­sor con­ser­v­a­tive con­tent, and he threat­ened fed­er­al reg­u­la­tion to over­see that mes­sag­ing is being treat­ed fair­ly.

    “If we have tech com­pa­nies using the pow­ers of monop­oly to cen­sor polit­i­cal speech, I think that rais­es real antitrust issues,” Cruz said at a Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing.

    Some Democ­rats, such as pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Eliz­a­beth War­ren, said Face­book in March removed ads that her cam­paign placed call­ing for the company’s breakup.

    “I want a social media mar­ket­place that isn’t dom­i­nat­ed by a sin­gle cen­sor,” she said.

    As for the pres­i­dent, Trump has sev­er­al tweets that vio­late twitter’s poli­cies, but he’s allowed to keep his account because of his sta­tus as a major pub­lic fig­ure. The social media com­pa­ny has debat­ed label­ing tweets from major pub­lic fig­ures that vio­late its rules against bul­ly­ing and harass­ment.

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment is report­ed­ly plan­ning an antitrust inves­ti­ga­tion into Alphabet’s Google sub­sidiary. Though Google has faced antitrust head­winds in the past, the reports last month came amid bipar­ti­san con­cern over the pow­er such com­pa­nies have over pub­lic life.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump says big tech com­pa­nies like Twit­ter are ‘all Democ­rats’ and pur­pose­ly repress­ing his reach” by Thomas Franck; CNBC; 06/26/2019

    ““Twit­ter is just ter­ri­ble, what they do. They don’t let you get the word out,” Trump told Fox Busi­ness Net­work. “I’ll tell you what, they should be sued because what’s hap­pen­ing with the bias — and now you see it with that exec­u­tive yes­ter­day from Google. The hatred for the Repub­li­cans: It’s not even like ‘Gee! Let’s lean Demo­c­rat.’””

    Trump can’t use Twit­ter to ‘get the word out’. He seri­ous­ly claimed this. Then he com­plained about a drop off in fol­low­ers, prompt­ing Twit­ter to point out that many promi­nent fig­ures have seen the num­ber of their fol­low­ers drop as a result a dri­ve to remove fake accounts and accounts push­ing hate speech. So Trump is basi­cal­ly upset that he’s not allowed to puff up his fol­low­ing with bots and Nazis:

    ...
    Twit­ter reit­er­at­ed via email on Wednes­day that its focus is on improv­ing the health of its plat­form — includ­ing the removal of fake accounts to pre­vent mali­cious activ­i­ty — and that many promi­nent fig­ures have seen fol­low­er counts drop as a result.

    ...

    “What they did to me on Twit­ter is incred­i­ble,” Trump added on Wednes­day. “I have mil­lions and mil­lions of fol­low­ers, but I will tell you, they make it very hard for peo­ple to join me in Twit­ter and they make it very much hard­er for me to get out the mes­sage.”

    Twit­ter and Face­book have dou­bled down on efforts to remove com­ments and accounts sus­pect­ed of hate speech as well as those thought to be bots since the 2016 elec­tion. That’s drawn ire from Trump and con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans, who claim that social media giants like Face­book and Twit­ter sti­fle con­ser­v­a­tive mes­sag­ing and accounts.
    ...

    And note how Trump is actu­al­ly allowed to vio­late the rules specif­i­cal­ly because he’s a major pub­lic fig­ure. So Trump is lit­er­al­ly get­ting spe­cial treat­ment that allows him to ‘get the mes­sage out’ even when the ‘mes­sage’ vio­lates Twit­ter’s rules against things like bul­ly­ing and harass­ment:

    ...
    As for the pres­i­dent, Trump has sev­er­al tweets that vio­late twitter’s poli­cies, but he’s allowed to keep his account because of his sta­tus as a major pub­lic fig­ure. The social media com­pa­ny has debat­ed label­ing tweets from major pub­lic fig­ures that vio­late its rules against bul­ly­ing and harass­ment.
    ...

    So that was Trump’s lat­est gaslight­ing ‘work­ing the refs’ stunt on Wednes­day. The next day Twit­ter had an update to its spe­cial rules for pub­lic fig­ures like Trump: Trump is still allowed to break Twit­ter’s rules, but when he does the tweet will get a warn­ing. It’s Twit­ter’s new pol­i­cy for gov­ern­ment offi­cials with at least 100,000 fol­low­ers. They can bul­ly and harass and threat­en vio­lence because their state­ments are deemed news­wor­thy by virtue of their sta­tus as world lead­ers. So Trump and all the oth­er elect­ed Repub­li­cans just got for­mal approval to ‘get the mes­sage out’ even when ‘the mes­sage’ breaks Twit­ters rules like threat­en­ing vio­lence against an indi­vid­ual or group:

    Ars Tech­ni­ca

    Twit­ter clar­i­fies spe­cial rules for tweets by world lead­ers like Trump
    “We’ve allowed cer­tain tweets that vio­lat­ed our rules,” Twit­ter acknowl­edges.

    Tim­o­thy B. Lee — 6/27/2019, 4:15 PM

    Twit­ter’s rules state that “you may not threat­en vio­lence against an indi­vid­ual or a group of peo­ple.” So when US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweet­ed in Jan­u­ary 2018 that he had a “nuclear but­ton” that was “much big­ger & more pow­er­ful” than the nuclear but­ton of North Kore­an dic­ta­tor Kim Jong Un and (a few months ear­li­er) that North Korea “won’t be around much longer” if it con­tin­ued its bel­li­cose rhetoric, crit­ics asked Twit­ter to take the tweets down for vio­lat­ing Twit­ter’s rules.

    Twit­ter reject­ed those calls. Instead, the social media giant argued that the words of world lead­ers are news­wor­thy and that such news­wor­thi­ness can trump rules that might oth­er­wise apply. But activists have kept up the pres­sure on Twit­ter. So now the com­pa­ny has rolled out a new pol­i­cy to deal with this kind of sit­u­a­tion.

    “In the past, we’ve allowed cer­tain tweets that vio­lat­ed our rules to remain on Twit­ter because they were in the pub­lic’s inter­est, but it was­n’t clear when and how we made those deter­mi­na­tions,” a Thurs­day blog post says. “To fix that, we’re intro­duc­ing a new notice that will pro­vide addi­tion­al clar­i­ty in these sit­u­a­tions.”

    ...

    This won’t just be a tag next to the tweet—users will have to click through the notice before they can see the tweet itself.

    The new sys­tem will only apply to gov­ern­ment offi­cials with ver­i­fied accounts and more than 100,000 fol­low­ers. That includes Don­ald Trump and a num­ber of oth­er offi­cials, both in the Unit­ed States and over­seas. Twit­ter will take oth­er steps to lim­it the dis­tri­b­u­tion of tweets that receive this kind of notice. They won’t be fea­tured as top tweets on a user’s Twit­ter time­line, in “safe search” results, or in “rec­om­mend­ed tweet” push noti­fi­ca­tions.

    “This notice won’t be applied to any Tweets sent before today and, giv­en the con­di­tions out­lined above, it’s unlike­ly you’ll encounter it often,” Twit­ter says. “We can­not pre­dict the first time it will be used.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Twit­ter clar­i­fies spe­cial rules for tweets by world lead­ers like Trump” by Tim­o­thy B. Lee; Ars Tech­ni­ca; 06/27/2019

    ““In the past, we’ve allowed cer­tain tweets that vio­lat­ed our rules to remain on Twit­ter because they were in the pub­lic’s inter­est, but it was­n’t clear when and how we made those deter­mi­na­tions,” a Thurs­day blog post says. “To fix that, we’re intro­duc­ing a new notice that will pro­vide addi­tion­al clar­i­ty in these sit­u­a­tions.””

    It’s offi­cial: Trump can bul­ly, harass, and threat­en all the vio­lence he wants on Twit­ter, along with the rest of the GOP gov­ern­ment offi­cials. But there might be note about how the tweet broke the rules. That’s it.

    How will Trump and the GOP respond to this rule change? Pre­sum­ably with a bunch of tweets about how Twit­ter is rigged against them. We’ll see.

    So gov­ern­ment offi­cials get spe­cial treat­ment on Twit­ter, but let’s not for­get that it’s not just Trump and GOP offi­cials com­plain­ing about their treat­ment on these plat­forms. The ‘Alt Right’ in gen­er­al is con­stant­ly com­plain­ing about their treat­ment on social media. For exam­ple, here’s a pair of arti­cles about anoth­er exam­ple of how right-wing social media posts that vio­late plat­form rules are giv­en spe­cial treat­ment. Fit­ting­ly, it revolves around the Red­dit forum “r/The_Donald”. That’s the Red­dit forum for hard core Trump fans known to be infest­ed with ‘Alt Right’ neo-Nazis.

    Keep in mind that Red­dit forums are large­ly mod­er­at­ed by vol­un­teers, so r/The_Donald is going to be mod­er­at­ed by Trump fans. Red­dit’s own mod­er­a­tors are large­ly watch­ing to ensure the vol­un­teer mod­er­a­tors are actu­al­ly enforc­ing the rules. And, sur­prise!, it turns out numer­ous users on r/The_Donald forum have been post­ing mes­sages encour­ag­ing vio­lence against law enforce­ment and gov­ern­ment offi­cials in response to the stunt pulled by the Ore­gon GOP state sen­a­tors who recent­ly fled the state in order to block cli­mate change leg­is­la­tion and enlist­ed the help of mili­tia mem­bers.

    So what’s Red­dit’s response to the threats of vio­lence? Well, Red­dit has banned sub­red­dits entire­ly for vio­lent post­ings, but in this case it only respond­ed to the vio­lent post­ings fol­low­ing a report by Media Mat­ters high­light­ing the posts and then basi­cal­ly did the same thing Twit­ter did: The r/The_Donald sub­red­dit will be “quar­an­tined”, which means peo­ple will see a warn­ing before enter­ing that forum. That’s pret­ty much it:

    The Verge

    Red­dit quar­an­tines Trump sub­red­dit r/The_Donald for vio­lent com­ments

    By Adi Robert­son
    Jun 26, 2019, 2:10pm EDT

    Red­dit has placed the con­tro­ver­sial Don­ald Trump-focused sub­red­dit r/The_Donald behind a quar­an­tine screen after “repeat­ed” mis­be­hav­ior that includes incit­ing vio­lence. A mod­er­a­tor post­ed an explana­to­ry mes­sage from Red­dit, which has asked mod­er­a­tors to make it clear that “vio­lent con­tent is unac­cept­able” on the forum. The move comes two days after Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca not­ed that r/The_Donald mem­bers were sup­port­ing vio­lent attacks on Ore­gon police and oth­er pub­lic offi­cials.

    ...

    Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca point­ed out posts where r/The_Donald mem­bers fan­ta­sized about or encour­aged vio­lence relat­ed to Oregon’s recent cli­mate change vote where Repub­li­can law­mak­ers fled the state Sen­ate to pre­vent a cli­mate change bill from pass­ing, one of them even imply­ing that he would respond to any police action with vio­lence. r/The_Donald mem­bers post­ed com­ments like “none of this gets fixed with­out peo­ple pick­ing up rifles” and “[I have] no prob­lems shoot­ing a cop try­ing to strip rights from Cit­i­zens.” The posts were lat­er removed.

    The Red­dit post describes the quar­an­tine as the result of repeat­ed rule-break­ing, call­ing out r/The_Donald’s recent “encour­age­ment of vio­lence” against Ore­gon­ian offi­cials.

    Over the last few months we have observed repeat­ed rule-break­ing behav­ior in your com­mu­ni­ty and an over-reliance on Red­dit admins to man­age users and remove posts that vio­late our con­tent pol­i­cy, includ­ing con­tent that encour­ages or incites vio­lence. Most recent­ly, we have observed this behav­ior in the form of encour­age­ment of vio­lence towards police offi­cers and pub­lic offi­cials in Ore­gon. This is not only in vio­la­tion of our site-wide poli­cies, but also your own com­mu­ni­ty rules (rule #9). You can find vio­lat­ing con­tent that we removed in your mod logs.

    As we have dis­cussed in the past, and as detailed in our con­tent pol­i­cy and mod­er­a­tor guide­lines, we expect you to enforce against rule-break­ing con­tent. You’ve made progress over the last year, but we con­tin­ue to observe and take action on a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of rule-break­ing behav­ior in this com­mu­ni­ty. We rec­og­nize that you do remove posts that are report­ed, but we are trou­bled that vio­lent con­tent more often goes unre­port­ed, and worse, is upvot­ed.

    r/The_Donald has been cen­sured for rule-break­ing in the past. In 2016, Red­dit CEO Steve Huff­man said the site would hide some posts from the sub­red­dit, pre­vent­ing them from mak­ing it to the front page. But its polit­i­cal rel­e­vance and pop­u­lar­i­ty have made it a dif­fi­cult tar­get. Huff­man lat­er called it “a small part of a large prob­lem we face in this coun­try — that a large part of the pop­u­la­tion feels unheard, and the last thing we’re going to do is take their voice away.”

    Red­dit long resist­ed ban­ning or quar­an­ti­ning sub­red­dits, even ones explic­it­ly devot­ed to white suprema­cy or oth­er hate con­tent. But it’s changed that pol­i­cy in recent years. It banned forums relat­ed to the QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry in 2018, and it’s quar­an­tined or purged oth­er far-right sub­red­dits.

    r/The_Donald, for its part, hasn’t been banned. The quar­an­tine is a large­ly sym­bol­ic ges­ture. In Reddit’s words, “vis­i­tors to this com­mu­ni­ty will see a warn­ing that requires users to explic­it­ly opt-in to view­ing it. This mes­sag­ing reminds users of the impor­tance of report­ing rule-break­ing con­tent.” It will be reeval­u­at­ed if the mod­er­a­tors “unam­bigu­ous­ly com­mu­ni­cate to your sub­scribers that vio­lent con­tent is unac­cept­able.”

    ———-

    “Red­dit quar­an­tines Trump sub­red­dit r/The_Donald for vio­lent com­ments” by Adi Robert­son; The Verge; 06/26/2019

    r/The_Donald, for its part, hasn’t been banned. The quar­an­tine is a large­ly sym­bol­ic ges­ture. In Reddit’s words, “vis­i­tors to this com­mu­ni­ty will see a warn­ing that requires users to explic­it­ly opt-in to view­ing it. This mes­sag­ing reminds users of the impor­tance of report­ing rule-break­ing con­tent.” It will be reeval­u­at­ed if the mod­er­a­tors “unam­bigu­ous­ly com­mu­ni­cate to your sub­scribers that vio­lent con­tent is unac­cept­able.””

    A large­ly sym­bol­ic ‘quar­an­tine’ that con­sists of a warn­ing mes­sage. And note how Red­dit cit­ed the repeat­ed rule-break­ing behav­ior in the forum, high­light­ing how r/The_Donald appears to get spe­cial treat­ment. It keeps break­ing the rules and only after Media Mat­ters wrote its arti­cle did Red­dit do any­thing. And in Red­dit’s expla­na­tion it points out that it has observed r/The_Donald users not just post­ing vio­lent con­tent in recent months but actu­al­ly up-vot­ing the con­tent. In oth­er words, this recent explo­sion of vio­lent posts in response to the Ore­gon fias­co is mere­ly the lat­est instance of an ongo­ing pat­tern of vio­lat­ing Red­dit’s rules and it was only after Media Mat­ters report­ed on it that Red­dit did any­thing about it:

    ...
    The Red­dit post describes the quar­an­tine as the result of repeat­ed rule-break­ing, call­ing out r/The_Donald’s recent “encour­age­ment of vio­lence” against Ore­gon­ian offi­cials.

    Over the last few months we have observed repeat­ed rule-break­ing behav­ior in your com­mu­ni­ty and an over-reliance on Red­dit admins to man­age users and remove posts that vio­late our con­tent pol­i­cy, includ­ing con­tent that encour­ages or incites vio­lence. Most recent­ly, we have observed this behav­ior in the form of encour­age­ment of vio­lence towards police offi­cers and pub­lic offi­cials in Ore­gon. This is not only in vio­la­tion of our site-wide poli­cies, but also your own com­mu­ni­ty rules (rule #9). You can find vio­lat­ing con­tent that we removed in your mod logs.

    As we have dis­cussed in the past, and as detailed in our con­tent pol­i­cy and mod­er­a­tor guide­lines, we expect you to enforce against rule-break­ing con­tent. You’ve made progress over the last year, but we con­tin­ue to observe and take action on a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of rule-break­ing behav­ior in this com­mu­ni­ty. We rec­og­nize that you do remove posts that are report­ed, but we are trou­bled that vio­lent con­tent more often goes unre­port­ed, and worse, is upvot­ed.

    ...

    So how explic­it­ly vio­lent were the offend­ing posts? As the Media Mat­ters report makes clear, the posts were open calls for a vio­lent insur­rec­tion and the shoot­ing of law enforce­ment. It was­n’t sub­tle:

    Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca

    A pro-Trump sub­red­dit is full of calls for vio­lence in sup­port of Ore­gon Repub­li­cans

    ALEX KAPLAN
    June 24, 2019 2:45 PM EDT

    Users on “The_Donald,” a promi­nent sub­red­dit for sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, have repeat­ed­ly issued calls for vio­lence in response to Oregon’s gov­er­nor call­ing for law enforce­ment to bring back Repub­li­can state sen­a­tors who fled the state so the state sen­ate would­n’t have the quo­rum to pass cli­mate change action. Despite Reddit’s pol­i­cy bar­ring con­tent that “encour­ages, glo­ri­fies, incites, or calls for vio­lence or phys­i­cal harm,” users have post­ed mes­sages claim­ing that vio­lence is “the only way we’re going to get any peace in our lives” and that it’s “good” to “threat­en vio­lence,” have urged oth­ers to “stock upon that ammo,” and have writ­ten that they would “help” with “shoot­ing a cop try­ing to strip rights from Cit­i­zens.”

    Update (6/26/19): Red­dit has now quar­an­tined “The_Donald” due to “threats of vio­lence against police and pub­lic offi­cials,” mean­ing the sub­red­dit will now “gen­er­ate no rev­enue,” “not appear in non-sub­scrip­tion-based feeds (eg Pop­u­lar),” and won’t be “includ­ed in search or rec­om­men­da­tions.”

    Update (6/25/19): All com­ments cit­ed in this piece except for one have been removed since pub­li­ca­tion and most have been replaced with the mes­sage: “Com­ment removed by mod­er­a­tor.”

    Red­dit pro­hibits con­tent that “encour­ages,” “incites,” or “calls for vio­lence,” and the site has pre­vi­ous­ly banned sub­red­dits for vio­lat­ing that pol­i­cy

    Red­dit: “Do not post con­tent that encour­ages, glo­ri­fies, incites, or calls for vio­lence or phys­i­cal harm.” Reddit’s “account and com­mu­ni­ty restric­tions” include a pro­hi­bi­tion of “con­tent that encour­ages, glo­ri­fies, incites, or calls for vio­lence or phys­i­cal harm against an indi­vid­ual or a group of peo­ple.” From the pol­i­cy:

    Do not post con­tent that encour­ages, glo­ri­fies, incites, or calls for vio­lence or phys­i­cal harm against an indi­vid­ual or a group of peo­ple; like­wise, do not post con­tent that glo­ri­fies or encour­ages the abuse of ani­mals. We under­stand there are some­times rea­sons to post vio­lent con­tent (e.g., edu­ca­tion­al, news­wor­thy, artis­tic, satire, doc­u­men­tary, etc.) so if you’re going to post some­thing vio­lent in nature that does not vio­late these terms, ensure you pro­vide con­text to the view­er so the rea­son for post­ing is clear.

    If your con­tent is bor­der­line, please use a NSFW tag. Even mild vio­lence can be dif­fi­cult for some­one to explain to oth­ers if they open it unex­pect­ed­ly. [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    Red­dit has pre­vi­ous­ly banned mul­ti­ple sub­red­dits in vio­la­tion of this pol­i­cy. Red­dit “shut down sev­er­al Nazi and white suprema­cist sub­red­dits” in 2017 after its pol­i­cy came into effect, accord­ing to The Verge. In 2018, the site banned the largest sub­red­dit ded­i­cat­ed to the Qanon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, cit­ing “repeat­ed vio­la­tions of the terms” of its con­tent pol­i­cy, NBC News report­ed, not­ing that the forum was “host to a stream of vio­lent threats.” And on June 20, the plat­form banned the sub­red­dit “r/frenworld,” which “fea­tured racist and anti-Semit­ic Pepe the Frog-style car­toons,” with a spokesper­son say­ing it “vio­lat­ed rules against encour­ag­ing and glo­ri­fy­ing vio­lence,” accord­ing to The Dai­ly Beast reporter Will Som­mer. [The Verge, 10/25/17; NBC News, 9/12/18; Twit­ter, 6/20/19]

    Users of the sub­red­dit “The_Donald” have post­ed in sup­port of vio­lent­ly defend­ing Ore­gon GOP state sen­a­tors against law enforce­ment

    ...

    Users on the sub­red­dit “The_Donald” have post­ed calls to vio­lence and sup­port for the armed mili­tias. In response to reports about mili­tias’ pledges to defend GOP leg­is­la­tors from being com­pelled by law enforce­ment to attend leg­isla­tive ses­sions, mul­ti­ple users on the sub­red­dit “The_Donald” issued calls for vio­lence to help the law­mak­ers, along with issu­ing sup­port for the mili­tias.

    * A user wrote, “None of this gets fixed with­out peo­ple pick­ing up rifles,” to which anoth­er user respond­ed, “If that’s what it takes for us and our mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ty to be heard I sup­pose it may become nec­es­sary soon­er than we think.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user wrote, “Rifles are the only way we’re going to get any peace in our lives ever again,” adding, “It’s either war and we get rid of these guys or a life­time of lis­ten­ing to this shit over and over again start get­ting your­self ready.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user wrote, “There is only one way to get rid of a dic­ta­tor­ship like this. You don’t want to acknowl­edge it and they made it ille­gal to do so but you have a choice — bite the bul­let or let the col­lapse fall onto your kids instead of you.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user called for “burn[ing] Port­land and Eugene to the ground.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * Cit­ing the Sec­ond Amend­ment, anoth­er user crit­i­cized the lack of armed action from oth­ers “against gov­ern­ment tyrany,” adding, “Now there is proven gov­ern­ment tyrany and you do noth­ing?”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user wrote, “Hope­ful­ly all State Police in Ore­gon refuse, hes seri­ous. No prob­lems shoot­ing a cop try­ing to strip rights from Cit­i­zens. If he calls for help I’d come.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user called for “more mili­tia men in Ore­gon. Michi­gan, Ida­ho, Wash­ing­ton, Neva­da, Utah, Col­orado,” adding, “You know what to do. Flood Ore­gon and take over Port­land. Let’s make this hap­pen.”
    [see screen­shot]

    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user wrote, “Every­one needs to start get­ting into shape, sharp­en­ing up your marks­man­ship and learn­ing the ins and outs of all your fire arms. Stock upon that ammo too.”
    [see screen­shot]

    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * Anoth­er user wrote that it was “good” to “threat­en vio­lence … because noth­ing else is work­ing.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user wrote in response to the governor’s order, “Tree of Lib­er­ty seems thirsty,” a ref­er­ence to for­mer Pres­i­dent Thomas Jefferson’s quote that “the tree of lib­er­ty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patri­ots & tyrants.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    * A user wrote that they were “at the point where I hope [vio­lence] hap­pens” as a “cat­a­lyst to purge their ide­ol­o­gy from gov­ern­ment.” Regard­ing the governor’s order, anoth­er user wrote: “The soap box has been for­bid­den to be used. The bal­lot box has been abused. The ammo box is what they then choose.”
    [see screen­shot]
    [Red­dit, accessed 6/24/19]

    ———-

    “A pro-Trump sub­red­dit is full of calls for vio­lence in sup­port of Ore­gon Repub­li­cans” by ALEX KAPLAN; Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca; 06/24/2019

    “Red­dit pro­hibits con­tent that “encour­ages,” “incites,” or “calls for vio­lence,” and the site has pre­vi­ous­ly banned sub­red­dits for vio­lat­ing that pol­i­cy

    As we can see, some sub­red­dits (forums) get banned for repeat­ed vio­la­tions of the pol­i­cy against calls for vio­lence. But not r/The_Donald. That forum gets to repeat­ed­ly ignore the rules and it’s only after Media Mat­ters doc­u­ments numer­ous calls for an armed insur­rec­tion that the forum gets punished...with a slap on the wrist in the form of a ‘quar­an­tine’ that is entire­ly sym­bol­ic.

    It’s anoth­er exam­ple of how the far right is indeed cor­rect when they com­plain about being treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly by the tech giants. It just hap­pens to be spe­cial def­er­en­tial treat­ment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 28, 2019, 11:19 am
  19. In the wake of the deci­sion yes­ter­day by Cloud­flare to remove its denial of ser­vice attack pro­tec­tion ser­vices for 8chan fol­low­ing the neo-Nazi domes­tic ter­ror attack in El Paso, TX, here’s an SPLC Hate­watch report from back in June about anoth­er impor­tant ele­ment of the the online pro­pa­gan­da infra­struc­ture used to rad­i­cal­ized, recruit, and encour­age ‘lone wolf’ neo-Nazi mass mur­der­ers: Telegram, the encrypt­ed mes­sag­ing app.

    Telegram has around 200 mil­lion dai­ly users world­wide so this is a very main­stream app. Telegram has both pub­licly avail­able and encrypt­ed modes of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Hate­watch exam­ined just the pub­licly avail­able mes­sag­ing chan­nels and found that Telegram has mul­ti­ple chan­nels devot­ed to “ter­ror­wave”, the term for inter­net-based pro­pa­gan­da that glo­ri­fies polit­i­cal vio­lence through the use of heav­i­ly styl­ized, cyber­punk aes­thet­ics.

    Worse, Hate­watch found that chan­nel mod­er­a­tors them­selves were urg­ing fol­low­ers to “desta­bi­lize the US,” “kill the cops,” “shoot law­mak­ers” and attack syn­a­gogues, mosques and oth­er hous­es of wor­ship. Again, that’s what the mod­er­a­tors were encour­ag­ing on the pub­licly avail­able chan­nels. Past neo-Nazi ter­ror­ists like Dylann Roof are hailed as heros and referred to “Saint Roof”. One chan­nel, oper­at­ed by the pro­duc­ers of the “Bowl­cast” (named after Roof’s bowl hair­cut), posts the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of activists and jour­nal­ists includ­ing address­es and phone num­bers. So they aren’t just gener­i­cal­ly encour­ag­ing mass ter­ror attacks but also pro­vid­ing lists of tar­gets.

    Some of the peo­ple who run these chan­nels were pre­vi­ous­ly ‘pro-Trump’ online fig­ures before get­ting kicked off oth­er social media plat­forms. Jared Wyand, a Geor­gia-based white suprema­cist, accu­mu­lat­ing over 100,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers as a Pro-Trump Twit­ter per­sona before being sus­pend­ed in Decem­ber 2016 for post­ing anti­se­mit­ic com­men­tary. And Paul Nehlen was at one point a Trump-backed ris­ing star in the Repub­li­can Par­ty before he out­ed him­self as a vio­lent neo-Nazi. So these would be exam­ples of peo­ple who would have already had a sub­stan­tial online fol­low­ing before shift­ing to Telegram and open­ly pro­mot­ing domes­tic ter­ror.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, regard­ing the ongo­ing ques­tion of whether or not the far right is inten­tion­al­ly attack­ing the US pow­er grid, one of exam­ples Hate­watch found of how the posts on these chan­nels would use sar­casm and humor as a kind of rhetor­i­cal shield for what they were advo­cat­ing, one user post­ed, “Do not do any of these things. Espe­cial­ly do not cov­er your face and destroy the many, and large­ly unpro­tect­ed, pow­er sta­tions and cell tow­ers. Elec­tric­i­ty is a ghost, but one you can catch and kill. Do not do that. Do not become the sort of per­son who is real­ly good at blow­ing up pow­er plants with­out get­ting caught.

    After Hate­watch noti­fied the tech com­pa­nies that dis­trib­ute the Telegram app for their smart­phones (Apple, Microsoft, and Google) about the var­i­ous chan­nels that were open­ly pro­mot­ing ter­ror attacks, a minor­i­ty of the chan­nels were ren­dered inac­ces­si­ble on devices cre­at­ed by Apple and Microsoft, but not Google. So it appears that the tech com­pa­nies have the option to cut off access to spe­cif­ic chan­nels if they want to but most­ly choose not to even when the SPLC hands them a list. In oth­er words, it’s tech­ni­cal­ly pos­si­ble to cut off just the offend­ing chan­nels on Telegram with­out tak­ing down the entire plat­form, which should make the removal of these chan­nels a lot less con­tro­ver­sial. While the issue of how aggres­sive­ly tech com­pa­nies should be polic­ing the free-speech of plat­forms is under­stand­ably a del­i­cate top­ic even in the face of a wild­ly suc­cess­ful online neo-Nazi domes­tic ter­ror pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign, it seems like the Telegram chan­nels where they open­ly call for ter­ror attacks and post lists of assas­si­na­tion tar­gets should be pret­ty uncon­tro­ver­sial tar­gets for cen­sor­ship for com­pa­nies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google. And yet, it sounds like the com­pa­nies were actu­al­ly pret­ty hes­i­tant to block those chan­nels and Google did­n’t block any of them:

    South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter
    Hate­watch

    Far-Right Extrem­ists Are Call­ing for Ter­ror­ism on the Mes­sag­ing App Telegram

    Neo-Nazis, white nation­al­ists and antigov­ern­ment extrem­ists are pub­lish­ing vol­umes of pro­pa­gan­da advo­cat­ing ter­ror­ism and mass shoot­ings on Telegram, a Hate­watch review of hun­dreds of chan­nels on that app reveals.

    Michael Edi­son Hay­den
    June 27, 2019

    Hate­watch exam­ined pub­licly vis­i­ble posts on the mes­sag­ing app in which chan­nel mod­er­a­tors urge their fol­low­ers to “desta­bi­lize the US,” “kill the cops,” “shoot law­mak­ers” and attack syn­a­gogues, mosques and oth­er hous­es of wor­ship.

    Hate­watch noti­fied tech com­pa­nies that dis­trib­ute Telegram about the con­tent on that plat­form that appears to advo­cate ter­ror­ism. Dur­ing that time, a minor­i­ty of the chan­nels flagged by Hate­watch were ren­dered inac­ces­si­ble on devices cre­at­ed by Apple and Microsoft, but not Google. Hate­watch, as of this writ­ing, was able to view the major­i­ty of chan­nels we found advo­cat­ing ter­ror on all devices that sup­port Telegram.

    Peo­ple in the same Telegram chan­nels reviewed by Hate­watch fre­quent­ly post memes glo­ri­fy­ing ter­ror­ists such as Anders Breivik, the man who killed 77 peo­ple in a Nor­we­gian ter­ror attack in 2011, and Dylann Roof, a South Car­oli­na man who mur­dered nine black church­go­ers in 2015.

    Telegram users also praise Robert Bow­ers. Bow­ers has been charged with fed­er­al hate crimes after 11 peo­ple were killed in a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue shoot­ing in 2018. The same Telegram users also typ­i­cal­ly praise the man who stands accused of killing 51 Mus­lims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019. Author­i­ties have asked the media not to use the man’s name, which is why Hate­watch chose not to pub­lish it in this sto­ry.

    Telegram has mul­ti­ple chan­nels devot­ed to so-called ter­ror­wave, which refers to inter­net-based pro­pa­gan­da that glo­ri­fies polit­i­cal vio­lence through the use of heav­i­ly styl­ized, cyber­punk aes­thet­ics.

    One meme post­ed to a group like this on June 17, the fourth anniver­sary of Roof’s mur­ders, showed a pho­to­graph of the book SIEGE by neo-Nazi James Mason. Mason encour­aged his read­ers to embrace ter­ror­ism in the name of desta­bi­liz­ing West­ern coun­tries, which he believed would give rise to a new coun­try for only white, non-Jews. Words are lay­ered on top of the book that say things like “READ SIEGE” and “HAIL TERROR.”

    “One last hail to Saint Roof,” the chan­nel mod­er­a­tor wrote on the anniver­sary of Roof’s mur­ders. “May today and every­day be a pleas­ant one for him. He’s earned it.”

    Paul Nehlen, the for­mer GOP can­di­date for Con­gress in Wis­con­sin turned advo­cate of polit­i­cal vio­lence, posts imagery in his chan­nel that glo­ri­fies white ter­ror­ists, alleged or oth­er­wise, as “saints.”

    The pro­duc­ers of the pod­cast “Bowl­cast,” named after the style of hair­cut worn by Roof, oper­ate a chan­nel that posts sim­i­lar imagery as well as per­son­al infor­ma­tion of activists and reporters, includ­ing address­es and phone num­bers.

    Jared Wyand, a Geor­gia-based white suprema­cist, appeared to advo­cate a race war on a Telegram chan­nel he oper­ates. Wyand amassed over 100,000 fol­low­ers as a Pro-Trump Twit­ter per­sona before being sus­pend­ed from that site in Decem­ber 2016 for post­ing anti­se­mit­ic com­men­tary.

    “Men, you have one sim­ple task in the imme­di­ate. Arm your­selves. Train pro­fi­cien­cy with your firearms. Build a stock­pile of ammo,” Wyand wrote to his Telegram fol­low­ers June 7. “If you’ve already done this, push the men you know to do the same. Every­one is ask­ing what can be done. This is step one. You owe it to me and all White men to be capa­ble and ready the day you’re asked to join ranks and take up arms.”

    Telegram users in chan­nels that pro­mote ter­ror also dis­cuss weapon­ry, includ­ing the sub­ject of build­ing guns with 3D print­ers and home­made meth­ods. A Telegram chan­nel mod­er­a­tor in a group that men­tions Mason’s book SIEGE in its title post­ed instruc­tions on how to build a “slap gun,” which he described as being a makeshift replace­ment for a shot­gun.

    “It’s easy to 3D print a firearm,” the user wrote, before shar­ing an instruc­tion man­u­al for the device and a demon­stra­tion video shot in the Ukraine. “It’s eas­i­er to make a shot­gun using two lengths of pipe, a nail, and a bit of weld­ing.”

    Telegram tracks the num­ber of peo­ple who see a par­tic­u­lar post with a small track­er, marked with an eye. Over 2,000 Telegram users viewed the gun-mak­ing instruc­tions with­in 48 hours.

    On June 20, a pseu­do­ny­mous Telegram user going by the han­dle “Choke Me Dad­dy” post­ed a pic­ture of a man wear­ing a skull mask, which is asso­ci­at­ed with con­tem­po­rary neo-Nazi cul­ture. The man point­ed to what looked like a series of pow­er lines across a met­al fence. The lan­guage in the post offers an exam­ple of how some white suprema­cists appear to endorse vio­lence and ter­ror­ism while also couch­ing their words in irony and in-jokes based around negat­ing that sen­ti­ment.

    “Please note,” Choke Me Dad­dy wrote. “Do not do any of these things. Espe­cial­ly do not cov­er your face and destroy the many, and large­ly unpro­tect­ed, pow­er sta­tions and cell tow­ers. Elec­tric­i­ty is a ghost, but one you can catch and kill. Do not do that. Do not become the sort of per­son who is real­ly good at blow­ing up pow­er plants with­out get­ting caught.

    Bran­don Rus­sell, the founder of Atom­waf­fen Divi­sion, a con­tem­po­rary neo-Nazi group, alleged­ly sought to blow up pow­er lines and places of wor­ship before being con­vict­ed for build­ing explo­sives in Jan­u­ary 2018.

    Mod­er­a­tors of neo-Nazi groups shared Choke Me Daddy’s post wide­ly across their chan­nels, and as a result, over 1,000 Telegram users viewed Choke Me Daddy’s post with­in 24 hours of it going live.

    Fol­low­ing ISIS’s lead toward a say-any­thing plat­form

    Crit­ics have raised alarms about groups like ISIS employ­ing Telegram to orga­nize and spread pro­pa­gan­da for years, but the influx of far-right con­tent advo­cat­ing ter­ror­ism is far more recent, accord­ing to Hatewatch’s analy­sis.

    An exten­sive report on ISIS’s Telegram usage pub­lished by George Wash­ing­ton University’s Pro­gram on Extrem­ism in June sug­gests the Islam­ic ter­ror group was using the mes­sag­ing app for sim­i­lar pur­pos­es as far back as 2015.

    Fol­low­ing ISIS-led attacks in Paris in Novem­ber 2015, Telegram also shut down hun­dreds of chan­nels linked to the group on the app. ISIS remains active on Telegram, accord­ing to the find­ings of George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty researchers.

    Andrew Anglin, the edi­tor of the neo-Nazi web­site Dai­ly Stormer, first made a pub­lic pitch to his audi­ence to embrace Telegram as an alter­na­tive to the gam­ing plat­form Dis­cord in an Aug. 31, 2018, sto­ry called “Please Stop Using Dis­cord. The SPLC is Mon­i­tor­ing You” – three years after ISIS embraced the app. The post appears to be among the first high-pro­file endorse­ments of Telegram with­in the white suprema­cist com­mu­ni­ty, based upon Hatewatch’s analy­sis.

    Anglin por­trayed Dis­cord, an app which grew pop­u­lar with the white suprema­cist “alt-right” move­ment in the lead-up to the “Unite the Right” ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, as being infil­trat­ed by antifas­cist activists, the media col­lec­tive Uni­corn Riot, South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter and oth­ers. He put forth Telegram as a more trust­wor­thy alter­na­tive to Dis­cord:

    [Telegram] does require a phone num­ber, but you can either buy a burn­er phone or get a Google Phone num­ber for free.

    Telegram allows you to have large “chan­nels” with lots of options for meme post­ing and the abil­i­ty for cus­tom emoti­cons. It is great soft­ware. You can also keep things pri­vate.

    There is a phone app and a desk­top app, both of which are very pol­ished.

    It also allows “secret chats” with end-to-end encryp­tion.

    They just refused to give their encryp­tion keys to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, and got banned in the entire coun­try (using some pret­ty extreme means) for it. So the secret encrypt­ed chats are safe. The chan­nels and non end-to-end chats are not that safe, but they’re hel­la safer than Dis­cord.

    Anglin refers in his endorse­ment of Telegram to the company’s con­flict with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment over its pri­va­cy poli­cies. Rus­sia has attempt­ed with mixed suc­cess to block Telegram and has opposed its usage because Telegram offers to pro­tect the pri­va­cy of its cit­i­zens. The gov­ern­ment of Iran has also made efforts to block the app for sim­i­lar rea­sons.

    Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, was born in Rus­sia but lives in Dubai. In response to pres­sure from the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, he posed shirt­less on Insta­gram in April 2018. He defied Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin with a state­ment in that post that said: “News from the front: Russ­ian author­i­ties have blocked 18 mil­lion IP address­es to ban Telegram, but the app remains acces­si­ble for Rus­sians. Thank you for all the sup­port and love #dig­i­tal­re­sis­tance #putin­shirt­less­chal­lenge.”

    Durov, who also cre­at­ed the Russ­ian Face­book clone VKon­tak­te (VK), lists his polit­i­cal beliefs on that web­site as “Lib­er­tar­i­an” and his reli­gion as “Lais­sez-faire,” refer­ring to the atti­tude of let­ting the free mar­ket func­tion with­out gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence. VK, it should be not­ed, also hosts pock­ets of open far-right extrem­ists on its plat­form, includ­ing Andrew “Weev” Auern­heimer of the Dai­ly Stormer, for exam­ple, and neo-Nazi Bil­ly Rop­er.

    Durov post­ed a visu­al ad for Telegram on VK in May 2018, which appeared to por­tray his users defeat­ing a fas­cist regime through the help of his app. The ad depicts car­toon bears fir­ing paper air­planes, which Telegram uses as its logo, as flags rem­i­nis­cent of those used by Nazi Ger­many dur­ing WWII burn in blue flames.

    The Proud Boys, which South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter lists as a hate group and is also active on Telegram, repost­ed a mes­sage from Durov’s chan­nel on June 25.

    “I see 3 mil­lion new users signed up for Telegram with­in the last 24 hours,” Durov wrote in the post shared by the Proud Boys. “Good. We have true pri­va­cy and unlim­it­ed space for every­one.”

    The poten­tial dan­gers of Telegram vs. oth­er plat­forms

    There are cru­cial dif­fer­ences between Telegram and oth­er plat­forms that pub­lish white suprema­cist pro­pa­gan­da, some of which poten­tial­ly make the app more dan­ger­ous, based upon Hatewatch’s analy­sis.

    For exam­ple, Telegram offers both pri­vate and pub­lic group chats. This means extrem­ists can con­nect in chan­nels that post pub­licly fac­ing pro­pa­gan­da and then orga­nize pri­vate­ly on the same app by using its encrypt­ed chat fea­ture, where plans to com­mit acts of ter­ror can go unde­tect­ed by law enforce­ment agen­cies. Although crit­ics have sug­gest­ed Telegram’s promis­es of secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions are overblown, the app is demon­stra­bly slick, func­tion­al and acces­si­ble on mobile devices.

    Gab, a small social net­work that has also attract­ed a wide swath of white suprema­cist users in recent years, includ­ing the alleged Tree of Life syn­a­gogue killer Bow­ers, has been plagued with glitch­es since its incep­tion. White suprema­cists have used its direct-mes­sage fea­ture to orga­nize, Hate­watch report­ed in Jan­u­ary, but the con­ver­sa­tions are not encrypt­ed. Gab has also strug­gled to pro­mote its social net­work effec­tive­ly on mobile devices, due to tech com­pa­nies drop­ping its app from their stores.

    8chan’s forum “pol” is anony­mous and doesn’t allow peo­ple who post pro­pa­gan­da to the forum to build the kind of per­son­al­i­ty-dri­ven cul­ture found on tra­di­tion­al social net­works like Twit­ter or Face­book. Both the alleged Christchurch ter­ror­ist and John Earnest, the man who accused of killing one in a syn­a­gogue in Poway, Cal­i­for­nia, in April, favored the forum.

    Telegram does allow white suprema­cist per­son­al­i­ties who either overt­ly advo­cate ter­ror­ism or appear to tac­it­ly endorse it to build an audi­ence for their dif­fer­ent brands of pro­pa­gan­da, as evi­denced by chan­nels belong­ing to Wyand, the mem­bers of “Bowl­cast” and Nehlen, for exam­ple.

    Per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between Telegram and fringe plat­forms like Gab and 8chan, how­ev­er, is the num­ber of peo­ple who use the app on a giv­en day. The com­pa­ny boast­ed in 2018 that it reach­es 200,000,000 active users. Even if the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of those users may like­ly avoid mak­ing con­tact with chan­nels that advo­cate ter­ror­ism, Telegram is demon­stra­bly main­stream and glob­al. It’s also dis­trib­uted through stores oper­at­ed by main­stream tech giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft.

    Tech com­pa­nies choose to respond to or ignore Hatewatch’s find­ings

    Hate­watch reached out to Telegram for a com­ment on the research con­duct­ed on white suprema­cists appear­ing to use their prod­uct to advo­cate com­mit­ting acts of ter­ror­ism. Hate­watch attempt­ed to make con­tact via text, email and final­ly phone at var­i­ous times over three weeks with­out receiv­ing a response.

    Google cur­rent­ly dis­trib­utes Telegram through the Google Play store. Hate­watch reached out to Google by email three times over the same three-week span with­out receiv­ing a response.

    Apple dis­trib­utes the Telegram app through its app store. Hate­watch engaged in con­ver­sa­tions with Apple mul­ti­ple times across the same three-week span regard­ing the con­tent we found on the app. Apple request­ed to review chan­nels in which Hate­watch found evi­dence of posts appear­ing to advo­cate ter­ror­ism. Dur­ing the report­ing peri­od, some of the chan­nels Hate­watch flagged, but not all, appeared to be inac­ces­si­ble to white suprema­cists on some Apple-brand­ed devices. Apple elect­ed not to issue a state­ment regard­ing the con­tent on Telegram flagged by Hate­watch.

    Microsoft dis­trib­utes Telegram through their Microsoft Store. They respond­ed to a request for com­ment about the con­tent flagged by Hate­watch with a state­ment:

    Microsoft Store offers a plat­form for devel­op­ers to pro­vide prod­ucts to cus­tomers world­wide. Con­tent in those prod­ucts and appli­ca­tions is con­trolled and main­tained by the devel­op­ers. Microsoft main­tains our crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant respon­si­bil­i­ty to ensure our Store is not abused by peo­ple or groups facil­i­tat­ing or glam­or­iz­ing extreme or gra­tu­itous vio­lence. If we receive and ver­i­fy a report that an app in Win­dows Store vio­lates our store con­tent poli­cies, we will ask the devel­op­er to remove the vio­lat­ing con­tent. If the devel­op­er fails to take appro­pri­ate action, we reserve the right to sus­pend or ter­mi­nate the developer’s app from the Store. We have informed Telegram of the pub­lic posts that vio­late our Microsoft Store Poli­cies. We have an estab­lished his­to­ry of enforce­ment against sim­i­lar issues.

    ...

    ———

    “Far-Right Extrem­ists Are Call­ing for Ter­ror­ism on the Mes­sag­ing App Telegram” by Michael Edi­son Hay­den; South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter Hate­watch; 06/27/2019

    “Telegram has mul­ti­ple chan­nels devot­ed to so-called ter­ror­wave, which refers to inter­net-based pro­pa­gan­da that glo­ri­fies polit­i­cal vio­lence through the use of heav­i­ly styl­ized, cyber­punk aes­thet­ics.”

    Mul­ti­ple chan­nels devot­ed to “ter­ror­wave”. That’s what Hate­watch found. Also keep in mind that Hate­watch was only able to see what was being dis­cussed in the unen­crypt­ed pub­licly avail­able Telegram chan­nels. The encrypt­ed chan­nels which are osten­si­bly inac­ces­si­ble to author­i­ties are pre­sum­ably far more explic­it in advo­cat­ing for ‘lone wolf’ ter­ror attacks. So it’s worth not­ing one of the fun facts about Telegram revealed by Wik­ileaks in March of 2017: the CIA found a way to bypass Telegram’s encryp­tion. It would be inter­est­ing to know if those capa­bil­i­ties are being used at all against these ter­ror­wave chan­nel mem­bers.

    Some of these ter­ror­wave chan­nels were head­ed by peo­ple who pre­vi­ous­ly had large online fol­low­ings on oth­er plat­forms, includ­ing for­mer GOP ris­ing star Paul Nehlen:

    ...
    One meme post­ed to a group like this on June 17, the fourth anniver­sary of Roof’s mur­ders, showed a pho­to­graph of the book SIEGE by neo-Nazi James Mason. Mason encour­aged his read­ers to embrace ter­ror­ism in the name of desta­bi­liz­ing West­ern coun­tries, which he believed would give rise to a new coun­try for only white, non-Jews. Words are lay­ered on top of the book that say things like “READ SIEGE” and “HAIL TERROR.”

    “One last hail to Saint Roof,” the chan­nel mod­er­a­tor wrote on the anniver­sary of Roof’s mur­ders. “May today and every­day be a pleas­ant one for him. He’s earned it.”

    Paul Nehlen, the for­mer GOP can­di­date for Con­gress in Wis­con­sin turned advo­cate of polit­i­cal vio­lence, posts imagery in his chan­nel that glo­ri­fies white ter­ror­ists, alleged or oth­er­wise, as “saints.”

    ...

    Jared Wyand, a Geor­gia-based white suprema­cist, appeared to advo­cate a race war on a Telegram chan­nel he oper­ates. Wyand amassed over 100,000 fol­low­ers as a Pro-Trump Twit­ter per­sona before being sus­pend­ed from that site in Decem­ber 2016 for post­ing anti­se­mit­ic com­men­tary.

    “Men, you have one sim­ple task in the imme­di­ate. Arm your­selves. Train pro­fi­cien­cy with your firearms. Build a stock­pile of ammo,” Wyand wrote to his Telegram fol­low­ers June 7. “If you’ve already done this, push the men you know to do the same. Every­one is ask­ing what can be done. This is step one. You owe it to me and all White men to be capa­ble and ready the day you’re asked to join ranks and take up arms.”
    ...

    The names and address­es of activists and reporters are also found on these chan­nels, so there are actu­al hit lists being dis­trib­uted:

    ...
    The pro­duc­ers of the pod­cast “Bowl­cast,” named after the style of hair­cut worn by Roof, oper­ate a chan­nel that posts sim­i­lar imagery as well as per­son­al infor­ma­tion of activists and reporters, includ­ing address­es and phone num­bers.
    ...

    And to get a sense of how many peo­ple are read­ing these chan­nels, Hate­watch found that over 2,000 peo­ple viewed a post describ­ing how to make a makeshift shot­gun with­in 48 hours. So 1,000 views a day for just that post. That’s a lot of neo-Nazis learn­ing how to make guns:

    ...
    Telegram users in chan­nels that pro­mote ter­ror also dis­cuss weapon­ry, includ­ing the sub­ject of build­ing guns with 3D print­ers and home­made meth­ods. A Telegram chan­nel mod­er­a­tor in a group that men­tions Mason’s book SIEGE in its title post­ed instruc­tions on how to build a “slap gun,” which he described as being a makeshift replace­ment for a shot­gun.

    “It’s easy to 3D print a firearm,” the user wrote, before shar­ing an instruc­tion man­u­al for the device and a demon­stra­tion video shot in the Ukraine. “It’s eas­i­er to make a shot­gun using two lengths of pipe, a nail, and a bit of weld­ing.”

    Telegram tracks the num­ber of peo­ple who see a par­tic­u­lar post with a small track­er, marked with an eye. Over 2,000 Telegram users viewed the gun-mak­ing instruc­tions with­in 48 hours.
    ...

    And then there’s the post jok­ing­ly describ­ing how to attack the pow­er grid:

    ...
    On June 20, a pseu­do­ny­mous Telegram user going by the han­dle “Choke Me Dad­dy” post­ed a pic­ture of a man wear­ing a skull mask, which is asso­ci­at­ed with con­tem­po­rary neo-Nazi cul­ture. The man point­ed to what looked like a series of pow­er lines across a met­al fence. The lan­guage in the post offers an exam­ple of how some white suprema­cists appear to endorse vio­lence and ter­ror­ism while also couch­ing their words in irony and in-jokes based around negat­ing that sen­ti­ment.

    “Please note,” Choke Me Dad­dy wrote. “Do not do any of these things. Espe­cial­ly do not cov­er your face and destroy the many, and large­ly unpro­tect­ed, pow­er sta­tions and cell tow­ers. Elec­tric­i­ty is a ghost, but one you can catch and kill. Do not do that. Do not become the sort of per­son who is real­ly good at blow­ing up pow­er plants with­out get­ting caught.

    Bran­don Rus­sell, the founder of Atom­waf­fen Divi­sion, a con­tem­po­rary neo-Nazi group, alleged­ly sought to blow up pow­er lines and places of wor­ship before being con­vict­ed for build­ing explo­sives in Jan­u­ary 2018.

    Mod­er­a­tors of neo-Nazi groups shared Choke Me Daddy’s post wide­ly across their chan­nels, and as a result, over 1,000 Telegram users viewed Choke Me Daddy’s post with­in 24 hours of it going live.
    ...

    And recall that Bran­don Rus­sell did­n’t sim­ply talk about blow­ing up pow­er lines. He want­ed to stage a mor­tar attack on a nuclear pow­er plant to cause a melt­down and depop­u­lat­ing South Flori­da for the pur­pose of set­ting up a Fourth Reich there.

    And how did the tech giants of Microsoft, Apple and Google respond when Hate­watch gave them a list of these ter­ror­wave Telegram chan­nels? Well, Microsoft issued a state­ment about how it informed Telegram of the offend­ing chan­nels and reserved the right to remove Telegram from its app store if Telegram does­n’t address their con­cerns. So that sounds like Microsoft was basi­cal­ly going to do noth­ing. Apple request­ed to review the ter­ror­wave chan­nels Hate­watch list­ed. Some of those chan­nels were dis­abled on Apple-made devices dur­ing this peri­od but Apple chose not to issue a state­ment to Hate­watch fol­low­ing its review. That seems to indi­cate that it’s pos­si­ble for these device man­u­fac­tur­ers to selec­tive­ly remove spe­cif­ic chan­nels with­out remov­ing the entire app. It’s unclear at this point of this chan­nels are cur­rent­ly avail­able or not on Apple-made devices. And Google ignored Hate­watch and its list of ter­ror­wave chan­nels entire­ly:

    ...
    Tech com­pa­nies choose to respond to or ignore Hatewatch’s find­ings

    Hate­watch reached out to Telegram for a com­ment on the research con­duct­ed on white suprema­cists appear­ing to use their prod­uct to advo­cate com­mit­ting acts of ter­ror­ism. Hate­watch attempt­ed to make con­tact via text, email and final­ly phone at var­i­ous times over three weeks with­out receiv­ing a response.

    Google cur­rent­ly dis­trib­utes Telegram through the Google Play store. Hate­watch reached out to Google by email three times over the same three-week span with­out receiv­ing a response.

    Apple dis­trib­utes the Telegram app through its app store. Hate­watch engaged in con­ver­sa­tions with Apple mul­ti­ple times across the same three-week span regard­ing the con­tent we found on the app. Apple request­ed to review chan­nels in which Hate­watch found evi­dence of posts appear­ing to advo­cate ter­ror­ism. Dur­ing the report­ing peri­od, some of the chan­nels Hate­watch flagged, but not all, appeared to be inac­ces­si­ble to white suprema­cists on some Apple-brand­ed devices. Apple elect­ed not to issue a state­ment regard­ing the con­tent on Telegram flagged by Hate­watch.

    Microsoft dis­trib­utes Telegram through their Microsoft Store. They respond­ed to a request for com­ment about the con­tent flagged by Hate­watch with a state­ment:

    Microsoft Store offers a plat­form for devel­op­ers to pro­vide prod­ucts to cus­tomers world­wide. Con­tent in those prod­ucts and appli­ca­tions is con­trolled and main­tained by the devel­op­ers. Microsoft main­tains our crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant respon­si­bil­i­ty to ensure our Store is not abused by peo­ple or groups facil­i­tat­ing or glam­or­iz­ing extreme or gra­tu­itous vio­lence. If we receive and ver­i­fy a report that an app in Win­dows Store vio­lates our store con­tent poli­cies, we will ask the devel­op­er to remove the vio­lat­ing con­tent. If the devel­op­er fails to take appro­pri­ate action, we reserve the right to sus­pend or ter­mi­nate the developer’s app from the Store. We have informed Telegram of the pub­lic posts that vio­late our Microsoft Store Poli­cies. We have an estab­lished his­to­ry of enforce­ment against sim­i­lar issues.

    ...

    So it’s going to be quite inter­est­ing to see what, if any­thing these tech giants do in response the El Paso neo-Nazi attack. This Hate­watch report is from bare­ly over a month ago so it’s not like it’s out of date news.

    Of course, the fact that a major mes­sag­ing app is run­ning chan­nels that pub­licly pro­mote ter­ror and pro­vide hit lists seems like the kind of issue that more than just device man­u­fac­tur­ers are respon­si­ble for address­ing. And Telegram isn’t the only plat­form where researchers have found neo-Nazis open­ly advo­cat­ing for domes­tic ter­ror attacks. Recall how the Steam gam­ing plat­form forums were found to have numer­ous groups where neo-Nazis cel­e­brat­ed school shoot­ers. It’s part of the ongo­ing debate about who is actu­al­ly respon­si­ble in the Unit­ed States for deal­ing with this. A debate that includes the Trump admin­is­tra­tion sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly ensur­ing fed­er­al author­i­ties don’t treat white suprema­cists as a sig­nif­i­cant ter­ror threat and instead focus on alleged left-wing threats and anti-fas­cists. So it’s worth keep­ing in mind that not elect­ing open advo­cates of white nation­al­ism to high office would be one way for the Amer­i­can pub­lic at large to help deal with the issue of the grow­ing num­ber of out­lets open­ly rad­i­cal­iz­ing, recruit­ing, and orga­niz­ing ‘lone wolf’ neo-Nazi domes­tic ter­ror­ists.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 5, 2019, 2:00 pm
  20. Here’s a dis­turb­ing fol­low up on “Soph”, the teenage neo-Nazi YouTube star who has near­ly a mil­lion fol­low­ers that high­lights the con­scious role online far right pro­pa­gan­dist play in turn­ing dis­turbed peo­ple into mass mur­der­ers. Like the recent neo-Nazi attack on El Paso: First, recall how, back in April, Soph uploaded a video to YouTube that was basi­cal­ly a 12 minute long death threat against YouTube CEO Susan Woj­ci­c­ki. This was done in response to YouTube deac­ti­vat­ing com­ments on her videos as part of a YouTube-wide new pol­i­cy of deac­ti­vat­ing com­ments on all videos with chil­dren. YouTube pro­ceed­ed to remove the death threat video, but kept the rest of her ‘Alt Right’ videos up. YouTube also issued a “strike” against Soph’s account over the death threat but that was basi­cal­ly it.

    So it looks like Soph’s account has final­ly been ter­mi­nat­ed. What final­ly trig­gered it? Well, in June of this year, YouTube start­ed ban­ning videos that include hate speech or pro­mote suprema­cist views. That made Soph’s typ­i­cal hate-filled videos sub­ject to “strikes” under this new pol­i­cy. Sure enough, Soph made a new anti-LGBTQ video that she uploaded on July 31st, and that gave her account enough “strikes” to get ter­mi­nat­ed. We’ll see how long before she reemerges some­how on the plat­form.

    But here’s the part that is par­tic­u­lar­ly notable in the con­text of the wave of ‘lone wolf’ neo-Nazi ter­ror attacks: Dur­ing the 12-minute anti-gay rant video, which she called “Pride and Prej­u­dice,” Soph tells her fol­low­ers to “make sure to blame me in your man­i­festos.”

    Also recall how Soph admits that she writes the scripts of her videos with an unnamed col­lab­o­ra­tor. So for all we know, some adult neo-Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors had her throw that line in there. Either way, it’s the kind of ‘joke’ com­ment that reveals how the cre­ators of this kind of con­tent ful­ly expect some mem­bers of their audi­ence to go out and mass mur­der peo­ple. And cel­e­brate and encour­age those future ter­ror attacks. In this case, three days before the El Paso neo-Nazi attack:

    Buz­zFeed News

    YouTube Ter­mi­nat­ed The Account Of A 14-Year-Old Star Over Her Anti-Gay Video

    After her account was removed, Soph tweet­ed an image of her­self with what appeared to be a gun, with the cap­tion, “youtube head­quar­ters here I come.”
    Joseph Bern­stein
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Last updat­ed on August 5, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. ET
    Post­ed on August 5, 2019, at 12:13 p.m. ET

    YouTube has removed the account of Soph, a 14-year-old girl who accu­mu­lat­ed near­ly a mil­lion fol­low­ers through racist and anti-Mus­lim videos, after she uploaded an anti-LGBTQ video on July 31.

    In the video, a 12-minute anti-gay rant titled “Pride and Prej­u­dice,” Soph encour­ages her fol­low­ers to “make sure to blame me in your man­i­festos” — a direct ref­er­ence to the kind of doc­u­ment post­ed to 8chan by the Christchurch shoot­er who killed 51 peo­ple in March. On Sat­ur­day, the El Paso shoot­ing sus­pect would also pub­lish a man­i­festo to 8chan before killing 22 peo­ple.

    Accord­ing to YouTube, the chan­nel was removed in accor­dance with its strike sys­tem, under which YouTube ter­mi­nates accounts that vio­late its Com­mu­ni­ty Guide­lines three times in 90 days, in the case of Soph’s chan­nel, the final strike vio­lat­ed the site’s Com­mu­ni­ty Guide­lines on hate speech.

    ...

    In June, YouTube faced weeks of blis­ter­ing crit­i­cism for its hate speech poli­cies — includ­ing direct ques­tions from the press about the Soph chan­nel. The same month, YouTube announced new poli­cies aimed at reduc­ing “harm­ful con­tent.”

    After her chan­nel was tak­en down, Soph tweet­ed an image of her­self with what appears to be an assault rifle, with the cap­tion “youtube head­quar­ters here I come.” She lat­er removed the tweet. “Gun tweet obviosly a joke,” she wrote in a fol­low-up tweet.

    ———–

    “YouTube Ter­mi­nat­ed The Account Of A 14-Year-Old Star Over Her Anti-Gay Video” by Joseph Bern­stein’ Buz­zFeed News’ 08/05/2019

    In the video, a 12-minute anti-gay rant titled “Pride and Prej­u­dice,” Soph encour­ages her fol­low­ers to “make sure to blame me in your man­i­festos” — a direct ref­er­ence to the kind of doc­u­ment post­ed to 8chan by the Christchurch shoot­er who killed 51 peo­ple in March. On Sat­ur­day, the El Paso shoot­ing sus­pect would also pub­lish a man­i­festo to 8chan before killing 22 peo­ple.”

    Just three days before the El Paso neo-Nazi attack that involved a man­i­festo, we had YouTube teen neo-Nazi star Soph encour­ag­ing her audi­ence to attribute their attacks to her in their future man­i­festos.

    But at least YouTube is no longer com­plete­ly tol­er­at­ing this kind of con­tent, which result­ed in anoth­er ‘joke’ about shoot­ing up YouTube’s head­quar­ters, this time post­ed to Twit­ter:

    ...
    After her chan­nel was tak­en down, Soph tweet­ed an image of her­self with what appears to be an assault rifle, with the cap­tion “youtube head­quar­ters here I come.” She lat­er removed the tweet. “Gun tweet obviosly a joke,” she wrote in a fol­low-up tweet.

    It’s going to be inter­est­ing to see how the neo-Nazi pro­pa­gan­da net­works deal with these new YouTube restric­tions on hate speech. But let’s not for­get that those restric­tions were only put in place in June, 14 years after YouTube was start­ed. Which also hap­pens to be the cur­rent age of Soph. Yes, YouTube has had an ‘any­thing goes’ approach to neo-Nazi pro­pa­gan­da for pret­ty much Soph’s entire life. So while ter­mi­na­tion of her account and oth­er YouTube neo-Nazi pro­pa­gan­da accounts will hope­ful­ly slow the neo-Nazi pro­pa­gan­da momen­tum a bit, keep in mind that the neo-Nazi momen­tum has been build­ing up for years now, espe­cial­ly for the kids who have grown up on this stuff.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 6, 2019, 3:11 pm
  21. Here’s an update on the role social media is play­ing in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of Brazil. We’ve already seen how Face­book’s What­sApp, a major source of news for Brazil­ians, has become over­whelmed with far right mis­in­for­ma­tion and pro­pa­gan­da that includes push­ing the memes that vac­cines are part of a west­ern plot. Now, the New York Times have inves­ti­gat­ed the role YouTube played in the rise of Jair Bol­sonaro and the Brazil­ian far right and, sur­prise!, it turns out YouTube has been doing the same thing in Brazil that it did every­one else: sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly rad­i­cal­ize the pop­u­lace by push­ing peo­ple towards far right videos. And this was all hap­pen­ing dur­ing the peri­od when Bol­sonaro went from a rel­a­tive­ly unknown or unpop­u­lar fig­ure to the nation’s lead­ing politi­cian. But YouTube has­n’t just been instru­men­tal in the rise of Bol­sonaro. An entire gen­er­a­tion of new far right per­son­al­i­ties have fig­ures out how to use YouTube to pro­pel them­selves into office:

    The New York Times

    How YouTube Rad­i­cal­ized Brazil

    By Max Fish­er and Aman­da Taub
    Aug. 11, 2019

    NITERÓI, Brazil — When Matheus Dominguez was 16, YouTube rec­om­mend­ed a video that changed his life.

    He was in a band in Niterói, a beach-ringed city in Brazil, and prac­ticed gui­tar by watch­ing tuto­ri­als online.

    YouTube had recent­ly installed a pow­er­ful new arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence sys­tem that learned from user behav­ior and paired videos with rec­om­men­da­tions for oth­ers. One day, it direct­ed him to an ama­teur gui­tar teacher named Nan­do Moura, who had gained a wide fol­low­ing by post­ing videos about heavy met­al, video games and, most of all, pol­i­tics.

    In col­or­ful and para­noid far-right rants, Mr. Moura accused fem­i­nists, teach­ers and main­stream politi­cians of wag­ing vast con­spir­a­cies. Mr. Dominguez was hooked.

    As his time on the site grew, YouTube rec­om­mend­ed videos from oth­er far-right fig­ures. One was a law­mak­er named Jair Bol­sonaro, then a mar­gin­al fig­ure in nation­al pol­i­tics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right com­mu­ni­ty in Brazil, where the plat­form has become more wide­ly watched than all but one TV chan­nel.

    Last year, he became Pres­i­dent Bol­sonaro.

    “YouTube became the social media plat­form of the Brazil­ian right,” said Mr. Dominguez, now a lanky 17-year-old who says he, too, plans to seek polit­i­cal office.

    Mem­bers of the nation’s new­ly empow­ered far right — from grass-roots orga­niz­ers to fed­er­al law­mak­ers — say their move­ment would not have risen so far, so fast, with­out YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion engine.

    New research has found they may be cor­rect. YouTube’s search and rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem appears to have sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly divert­ed users to far-right and con­spir­a­cy chan­nels in Brazil.

    A New York Times inves­ti­ga­tion in Brazil found that, time and again, videos pro­mot­ed by the site have upend­ed cen­tral ele­ments of dai­ly life.

    Teach­ers describe class­rooms made unruly by stu­dents who quote from YouTube con­spir­a­cy videos or who, encour­aged by right-wing YouTube stars, secret­ly record their instruc­tors.

    Some par­ents look to “Dr. YouTube” for health advice but get dan­ger­ous mis­in­for­ma­tion instead, ham­per­ing the nation’s efforts to fight dis­eases like Zika. Viral videos have incit­ed death threats against pub­lic health advo­cates.

    And in pol­i­tics, a wave of right-wing YouTube stars ran for office along­side Mr. Bol­sonaro, some win­ning by his­toric mar­gins. Most still use the plat­form, gov­ern­ing the world’s fourth-largest democ­ra­cy through inter­net-honed trolling and provo­ca­tion.

    YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem is engi­neered to max­i­mize watchtime, among oth­er fac­tors, the com­pa­ny says, but not to favor any polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy. The sys­tem sug­gests what to watch next, often play­ing the videos auto­mat­i­cal­ly, in a nev­er-end­ing quest to keep us glued to our screens.

    But the emo­tions that draw peo­ple in — like fear, doubt and anger — are often cen­tral fea­tures of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and in par­tic­u­lar, experts say, of right-wing extrem­ism.

    As the sys­tem sug­gests more provoca­tive videos to keep users watch­ing, it can direct them toward extreme con­tent they might oth­er­wise nev­er find. And it is designed to lead users to new top­ics to pique new inter­est — a boon for chan­nels like Mr. Moura’s that use pop cul­ture as a gate­way to far-right ideas.

    The sys­tem now dri­ves 70 per­cent of total time on the plat­form, the com­pa­ny says. As view­er­ship sky­rock­ets glob­al­ly, YouTube is bring­ing in over $1 bil­lion a month, some ana­lysts believe.

    Zeynep Tufek­ci, a social media schol­ar, has called it “one of the most pow­er­ful rad­i­cal­iz­ing instru­ments of the 21st cen­tu­ry.”

    Com­pa­ny rep­re­sen­ta­tives dis­put­ed the stud­ies’ method­ol­o­gy and said that the platform’s sys­tems do not priv­i­lege any one view­point or direct users toward extrem­ism. How­ev­er, com­pa­ny rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­ced­ed some of the find­ings and promised to make changes.

    Far­shad Shad­loo, a spokesman, said that YouTube has “invest­ed heav­i­ly in the poli­cies, resources and prod­ucts” to reduce the spread of harm­ful mis­in­for­ma­tion, adding, “we’ve seen that author­i­ta­tive con­tent is thriv­ing in Brazil and is some of the most rec­om­mend­ed con­tent on the site.”

    Danah Boyd, founder of the think tank Data & Soci­ety, attrib­uted the dis­rup­tion in Brazil to YouTube’s unre­lent­ing push for view­er engage­ment, and the rev­enues it gen­er­ates.

    Though cor­rup­tion scan­dals and a deep reces­sion had already dev­as­tat­ed Brazil’s polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment and left many Brazil­ians ready for a break with the sta­tus quo, Ms. Boyd called YouTube’s impact a wor­ry­ing indi­ca­tion of the platform’s grow­ing impact on democ­ra­cies world­wide.

    “This is hap­pen­ing every­where,” she said.

    The Par­ty of YouTube

    Mau­rí­cio Mar­tins, the local vice pres­i­dent of Mr. Bolsonaro’s par­ty in Niterói, cred­it­ed “most” of the party’s recruit­ment to YouTube — includ­ing his own.

    He was killing time on the site one day, he recalled, when the plat­form showed him a video by a right-wing blog­ger. He watched out of curios­i­ty. It showed him anoth­er, and then anoth­er.

    “Before that, I didn’t have an ide­o­log­i­cal polit­i­cal back­ground,” Mr. Mar­tins said. YouTube’s auto-play­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, he declared, were “my polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion.”

    “It was like that with every­one,” he said.

    The platform’s polit­i­cal influ­ence is increas­ing­ly felt in Brazil­ian schools.

    “Some­times I’m watch­ing videos about a game, and all of a sud­den it’s a Bol­sonaro video,” said Inza­ghi D., a 17-year-old high school­er in Niterói.

    More and more, his fel­low stu­dents are mak­ing extrem­ist claims, often cit­ing as evi­dence YouTube stars like Mr. Moura, the gui­tarist-turned-con­spir­acist.

    “It’s the main source that kids have to get infor­ma­tion,” he said.

    Few illus­trate YouTube’s influ­ence bet­ter than Car­los Jordy.

    Mus­cle­bound and heav­i­ly tat­tooed — his left hand bears a flam­ing skull with dia­mond eyes — he joined the City Coun­cil in 2017 with few prospects of ris­ing through tra­di­tion­al pol­i­tics. So Mr. Jordy took inspi­ra­tion from blog­gers like Mr. Moura and his polit­i­cal men­tor, Mr. Bol­sonaro, turn­ing his focus to YouTube.

    He post­ed videos accus­ing local teach­ers of con­spir­ing to indoc­tri­nate stu­dents into com­mu­nism. The videos won him a “nation­al audi­ence,” he said, and pro­pelled his stun­ning rise, only two years lat­er, to the fed­er­al leg­is­la­ture.

    “If social media didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “Jair Bol­sonaro wouldn’t be pres­i­dent.”

    Down The Rab­bit Hole

    A few hun­dred miles away from Niterói, a team of researchers led by Vir­gilio Almei­da at the Fed­er­al Uni­ver­si­ty of Minas Gerais hunched over com­put­ers, try­ing under­stand how YouTube shapes its users’ real­i­ty.

    The team ana­lyzed tran­scripts from thou­sands of videos, as well as the com­ments beneath them. Right-wing chan­nels in Brazil, they found, had seen their audi­ences expand far faster than oth­ers did, and seemed to be tilt­ing the site’s over­all polit­i­cal con­tent.

    In the months after YouTube changed its algo­rithm, pos­i­tive men­tions of Mr. Bol­sonaro bal­looned. So did men­tions of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that he had float­ed. This began as polls still showed him to be deeply unpop­u­lar, sug­gest­ing that the plat­form was doing more than mere­ly reflect­ing polit­i­cal trends.

    A team at Harvard’s Berk­man Klein Cen­ter set out to test whether the Brazil­ian far right’s mete­oric rise on the plat­form had been boost­ed by YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion engine.

    Jonas Kaiser and Yaso­dara Cór­do­va, with Adri­an Rauch­fleisch of Nation­al Tai­wan Uni­ver­si­ty, pro­grammed a Brazil-based serv­er to enter a pop­u­lar chan­nel or search term, then open YouTube’s top rec­om­men­da­tions, then fol­low the rec­om­men­da­tions on each of those, and so on.

    By repeat­ing this thou­sands of times, the researchers tracked how the plat­form moved users from one video to the next. They found that after users watched a video about pol­i­tics or even enter­tain­ment, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tions often favored right-wing, con­spir­a­cy-filled chan­nels like Mr. Moura’s.

    Cru­cial­ly, users who watched one far-right chan­nel would often be shown many more.

    The algo­rithm had unit­ed once-mar­gin­al chan­nels — and then built an audi­ence for them, the researchers con­clud­ed.

    One of those chan­nels belonged to Mr. Bol­sonaro, who had long used the plat­form to post hoax­es and con­spir­a­cies. Though a YouTube ear­ly adopter, his online fol­low­ing had done lit­tle to expand his polit­i­cal base, which bare­ly exist­ed on a nation­al lev­el.

    Then Brazil’s polit­i­cal sys­tem col­lapsed just as YouTube’s pop­u­lar­i­ty there soared. Mr. Bolsonaro’s views had not changed. But YouTube’s far-right, where he was a major fig­ure, saw its audi­ence explode, help­ing to prime large num­bers of Brazil­ians for his mes­sage at a time when the coun­try was ripe for a polit­i­cal shift.

    YouTube chal­lenged the researchers’ method­ol­o­gy and said its inter­nal data con­tra­dict­ed their find­ings. But the com­pa­ny declined the Times’ requests for that data, as well as requests for cer­tain sta­tis­tics that would reveal whether or not the researchers’ find­ings were accu­rate.

    ‘Dr. YouTube’

    The con­spir­a­cies were not lim­it­ed to pol­i­tics. Many Brazil­ians search­ing YouTube for health care infor­ma­tion found videos that ter­ri­fied them: some said Zika was being spread by vac­cines, or by the insec­ti­cides meant to curb the spread of the mos­qui­to-borne dis­ease that has rav­aged north­east­ern Brazil.

    The videos appeared to rise on the plat­form in much the same way as extrem­ist polit­i­cal con­tent: by mak­ing alarm­ing claims and promis­ing for­bid­den truths that kept users glued to their screens.

    Doc­tors, social work­ers and for­mer gov­ern­ment offi­cials said the videos had cre­at­ed the foun­da­tion of a pub­lic health cri­sis as fright­ened patients refused vac­cines and even anti-Zika insec­ti­cides.

    The con­se­quences have been pro­nounced in poor­er com­mu­ni­ties like Maceió, a city in Brazil’s north­east that was among the hard­est hit by Zika.

    ...

    When Zika first spread in 2015, health work­ers dis­trib­uted lar­vi­cides that killed the mos­qui­toes that spread the dis­ease.

    Not long after YouTube installed its new rec­om­men­da­tion engine, Dr. Santana’s patients began telling him that they’d seen videos blam­ing Zika on vac­cines — and, lat­er, on lar­vi­cides. Many refused both.

    Dr. Auriene Oliviera, an infec­tious dis­ease spe­cial­ist at the same hos­pi­tal, said patients increas­ing­ly defied her advice, includ­ing on pro­ce­dures cru­cial to their child’s sur­vival.

    “They say, ‘No, I’ve researched it on Google, I’ve seen it on YouTube,” she said.

    Med­ical providers, she said, were com­pet­ing “every sin­gle day” against “Dr. Google and Dr. YouTube” — and they were los­ing.

    Mard­jane Nunes, a Zika expert who recent­ly left a senior role in the health min­istry, said that health work­ers across Brazil have been report­ing sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences. As more com­mu­ni­ties refuse the anti-Zika lar­vi­cide, she added, the dis­ease is see­ing a small resur­gence.

    “Social media is win­ning,” she said.

    Brazil’s med­ical com­mu­ni­ty had rea­son to feel out­matched. The Har­vard researchers found that YouTube’s sys­tems fre­quent­ly direct­ed users who searched for infor­ma­tion on Zika, or even those who watched a rep­utable video on health issues, toward con­spir­a­cy chan­nels.

    A spokesman for YouTube con­firmed the Times’ find­ings, call­ing them unin­tend­ed, and said the com­pa­ny would change how its search tool sur­faced videos relat­ed to Zika.

    An ‘Ecosys­tem of Hate’

    As the far right rose, many of its lead­ing voic­es had learned to weaponize the con­spir­a­cy videos, offer­ing their vast audi­ences a tar­get: peo­ple to blame. Even­tu­al­ly, the YouTube con­spir­acists turned their spot­light on Deb­o­ra Diniz, a women’s rights activist whose abor­tion advo­ca­cy had long made her a tar­get of the far right.

    Bernar­do Küster, a YouTube star whose home­made rants had won him 750,000 sub­scribers and an endorse­ment from Mr. Bol­sonaro, accused her of involve­ment in the sup­posed Zika plots.

    The very peo­ple work­ing to help fam­i­lies affect­ed by Zika, their videos implied, were behind the dis­ease. Backed by shad­owy for­eign­ers, their goal was to abol­ish Brazil’s abor­tion ban — or even make abor­tions manda­to­ry.

    As far-right and con­spir­a­cy chan­nels began cit­ing one anoth­er, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem learned to string their videos togeth­er. How­ev­er implau­si­ble any indi­vid­ual rumor might be on its own, joined togeth­er, they cre­at­ed the impres­sion that dozens of dis­parate sources were reveal­ing the same ter­ri­fy­ing truth.

    “It feels like the con­nec­tion is made by the view­er, but the con­nec­tion is made by the sys­tem,” Ms. Diniz said.

    Threats of rape and tor­ture filled Ms. Diniz’s phone and email. Some cit­ed her dai­ly rou­tines. Many echoed claims from Mr. Küster’s videos, she said.

    Mr. Küster glee­ful­ly men­tioned, though nev­er explic­it­ly endorsed, the threats. That kept him just with­in YouTube’s rules.

    When the uni­ver­si­ty where Ms. Diniz taught received a warn­ing that a gun­man would shoot her and her stu­dents, and the police said they could no longer guar­an­tee her safe­ty, she left Brazil.

    “The YouTube sys­tem of rec­om­mend­ing the next video and the next video,” she said, had cre­at­ed “an ecosys­tem of hate.”

    “‘I heard here that she’s an ene­my of Brazil. I hear in the next one that fem­i­nists are chang­ing fam­i­ly val­ues. And the next one I hear that they receive mon­ey from abroad” she said. “That loop is what leads some­one to say ‘I will do what has to be done.’”

    “We need the com­pa­nies to face their role,” Ms. Diniz said. “Eth­i­cal­ly, they are respon­si­ble.”

    As con­spir­a­cies spread on YouTube, video mak­ers tar­get­ed aid groups whose work touch­es on con­tro­ver­sial issues like abor­tion. Even some fam­i­lies that had long relied on such groups came to won­der if the videos might be true, and began to avoid them.

    In Brazil, this is a grow­ing online prac­tice known as “lin­chamen­to” — lynch­ing. Mr. Bol­sonaro was an ear­ly pio­neer, spread­ing videos in 2012 that false­ly accused left-wing aca­d­e­mics of plot­ting to force schools to dis­trib­ute “gay kits” to con­vert chil­dren to homo­sex­u­al­i­ty.

    Mr. Jordy, his tat­tooed Niterói pro­tégé, was untrou­bled to learn that his own YouTube cam­paign, accus­ing teach­ers of spread­ing com­mu­nism, had turned their lives upside down.

    One of those teach­ers, Vale­ria Borges, said she and her col­leagues had been over­whelmed with mes­sages of hate, cre­at­ing a cli­mate of fear.

    Mr. Jordy, far from dis­put­ing this, said it had been his goal. “I want­ed her to feel fear,” he said.

    “It’s a cul­ture war we’re fight­ing,” he explained. “This is what I came into office to do.”

    ‘The Dic­ta­tor­ship of the Like’

    Ground zero for pol­i­tics by YouTube may be the São Paulo head­quar­ters of Movi­men­to Brasil Livre, which formed to agi­tate for the 2016 impeach­ment of the left-wing Pres­i­dent Dil­ma Rouss­eff. Its mem­bers trend young, mid­dle-class, right-wing and extreme­ly online.

    Renan San­tos, the group’s nation­al coor­di­na­tor, ges­tured to a door marked “the YouTube Divi­sion” and said, “This is the heart of things.”

    Inside, eight young men poked at edit­ing soft­ware. One was styl­iz­ing an image of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni for a video argu­ing that fas­cism had been wrong­ly blamed on the right.

    But even some peo­ple here fear the platform’s impact on democ­ra­cy. Mr. San­tos, for exam­ple, called social media a “weapon,” adding that some peo­ple around Mr. Bol­sonaro “want to use this weapon to pres­sure insti­tu­tions in a way that I don’t see as respon­si­ble.”

    The group’s co-founder, a man-bunned for­mer rock gui­tarist name Pedro D’Eyrot, said “we have some­thing here that we call the dic­ta­tor­ship of the like.”

    Real­i­ty, he said, is shaped by what­ev­er mes­sage goes most viral.

    Even as he spoke, a two-hour YouTube video was cap­ti­vat­ing the nation. Titled “1964” for the year of Brazil’s mil­i­tary coup, it argued that the takeover had been nec­es­sary to save Brazil from com­mu­nism.

    Mr. Dominguez, the teenag­er learn­ing to play gui­tar, said the video per­suad­ed him that his teach­ers had fab­ri­cat­ed the hor­rors of mil­i­tary rule.

    Ms. Borges, the his­to­ry teacher vil­i­fied on YouTube, said it brought back mem­o­ries of mil­i­tary cur­fews, dis­ap­peared activists and police beat­ings.

    “I don’t think I’ve had my last beat­ing,” she said.
    ———-

    “How YouTube Rad­i­cal­ized Brazil” by Max Fish­er and Aman­da Taub, The New York Times, 08/11/2019

    “Mem­bers of the nation’s new­ly empow­ered far right — from grass-roots orga­niz­ers to fed­er­al law­mak­ers — say their move­ment would not have risen so far, so fast, with­out YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion engine.”

    Brazil’s far right does­n’t hide it: YouTube was cru­cial to their suc­cess. And they can’t hide it because YouTube remains one of their pri­ma­ry modes of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

    But what makes this research so scan­dalous is that the far right did­n’t sim­ply use YouTube suc­cess­ful­ly to spread their mes­sage. Researchers found that YouTube was sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly dri­ving peo­ple to far right videos. 70 per­cent of the time spent on YouTube is dri­ven by these algo­rithms that rec­om­mend more videos and it turns out the heav­i­ly emo­tion-dri­ven pol­i­tics of the far right is great for keep­ing peo­ple watch­ing:

    ...
    YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem is engi­neered to max­i­mize watchtime, among oth­er fac­tors, the com­pa­ny says, but not to favor any polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy. The sys­tem sug­gests what to watch next, often play­ing the videos auto­mat­i­cal­ly, in a nev­er-end­ing quest to keep us glued to our screens.

    But the emo­tions that draw peo­ple in — like fear, doubt and anger — are often cen­tral fea­tures of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and in par­tic­u­lar, experts say, of right-wing extrem­ism.

    As the sys­tem sug­gests more provoca­tive videos to keep users watch­ing, it can direct them toward extreme con­tent they might oth­er­wise nev­er find. And it is designed to lead users to new top­ics to pique new inter­est — a boon for chan­nels like Mr. Moura’s that use pop cul­ture as a gate­way to far-right ideas.

    The sys­tem now dri­ves 70 per­cent of total time on the plat­form, the com­pa­ny says. As view­er­ship sky­rock­ets glob­al­ly, YouTube is bring­ing in over $1 bil­lion a month, some ana­lysts believe.

    Zeynep Tufek­ci, a social media schol­ar, has called it “one of the most pow­er­ful rad­i­cal­iz­ing instru­ments of the 21st cen­tu­ry.”

    ...

    As far-right and con­spir­a­cy chan­nels began cit­ing one anoth­er, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion sys­tem learned to string their videos togeth­er. How­ev­er implau­si­ble any indi­vid­ual rumor might be on its own, joined togeth­er, they cre­at­ed the impres­sion that dozens of dis­parate sources were reveal­ing the same ter­ri­fy­ing truth.

    “It feels like the con­nec­tion is made by the view­er, but the con­nec­tion is made by the sys­tem,” Ms. Diniz said.

    ...

    Jonas Kaiser and Yaso­dara Cór­do­va, with Adri­an Rauch­fleisch of Nation­al Tai­wan Uni­ver­si­ty, pro­grammed a Brazil-based serv­er to enter a pop­u­lar chan­nel or search term, then open YouTube’s top rec­om­men­da­tions, then fol­low the rec­om­men­da­tions on each of those, and so on.

    By repeat­ing this thou­sands of times, the researchers tracked how the plat­form moved users from one video to the next. They found that after users watched a video about pol­i­tics or even enter­tain­ment, YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tions often favored right-wing, con­spir­a­cy-filled chan­nels like Mr. Moura’s.
    ...

    Yep, even peo­ple who were just watch­ing enter­tain­ment videos were get­ting direct­ed to far right chan­nels. Come for the cat videos. Stay for the Nazis. That’s YouTube.

    And if a user watch­es one far right chan­nel, YouTube’s algo­rithm knows to serve up more far right chan­nels. As a result, the YouTube algo­rithm has effec­tive­ly unit­ed all of the pre­vi­ous­ly dis­parate and fringe far right YouTube chan­nels into one big chan­nel. This was crit­i­cal to the rapid growth of Bol­sonaro’s pop­u­lar­i­ty:

    ...
    Cru­cial­ly, users who watched one far-right chan­nel would often be shown many more.

    The algo­rithm had unit­ed once-mar­gin­al chan­nels — and then built an audi­ence for them, the researchers con­clud­ed.

    One of those chan­nels belonged to Mr. Bol­sonaro, who had long used the plat­form to post hoax­es and con­spir­a­cies. Though a YouTube ear­ly adopter, his online fol­low­ing had done lit­tle to expand his polit­i­cal base, which bare­ly exist­ed on a nation­al lev­el.

    Then Brazil’s polit­i­cal sys­tem col­lapsed just as YouTube’s pop­u­lar­i­ty there soared. Mr. Bolsonaro’s views had not changed. But YouTube’s far-right, where he was a major fig­ure, saw its audi­ence explode, help­ing to prime large num­bers of Brazil­ians for his mes­sage at a time when the coun­try was ripe for a polit­i­cal shift.

    YouTube chal­lenged the researchers’ method­ol­o­gy and said its inter­nal data con­tra­dict­ed their find­ings. But the com­pa­ny declined the Times’ requests for that data, as well as requests for cer­tain sta­tis­tics that would reveal whether or not the researchers’ find­ings were accu­rate.
    ...

    And note how, when this algo­rith­mic push behind Bol­sonaro by YouTube first start­ed, he was still deeply unpop­u­lar. So YouTube’s push­ing of Bol­sonaro was­n’t mere­ly reflect­ing polls. It was shap­ing them:

    ...
    Down The Rab­bit Hole

    A few hun­dred miles away from Niterói, a team of researchers led by Vir­gilio Almei­da at the Fed­er­al Uni­ver­si­ty of Minas Gerais hunched over com­put­ers, try­ing under­stand how YouTube shapes its users’ real­i­ty.

    The team ana­lyzed tran­scripts from thou­sands of videos, as well as the com­ments beneath them. Right-wing chan­nels in Brazil, they found, had seen their audi­ences expand far faster than oth­ers did, and seemed to be tilt­ing the site’s over­all polit­i­cal con­tent.

    In the months after YouTube changed its algo­rithm, pos­i­tive men­tions of Mr. Bol­sonaro bal­looned. So did men­tions of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that he had float­ed. This began as polls still showed him to be deeply unpop­u­lar, sug­gest­ing that the plat­form was doing more than mere­ly reflect­ing polit­i­cal trends.

    A team at Harvard’s Berk­man Klein Cen­ter set out to test whether the Brazil­ian far right’s mete­oric rise on the plat­form had been boost­ed by YouTube’s rec­om­men­da­tion engine.
    ...

    But Brazil’s far right isn’t sim­ply using YouTube to spread mis­in­for­ma­tion and pro­pa­gan­da. YouTube has also become a plat­form for orches­trat­ing the ter­ror­iza­tion of polit­i­cal oppo­nents:

    ...
    An ‘Ecosys­tem of Hate’

    As the far right rose, many of its lead­ing voic­es had learned to weaponize the con­spir­a­cy videos, offer­ing their vast audi­ences a tar­get: peo­ple to blame. Even­tu­al­ly, the YouTube con­spir­acists turned their spot­light on Deb­o­ra Diniz, a women’s rights activist whose abor­tion advo­ca­cy had long made her a tar­get of the far right.

    Bernar­do Küster, a YouTube star whose home­made rants had won him 750,000 sub­scribers and an endorse­ment from Mr. Bol­sonaro, accused her of involve­ment in the sup­posed Zika plots.

    The very peo­ple work­ing to help fam­i­lies affect­ed by Zika, their videos implied, were behind the dis­ease. Backed by shad­owy for­eign­ers, their goal was to abol­ish Brazil’s abor­tion ban — or even make abor­tions manda­to­ry.

    ...

    Threats of rape and tor­ture filled Ms. Diniz’s phone and email. Some cit­ed her dai­ly rou­tines. Many echoed claims from Mr. Küster’s videos, she said.

    Mr. Küster glee­ful­ly men­tioned, though nev­er explic­it­ly endorsed, the threats. That kept him just with­in YouTube’s rules.

    ...

    In Brazil, this is a grow­ing online prac­tice known as “lin­chamen­to” — lynch­ing. Mr. Bol­sonaro was an ear­ly pio­neer, spread­ing videos in 2012 that false­ly accused left-wing aca­d­e­mics of plot­ting to force schools to dis­trib­ute “gay kits” to con­vert chil­dren to homo­sex­u­al­i­ty.

    ...

    Few illus­trate YouTube’s influ­ence bet­ter than Car­los Jordy.

    Mus­cle­bound and heav­i­ly tat­tooed — his left hand bears a flam­ing skull with dia­mond eyes — he joined the City Coun­cil in 2017 with few prospects of ris­ing through tra­di­tion­al pol­i­tics. So Mr. Jordy took inspi­ra­tion from blog­gers like Mr. Moura and his polit­i­cal men­tor, Mr. Bol­sonaro, turn­ing his focus to YouTube.

    He post­ed videos accus­ing local teach­ers of con­spir­ing to indoc­tri­nate stu­dents into com­mu­nism. The videos won him a “nation­al audi­ence,” he said, and pro­pelled his stun­ning rise, only two years lat­er, to the fed­er­al leg­is­la­ture.

    “If social media didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “Jair Bol­sonaro wouldn’t be pres­i­dent.”

    ...

    Mr. Jordy, his tat­tooed Niterói pro­tégé, was untrou­bled to learn that his own YouTube cam­paign, accus­ing teach­ers of spread­ing com­mu­nism, had turned their lives upside down.

    One of those teach­ers, Vale­ria Borges, said she and her col­leagues had been over­whelmed with mes­sages of hate, cre­at­ing a cli­mate of fear.

    Mr. Jordy, far from dis­put­ing this, said it had been his goal. “I want­ed her to feel fear,” he said.

    “It’s a cul­ture war we’re fight­ing,” he explained. “This is what I came into office to do.”
    ...

    Final­ly, note that the Movi­men­to Brasil Livre group that was white­wash­ing Brazil’s mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, is one of the many groups in Brazil heav­i­ly fund­ed by the Koch Broth­ers. Because of course:

    ...
    ‘The Dic­ta­tor­ship of the Like’

    Ground zero for pol­i­tics by YouTube may be the São Paulo head­quar­ters of Movi­men­to Brasil Livre, which formed to agi­tate for the 2016 impeach­ment of the left-wing Pres­i­dent Dil­ma Rouss­eff. Its mem­bers trend young, mid­dle-class, right-wing and extreme­ly online.

    Renan San­tos, the group’s nation­al coor­di­na­tor, ges­tured to a door marked “the YouTube Divi­sion” and said, “This is the heart of things.”

    Inside, eight young men poked at edit­ing soft­ware. One was styl­iz­ing an image of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni for a video argu­ing that fas­cism had been wrong­ly blamed on the right.

    But even some peo­ple here fear the platform’s impact on democ­ra­cy. Mr. San­tos, for exam­ple, called social media a “weapon,” adding that some peo­ple around Mr. Bol­sonaro “want to use this weapon to pres­sure insti­tu­tions in a way that I don’t see as respon­si­ble.”

    The group’s co-founder, a man-bunned for­mer rock gui­tarist name Pedro D’Eyrot, said “we have some­thing here that we call the dic­ta­tor­ship of the like.”

    Real­i­ty, he said, is shaped by what­ev­er mes­sage goes most viral.

    Even as he spoke, a two-hour YouTube video was cap­ti­vat­ing the nation. Titled “1964” for the year of Brazil’s mil­i­tary coup, it argued that the takeover had been nec­es­sary to save Brazil from com­mu­nism.

    Mr. Dominguez, the teenag­er learn­ing to play gui­tar, said the video per­suad­ed him that his teach­ers had fab­ri­cat­ed the hor­rors of mil­i­tary rule.

    Ms. Borges, the his­to­ry teacher vil­i­fied on YouTube, said it brought back mem­o­ries of mil­i­tary cur­fews, dis­ap­peared activists and police beat­ings.

    “I don’t think I’ve had my last beat­ing,” she said.
    ...

    So we can add the rapid, wild­ly suc­cess­ful, and ongo­ing pro­mo­tion of fas­cism in Brazil as one of YouTube’s many accom­plish­ments in recent years. It’s the kind of track record that would make even Fox News jeal­ous.

    In oth­er news, around a quar­ter of Brazil­ians don’t believe the moon land­ing actu­al­ly hap­pened. This is where we are.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2019, 3:49 pm
  22. Here’s a rather dis­turb­ing sto­ry about the protests in Hong Kong that high­lights abil­i­ty of the online ‘Alt Right’ troll cul­ture to take on a life of its own: the Hong Kong pro­test­ers have adopt­ed Pepe the Frog as a mas­cot. Yep. Graf­fi­ti and stick­ers fea­tur­ing Pepe in all sorts of dif­fer­ent role are show­ing up in Hong Kong. There are even stick­er apps for mes­sag­ing apps like Telegram and What­sApp with stick­ers of Pepe wear­ing the pro­test­ers’ sig­na­ture yel­low hel­met, sur­round­ed by tear gas or hold­ing antigov­ern­ment signs

    The good news is that it does­n’t sound like most of the pro­test­ers are at all famil­iar with the fact that Pepe has been turned into a white suprema­cist sym­bol and instead see him as just a fun car­toon char­ac­ter. But it’s still pret­ty dis­turb­ing that, of all the car­toon char­ac­ters the pro­test­ers could have select­ed as a mas­cot, they arrived at Pepe. It seems like a high­ly improb­a­ble event to hap­pen ran­dom­ly, which rais­es the ques­tion of how this trend start­ed. Were ‘Alt Right’ Nazi online trolls cre­at­ing Pepe images for the protests that got picked up by unwit­ting pro­test­ers and it just went viral on its own? Did the pro­test­ers unwit­ting­ly fall for a counter-protest dirty trick designed to taint their image in the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty? Or are some of the pro­test­ers asso­ci­at­ed with the ‘Alt Right’ and know­ing­ly push­ing this? At this point it’s very unclear how exact­ly this hap­pened, but regard­less if the ori­gins of this, it’s hard to see how adopt­ing a white suprema­cist sym­bol is going to help the cause of the Hong Kong pro­test­ers:

    The New York Times

    Hong Kong Pro­test­ers Love Pepe the Frog. No, They’re Not Alt-Right.
    To much of the world, the car­toon frog is a hate sym­bol. To Hong Kong pro­test­ers, he’s some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent: one of them.

    By Daniel Vic­tor
    Aug 19, 2019

    HONG KONG — Ask the Anti-Defama­tion League, and they will tell you Pepe the Frog is a hate sym­bol, a cheer­leader of racism and anti-Semi­tism, a friend of alt-right extrem­ists. The sad, green frog is wide­ly viewed as tox­ic across the world, a sig­nal of a sin­is­ter and dan­ger­ous world­view.

    So it can be a bit jar­ring to see Pepe in his new role: a pro-democ­ra­cy free­dom fight­er in the Hong Kong protests, sid­ing with the peo­ple in their strug­gle against an author­i­tar­i­an state. The pro­test­ers here hold signs with his image, use stick­ers of him in mes­sag­ing apps and dis­cus­sion forums, and even spray paint his face on walls.

    Pro­tes­tors graf­fi­tied a “Press Pepe” at the Lennon Wall at Hong Kong’s Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment Office tonight. Civ­il ser­vants gonna see this in the morn­ing...#HongKong­Protests#antiELAB #antiELABhk #Pepe#PressPepe pic.twitter.com/xWxQFWLP5p

    — Alex Hof­ford (@alexhofford) August 18, 2019

    Does that mean that Hong Kong pro­test­ers are alt-right, or that they sup­port the racism he rep­re­sents?

    The ques­tion con­fus­es many pro­test­ers, many of whom had no idea about the symbol’s racist con­no­ta­tions else­where in the world. They just like him.

    “It has noth­ing to do with the far-right ide­ol­o­gy in the state,” one per­son wrote on LIHKG, an anony­mous forum that has been the cen­ter of dis­cus­sion for pro­test­ers. “It just looks fun­ny and cap­tures the hearts of so many young­sters. It is a sym­bol of youth par­tic­i­pa­tion in this move­ment.”

    Mari Law, a 33-year-old pro­test­er, knows how Pepe is per­ceived else­where, but said it did not mat­ter because Pepe did not car­ry the same tox­ic rep­u­ta­tion in Hong Kong. Most of the pro­test­ers don’t know about the alt-right asso­ci­a­tion, he said.

    “To me, Pepe is just a Hel­lo Kit­ty-like char­ac­ter,” he said.

    Few Hong Kongers have shown aware­ness online about Pepe’s sin­is­ter side. There has been lit­tle dis­cus­sion about what sym­bol­ism he car­ries, and in the few occa­sions it has been point­ed out, it has most­ly been met with a shrug.

    To Hong Kongers, he is just one of them. A stick­er pack for mes­sag­ing apps like Telegram and What­sApp depict Pepe wear­ing the pro­test­ers’ sig­na­ture yel­low hel­met, sur­round­ed by tear gas or hold­ing antigov­ern­ment signs. He has also been trans­formed into a first aid work­er and a jour­nal­ist hold­ing an iPhone.

    Emi­ly Yueng, 20, said she had no idea about Pepe’s check­ered past. After she learned, she won­dered if maybe she and oth­er pro­test­ers ought to stop hand­ing out posters with his image at the air­port.

    “But still, dif­fer­ent coun­tries have very dif­fer­ent cul­tures,” she said. “Sym­bols and col­ors that mean some­thing in one cul­ture can mean some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent in anoth­er cul­ture, so I think if Amer­i­cans are real­ly offend­ed by this, we should explain to them what it means to us.”

    Pepe was not always seen as a racist sym­bol. He was cre­at­ed more than a decade ago by Matt Furie, who killed off the char­ac­ter in 2017 after it was adopt­ed by the alt-right.

    Mem­bers of the alt-right on forums like 4chan and cer­tain cor­ners of Red­dit had appro­pri­at­ed his image, much to Mr. Furie’s dis­may. He said the frog, per­pet­u­al­ly stoned, was meant to be pos­i­tive, and denounced any link to racist or fringe groups.

    ...

    He added in a 2016 essay for Time mag­a­zine: “I under­stand that it’s out of my con­trol, but in the end, Pepe is what­ev­er you say he is, and I, the cre­ator, say that Pepe is love.”

    In Hong Kong, Pepe was nev­er trans­formed from the chill frog-dude Mr. Furie intend­ed him to be. Mr. Law said he thought Pepe would protest along­side Hong Kongers: Pepe is sad just like them.

    “I think we can rede­fine Pepe in this move­ment,” he said.
    ———-

    “Hong Kong Pro­test­ers Love Pepe the Frog. No, They’re Not Alt-Right.” by Daniel Vic­tor; The New York Times; 08/19/2019

    “So it can be a bit jar­ring to see Pepe in his new role: a pro-democ­ra­cy free­dom fight­er in the Hong Kong protests, sid­ing with the peo­ple in their strug­gle against an author­i­tar­i­an state. The pro­test­ers here hold signs with his image, use stick­ers of him in mes­sag­ing apps and dis­cus­sion forums, and even spray paint his face on walls.

    Pepe for free­dom and democ­ra­cy?! It’s a remark­able odd brand­ing choice for the pro­test­ers, some of whom appear to be aware of the car­toon char­ac­ter’s sta­tus as a white suprema­cist sym­bol in the West but shrug it off as unim­por­tant in the con­text of the Hong Kong protests because the local pop­u­la­tion gen­er­al­ly does­n’t real­ize the his­to­ry of the char­ac­ter. Again, it’s a remark­ably odd brand­ing deci­sion. Isn’t get­ting inter­na­tion­al sup­port an impor­tant com­po­nent of these protests? One of those pro­test­ers who is aware of the white suprema­cist sym­bol­ism went as far as sug­gest­ing that the adop­tion of Pepe by the pro­test­ers could be an act of reap­pro­pri­at­ing the char­ac­ter — much like the Alt Right did to Pepe when they first made him a white suprema­cist icon — and giv­ing him a new pos­i­tive con­no­ta­tion. It’s a nice goal, but, again, is it worth risk­ing the inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion of the protest move­ment just because peo­ple this a car­toon char­ac­ter looks amus­ing?

    ...
    Mari Law, a 33-year-old pro­test­er, knows how Pepe is per­ceived else­where, but said it did not mat­ter because Pepe did not car­ry the same tox­ic rep­u­ta­tion in Hong Kong. Most of the pro­test­ers don’t know about the alt-right asso­ci­a­tion, he said.

    “To me, Pepe is just a Hel­lo Kit­ty-like char­ac­ter,” he said.

    Few Hong Kongers have shown aware­ness online about Pepe’s sin­is­ter side. There has been lit­tle dis­cus­sion about what sym­bol­ism he car­ries, and in the few occa­sions it has been point­ed out, it has most­ly been met with a shrug.

    To Hong Kongers, he is just one of them. A stick­er pack for mes­sag­ing apps like Telegram and What­sApp depict Pepe wear­ing the pro­test­ers’ sig­na­ture yel­low hel­met, sur­round­ed by tear gas or hold­ing antigov­ern­ment signs. He has also been trans­formed into a first aid work­er and a jour­nal­ist hold­ing an iPhone.

    Emi­ly Yueng, 20, said she had no idea about Pepe’s check­ered past. After she learned, she won­dered if maybe she and oth­er pro­test­ers ought to stop hand­ing out posters with his image at the air­port.

    “But still, dif­fer­ent coun­tries have very dif­fer­ent cul­tures,” she said. “Sym­bols and col­ors that mean some­thing in one cul­ture can mean some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent in anoth­er cul­ture, so I think if Amer­i­cans are real­ly offend­ed by this, we should explain to them what it means to us.”

    ...

    In Hong Kong, Pepe was nev­er trans­formed from the chill frog-dude Mr. Furie intend­ed him to be. Mr. Law said he thought Pepe would protest along­side Hong Kongers: Pepe is sad just like them.

    “I think we can rede­fine Pepe in this move­ment,” he said.
    ...

    “I think we can rede­fine Pepe in this move­ment.” Good luck with that. The prob­lem is that it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble for Pepe to be rede­fined only in one part of the world while he retains his nas­ti­er sym­bol­ism in the rest of the world. And that’s prob­a­bly what’s going to hap­pen: Pepe real­ly will become a sym­bol of free­dom and democracy...but he’ll only be that sym­bol in Hong Kong and Chi­na and remain a Nazi sym­bol every­where else. To the end­less amuse­ment of neo-Nazi trolls every­where.

    Kerop­pi weeps for us all.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 20, 2019, 3:07 pm
  23. @Pterrafractyl–

    Here is a NY Times arti­cle about Steve Ban­non’s alliance with Falun Gong and oth­er reactionary/fascist and spook ele­ments ally­ing against Chi­na:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/20/us/politics/china-red-scare-washington.html

    Pepe the Frog seems to be “Goose Hop­ping” with the crowd.

    A good arti­cle from “Con­sor­tium News” about the desta­bi­liza­tion effort against Chi­na:

    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/08/19/us-backs-xenophobia-mob-violence-in-hong-kong/

    Pepe the Friend­ly Spook?

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 20, 2019, 3:15 pm
  24. @Dave: NBC News just came out with a new report that appears to point in exact­ly that direc­tion: It turns out Falun Gong has become a major Don­ald Trump boost­er and view him as a major anti-com­mu­nist ally. And this pro-Trump ori­en­ta­tion has coin­cid­ed with the explo­sive rise in the pop­u­lar­i­ty of Falun Gong-owned media assets. Specif­i­cal­ly, the Epoch Times and the dig­i­tal video out­let New Tang Dynasty, or NTD. The Epoch Times and Falun Gong had a com­bined ~3 bil­lion views on Face­book, YouTube and Twit­ter in April of this year, which made it the 11th most pop­u­lar of all video cre­ators across plat­forms and out­rank­ing every oth­er tra­di­tion­al news pub­lish­er.

    Before 2016, the Epoch Times rarely cov­ered US pol­i­tics unless it involved Chi­na. Today, the Epoch Times has spent more than $1.5 bil­lion on ~11,000 pro-Trump ads in the last six months alone, more than any orga­ni­za­tion out­side of the Trump cam­paign itself. And US con­ser­v­a­tives have noticed and wel­comed this new ally. This year, the Epoch times was a main play­er at CPAC for the first time.

    How did the Epoch Times and NTD become so pop­u­lar? By ful­ly embrac­ing the world of the right-wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry dis­in­fo­tain­ment indus­try, includ­ing aggres­sive­ly pro­mot­ing the ‘QAnon’ nar­ra­tive. So you have to won­der if Falun Gong’s media empire played a role in the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of Pepe the Frog because that would be com­plete­ly con­sis­tent with the rest of the con­tent they’re putting out:

    NBC News

    Trump, QAnon and an impend­ing judg­ment day: Behind the Face­book-fueled rise of The Epoch Times
    Start­ed almost two decades ago with a stat­ed mis­sion to “pro­vide infor­ma­tion to Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties to help immi­grants assim­i­late into Amer­i­can soci­ety,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media fol­low­ings of any news out­let.

    By Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins
    Aug. 20, 2019, 3:12 AM CDT

    By the num­bers, there is no big­ger advo­cate of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Face­book than The Epoch Times.

    The small New York-based non­prof­it news out­let has spent more than $1.5 mil­lion on about 11,000 pro-Trump adver­tise­ments in the last six months, accord­ing to data from Facebook’s adver­tis­ing archive — more than any orga­ni­za­tion out­side of the Trump cam­paign itself, and more than most Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates have spent on their own cam­paigns.

    Those video ads — in which uniden­ti­fied spokes­peo­ple thumb through a news­pa­per to praise Trump, ped­dle con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the “Deep State,” and crit­i­cize “fake news” media — strike a famil­iar tone in the online con­ser­v­a­tive news ecosys­tem. The Epoch Times looks like many of the con­ser­v­a­tive out­lets that have gained fol­low­ings in recent years.

    But it isn’t.

    Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s own­er­ship and oper­a­tion is close­ly tied to Falun Gong, a Chi­nese spir­i­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty with the stat­ed goal of tak­ing down China’s gov­ern­ment.

    It’s that moti­va­tion that helped dri­ve the orga­ni­za­tion toward Trump, accord­ing to inter­views with for­mer Epoch Times staffers, a move that has been both lucra­tive and ben­e­fi­cial for its mes­sage.

    For­mer prac­ti­tion­ers of Falun Gong told NBC News that believ­ers think the world is head­ed toward a judg­ment day, where those labeled “com­mu­nists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sym­pa­thet­ic to the spir­i­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-com­mu­nist fight, for­mer Epoch Times employ­ees said.

    In part because of that unusu­al back­ground, The Epoch Times has had trou­ble find­ing a foothold in the broad­er con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment.

    “It seems like an inter­lop­er — not well inte­grat­ed social­ly with­in the move­ment net­work, and not ter­ri­bly well-cir­cu­lat­ing among right-wingers,” said A.J. Bauer, a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor of media, cul­ture and com­mu­ni­ca­tion at New York Uni­ver­si­ty, who is part of an ongo­ing study in which he and his col­leagues inter­view con­ser­v­a­tive jour­nal­ists.

    “Even when dis­cussing more fringe‑y sites, con­ser­v­a­tive jour­nal­ists tend to ref­er­ence Gate­way Pun­dit or Infowars,” Bauer said. “The Epoch Times doesn’t tend to come up.”

    That seems to be chang­ing.

    Before 2016, The Epoch Times gen­er­al­ly stayed out of U.S. pol­i­tics, unless they dove­tailed with Chi­nese inter­ests. The publication’s recent ad strat­e­gy, cou­pled with a broad­er cam­paign to embrace social media and con­ser­v­a­tive U.S. pol­i­tics — Trump in par­tic­u­lar — has dou­bled The Epoch Times’ rev­enue, accord­ing to the organization’s tax fil­ings, and pushed it to greater promi­nence in the broad­er con­ser­v­a­tive media world.

    Start­ed almost two decades ago as a free news­pa­per and web­site with a stat­ed mis­sion to “pro­vide infor­ma­tion to Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties to help immi­grants assim­i­late into Amer­i­can soci­ety,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media fol­low­ings of any news out­let.

    In April, at the height of its ad spend­ing, videos from the Epoch Media Group, which includes The Epoch Times and dig­i­tal video out­let New Tang Dynasty, or NTD, com­bined for around 3 bil­lion views on Face­book, YouTube and Twit­ter, rank­ing 11th among all video cre­ators across plat­forms and out­rank­ing every oth­er tra­di­tion­al news pub­lish­er, accord­ing to data from the social media ana­lyt­ics com­pa­ny Tubu­lar.

    That engage­ment has made The Epoch Times a favorite of the Trump fam­i­ly and a key com­po­nent of the president’s re-elec­tion cam­paign. The president’s Face­book page has post­ed Epoch Times con­tent at least half a dozen times this year— with sev­er­al arti­cles writ­ten by mem­bers of the Trump cam­paign. Don­ald Trump Jr. has tweet­ed sev­er­al of their sto­ries, too.

    In May, Lara Trump, the president’s daugh­ter-in-law, sat down for a 40-minute inter­view in Trump Tow­er with the paper’s senior edi­tor. And for the first time, The Epoch Times was a main play­er at the con­ser­v­a­tive con­fer­ence CPAC this year, where it secured inter­views with mem­bers of Con­gress, Trump Cab­i­net mem­bers and right-wing celebri­ties.

    At the same time, its net­work of news sites and YouTube chan­nels has made it a pow­er­ful con­duit for the internet’s fringi­er con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, includ­ing anti-vac­ci­na­tion pro­pa­gan­da and QAnon, to reach the main­stream.

    Despite its grow­ing reach and pow­er, lit­tle is pub­licly known about the pre­cise own­er­ship, ori­gins or influ­ences of The Epoch Times.

    The outlet’s opac­i­ty makes it dif­fi­cult to deter­mine an over­all struc­ture, but it is loose­ly orga­nized into sev­er­al region­al tax-free non­prof­its. The Epoch Times oper­ates along­side the video pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny, NTD, under the umbrel­la of The Epoch Media Group, a pri­vate news and enter­tain­ment com­pa­ny whose own­er exec­u­tives have declined to name, cit­ing con­cerns of “pres­sure” that could fol­low.

    The Epoch Media Group, along with Shen Yun, a dance troupe known for its ubiq­ui­tous adver­tis­ing and unset­tling per­for­mances, make up the out­reach effort of Falun Gong, a rel­a­tive­ly new spir­i­tu­al prac­tice that com­bines ancient Chi­nese med­i­ta­tive exer­cis­es, mys­ti­cism and often ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive cul­tur­al world­views. Falun Gong’s founder has referred to Epoch Media Group as “our media,” and the group’s prac­tice heav­i­ly informs The Epoch Times’ cov­er­age, accord­ing to for­mer employ­ees who spoke with NBC News.

    Exec­u­tives at The Epoch Times declined to be inter­viewed for this arti­cle, but the pub­lish­er, Stephen Gre­go­ry, wrote an edi­to­r­i­al in response to a list of emailed ques­tions from NBC News, call­ing it “high­ly inap­pro­pri­ate” and part of an effort to “dis­cred­it” the pub­li­ca­tion to ask about the company’s affil­i­a­tion with Falun Gong and its stance on the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

    Inter­views with for­mer employ­ees, pub­lic finan­cial records and social media data illus­trate how a secre­tive news­pa­per has been able to lever­age the devot­ed fol­low­ers of a reclu­sive spir­i­tu­al leader, polit­i­cal vit­ri­ol, online con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and the rise of Trump to become a dig­i­tal media pow­er­house that now attracts bil­lions of views each month, all while pub­licly deny­ing or down­play­ing its asso­ci­a­tion with Falun Gong.

    Behind the times

    In 2009, the founder and leader of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi, came to speak at The Epoch Times’ offices in Man­hat­tan. Li came with a clear direc­tive for the Falun Gong vol­un­teers who com­prised the company’s staff: “Become reg­u­lar media.”

    The pub­li­ca­tion had been found­ed nine years ear­li­er in Geor­gia by John Tang, a Chi­nese Amer­i­can prac­ti­tion­er of Falun Gong and cur­rent pres­i­dent of New Tang Dynasty. But it was falling short of Li’s ambi­tions as stat­ed to his fol­low­ers: to expose the evil of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and “save all sen­tient beings” in a forth­com­ing divine bat­tle against com­mu­nism.

    Rough­ly trans­lat­ed by the group as “law wheel exer­cise,” Falun Gong was start­ed by Li in 1992. The prac­tice, which com­bines bits of Bud­dhism and Tao­ism, involves med­i­ta­tion and gen­tle exer­cis­es and espous­es Li’s con­tro­ver­sial teach­ings.

    “Li Hongzhi sim­pli­fied med­i­ta­tion and prac­tices that tra­di­tion­al­ly have many steps and are very con­fus­ing,” said Ming Xia, a pro­fes­sor at the Grad­u­ate Cen­ter of the City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York who has stud­ied Falun Gong. “Basi­cal­ly it’s like fast food, a quick­ie.”

    Li’s teach­ings quick­ly built a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing — and ran into ten­sion with China’s lead­ers, who viewed his pop­u­lar­i­ty as a threat to the com­mu­nist government’s hold on pow­er.

    In 1999, after thou­sands of Li’s fol­low­ers gath­ered in front of Pres­i­dent Jiang Zemin’s com­pound to qui­et­ly protest the arrest of sev­er­al Falun Gong mem­bers, author­i­ties in Chi­na banned Falun Gong, clos­ing teach­ing cen­ters and arrest­ing Falun Gong orga­niz­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers who refused to give up the prac­tice. Human rights groups have report­ed some adher­ents being tor­tured and killed while in cus­tody.

    The crack­down elicit­ed con­dem­na­tion from West­ern coun­tries, and attract­ed a new pool of fol­low­ers in the Unit­ed States, for whom Chi­na and com­mu­nism were com­mon adver­saries.

    “The per­se­cu­tion itself ele­vat­ed Li’s sta­tus and brought tremen­dous media atten­tion,” Ming said.

    It has also invit­ed scruti­ny of the spir­i­tu­al leader’s more uncon­ven­tion­al ideas. Among them, Li has railed against what he called the wicked­ness of homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, fem­i­nism and pop­u­lar music while hold­ing that he is a god-like fig­ure who can lev­i­tate and walk through walls.

    Li has also taught that sick­ness is a symp­tom of evil that can only be tru­ly cured with med­i­ta­tion and devo­tion, and that aliens from undis­cov­ered dimen­sions have invad­ed the minds and bod­ies of humans, bring­ing cor­rup­tion and inven­tions such as com­put­ers and air­planes. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has used these con­tro­ver­sial teach­ings to label Falun Gong a cult. Falun Gong has denied the gov­ern­men­t’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion.

    The Epoch Times pro­vid­ed Li with an Eng­lish-lan­guage way to push back against Chi­na — a posi­tion that would even­tu­al­ly dove­tail with Trump’s elec­tion.

    In 2005, The Epoch Times released its great­est sal­vo, pub­lish­ing the ”Nine Com­men­taries,” a wide­ly dis­trib­uted book-length series of anony­mous edi­to­ri­als that it claimed exposed the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s “mas­sive crimes” and “attempts to erad­i­cate all tra­di­tion­al moral­i­ty and reli­gious belief.”

    The next year, an Epoch Times reporter was removed from a White House event for Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao after inter­rupt­ing the cer­e­mo­ny by shout­ing for sev­er­al min­utes that then-Pres­i­dent George W. Bush must stop the leader from “per­se­cut­ing Falun Gong.”

    But despite its small army of devot­ed vol­un­teers, The Epoch Times was still oper­at­ing as a fledg­ling start­up.

    Ben Hur­ley is a for­mer Falun Gong prac­ti­tion­er who helped cre­ate Australia’s Eng­lish ver­sion of The Epoch Times out of a liv­ing room in Syd­ney in 2005. He has writ­ten about his expe­ri­ence with the paper and described the ear­ly years as “a giant PR cam­paign” to evan­ge­lize about Falun Gong’s belief in an upcom­ing apoc­a­lypse in which those who think bad­ly of the prac­tice, or well of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, will be destroyed.

    Hur­ley, who wrote for The Epoch Times until he left in 2013, said he saw prac­ti­tion­ers in lead­er­ship posi­tions begin draw­ing hard­er and hard­er lines about accept­able polit­i­cal posi­tions.

    “Their views were always anti-abor­tion and homo­pho­bic, but there was more room for dis­agree­ments in the ear­ly days,” he said.

    Hur­ley said Falun Gong prac­ti­tion­ers saw com­mu­nism every­where: for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton, movie star Jack­ie Chan and for­mer Unit­ed Nations Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Kofi Annan were all con­sid­ered to have sold them­selves out to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, Hur­ley said.

    This kind of cov­er­age fore­shad­owed the news organization’s embrace of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries like QAnon, the over­ar­ch­ing the­o­ry that there is an evil cabal of “deep state” oper­a­tors and child preda­tors out to take down the pres­i­dent.

    “It is so rabid­ly pro-Trump,” Hur­ley said, refer­ring to The Epoch Times. Devout prac­ti­tion­ers of Falun Gong “believe that Trump was sent by heav­en to destroy the Com­mu­nist Par­ty.”

    A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Li declined an inter­view request. Li lives among hun­dreds of his fol­low­ers near Drag­on Springs, a 400-acre com­pound in upstate New York that hous­es tem­ples, pri­vate schools and quar­ters where per­form­ers for the organization’s dance troupe, Shen Yun, live and rehearse, accord­ing to four for­mer com­pound res­i­dents and for­mer Falun Gong prac­ti­tion­ers who spoke to NBC News.

    They said that life in Drag­on Springs is tight­ly con­trolled by Li, that inter­net access is restrict­ed, the use of med­i­cines is dis­cour­aged, and arranged rela­tion­ships are com­mon. Two for­mer res­i­dents on visas said they were offered to be set up with U.S. res­i­dents at the com­pound.

    Tiger Huang, a for­mer Drag­on Springs res­i­dent who was on a U.S. stu­dent visa from Tai­wan, said she was set up on three dates on the com­pound, and she believed her abil­i­ty to stay in the U.S. was tied to the arrange­ment.

    “The pur­pose of set­ting up the dates was obvi­ous,” Huang said. Her now-hus­band, a for­mer Drag­on Springs res­i­dent, con­firmed the account.

    Huang said she was told by Drag­on Springs offi­cials her visa had expired and was told to go back to Tai­wan after months of dat­ing a non­prac­ti­tion­er in the com­pound. She lat­er learned that her visa had not expired when she was told to leave the coun­try.

    Cam­paign sea­son

    By 2016, The Epoch Times Group appeared to have heed­ed the call from Li to run its oper­a­tion more like a typ­i­cal news orga­ni­za­tion, start­ing with The Epoch Times’ web­site. In March, the com­pa­ny placed job ads on the site Indeed.com and assem­bled a team of sev­en young reporters oth­er­wise uncon­nect­ed to Falun Gong. The aver­age salary for the new recruits was $35,000 a year, paid month­ly, accord­ing to for­mer employ­ees.

    Things seemed “strange,” even from the first day, accord­ing to five for­mer reporters who spoke with NBC News — four of whom asked for anonymi­ty over con­cerns that speak­ing neg­a­tive­ly about their expe­ri­ence would affect their rela­tion­ship with cur­rent and future employ­ers.

    As part of their ori­en­ta­tion, the new reporters watched a video that laid out the Chi­nese per­se­cu­tion of Falun Gong fol­low­ers. The pub­lish­er, Stephen Gre­go­ry, also spoke to the reporters about his vision for the new dig­i­tal ini­tia­tive. The for­mer employ­ees said Gregory’s talk framed The Epoch Times as an answer to the lib­er­al main­stream media.

    Their con­tent was to be crit­i­cal of com­mu­nist Chi­na, clear-eyed about the threat of Islam­ic ter­ror­ism, focused on ille­gal immi­gra­tion and at all times root­ed in “tra­di­tion­al” val­ues, they said. This meant no con­tent about drugs, gay peo­ple or pop­u­lar music.

    The reporters said they worked from desks arranged in a U‑shape in a sin­gle-room office that was sep­a­rat­ed by a locked door from the oth­er staff mem­bers who worked on the paper, dozens of Falun Gong vol­un­teers and interns. The new recruits wrote up to five news sto­ries a day in an effort to meet a quo­ta of 100,000 page views, and sub­mit­ted their work to a hand­ful of edi­tors — a team of two Falun Gong-prac­tic­ing mar­ried cou­ples.

    “Slave labor may not be the right word, but that’s a lot of arti­cles to write in one day,” one for­mer employ­ee said.

    It wasn’t just the amount of writ­ing but also the con­ser­v­a­tive edi­to­r­i­al restric­tions that began to con­cern some of the employ­ees.

    “It’s like we were sup­posed to be fight­ing so-called lib­er­al pro­pa­gan­da by mak­ing our own,” said Steve Klett, who cov­ered the Trump cam­paign for The Epoch Times as his first job in jour­nal­ism. Klett likened The Epoch Times to a Russ­ian troll farm and said his arti­cles were edit­ed to remove out­side crit­i­cism of Trump.

    “The worst was the Pulse shoot­ing,” Klett said, refer­ring to the 2016 mass shoot­ing in which 50 peo­ple includ­ing the gun­man were killed at a gay night­club in Orlan­do, Flori­da. “We weren’t allowed to cov­er sto­ries involv­ing homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, but that bumps up against them want­i­ng to cov­er Islam­ic ter­ror­ism. So I wrote four arti­cles with­out using the word gay.”

    Klett said that the pub­li­ca­tion also began to skew in favor of Trump, who had tar­get­ed Chi­na on the cam­paign trail with talk of a trade war.

    “I knew I had to for­get about all the worst parts of Trump,” Klett said.

    Klett, how­ev­er, would not end up hav­ing to cov­er the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Eight days before the elec­tion, the team was called togeth­er and fired as a group.

    “I guess the exper­i­ment was over,” a for­mer employ­ee said.

    The con­tent

    The Epoch Times, dig­i­tal pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny NTD and the heav­i­ly adver­tised dance troupe Shen Yun make up the non­prof­it net­work that Li calls “our media.” Finan­cial doc­u­ments paint a com­pli­cat­ed pic­ture of more than a dozen tech­ni­cal­ly sep­a­rate orga­ni­za­tions that appear to share mis­sions, mon­ey and exec­u­tives. Though the source of their rev­enue is unclear, the most recent finan­cial records from each orga­ni­za­tion paint a pic­ture of an over­all busi­ness thriv­ing in the Trump era.

    The Epoch Times brought in $8.1 mil­lion in rev­enue in 2017 — dou­ble what it had the pre­vi­ous year — and report­ed spend­ing $7.2 mil­lion on “print­ing news­pa­per and cre­at­ing web and media pro­grams.” Most of its rev­enue comes from adver­tis­ing and “web and media income,” accord­ing to the group’s annu­al tax fil­ings, while indi­vid­ual dona­tions and sub­scrip­tions to the paper make up less than 10 per­cent of its rev­enue.

    New Tang Dynasty’s 2017 rev­enue, accord­ing to IRS records, was $18 mil­lion, a 150 per­cent increase over the year before. It spent $16.2 mil­lion.

    That expo­nen­tial growth came around the same time The Epoch Times expand­ed its online pres­ence and increased its ad spend­ing, hon­ing its mes­sage on two basic themes: enthu­si­as­tic sup­port for Trump’s agen­da, and the expo­sure of what the pub­li­ca­tion claims is a labyrinthi­an, glob­al con­spir­a­cy led by Clin­ton and for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma to tear down Trump. One such con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, loose­ly called “Spy­gate,” has become a com­mon talk­ing point for Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty and con­ser­v­a­tive news web­sites like Bre­it­bart.

    The paper’s “Spy­gate Spe­cial Cov­er­age” sec­tion, which fre­quent­ly sits atop its web­site, the­o­rizes about a grand, years­long plot in which for­mer Oba­ma and Clin­ton staffers, a hand­ful of mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers, pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors and gov­ern­ment bureau­crats plan to take down the Trump pres­i­den­cy.

    In his pub­lished response, pub­lish­er Gre­go­ry said the media outlet’s ads “have no polit­i­cal agen­da.”

    While The Epoch Times usu­al­ly strad­dles the line between an ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive news out­let and a con­spir­a­cy ware­house, some pop­u­lar online shows cre­at­ed by Epoch Times employ­ees and pro­duced by NTD cross the line com­plete­ly, and spread far and wide.

    One such show is “Edge of Won­der,” a ver­i­fied YouTube chan­nel that releas­es new NTD-pro­duced videos twice every week and now has more than 33 mil­lion views. In addi­tion to claims that alien abduc­tions are real and the drug epi­dem­ic was engi­neered by the “deep state,” the chan­nel push­es the QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, which false­ly posits that the same “Spy­gate” cabal is a front for a glob­al pedophile ring being tak­en down by Trump.

    One QAnon video, titled “#QANON — 7 facts the MEDIA (MSM) Won’t Admit” has almost 1 mil­lion views on YouTube. Oth­er videos in the channel’s QAnon playlist, which include videos about 9/11 con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and one titled “13 BLOODLINES & their Dia­bol­i­cal End Game,” gained hun­dreds of thou­sands of views each.

    Travis View, a researcher and pod­cast­er who stud­ies the QAnon move­ment, said The Epoch Times has san­i­tized the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry by push­ing Spy­gate, which drops the wildest and more pruri­ent details of QAnon while retain­ing its con­spir­a­to­r­i­al ele­ments.

    “QAnon is high­ly stig­ma­tized among peo­ple try­ing to push the Spy­gate mes­sage. They know how tox­ic QAnon is,” View said. “Spy­gate leaves out the spir­i­tu­al ele­ments, the child sex traf­fick­ing, but it’s cer­tain­ly inte­gral to the QAnon nar­ra­tive.”

    Gre­go­ry denied any con­nec­tion with “Edge of Won­der,” writ­ing in a state­ment that his orga­ni­za­tion was “aware of the enter­tain­ment show,” but “is in no way con­nect­ed with it.”

    But The Epoch Times has itself pub­lished sev­er­al cred­u­lous reports on QAnon and for years, the web­series hosts Rob Counts and Ben­jamin Chas­teen were employed as the company’s cre­ative direc­tor and chief pho­to edi­tor, respec­tive­ly. In August 2018, six months after the cre­ation of “Edge of Won­der,” Counts tweet­ed that he still worked for Epoch Times. Counts and Chas­teen did not respond to an email seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion on their roles.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump, QAnon and an impend­ing judg­ment day: Behind the Face­book-fueled rise of The Epoch Times” by Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, NBC News, 08/20/2019

    “For­mer prac­ti­tion­ers of Falun Gong told NBC News that believ­ers think the world is head­ed toward a judg­ment day, where those labeled “com­mu­nists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sym­pa­thet­ic to the spir­i­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-com­mu­nist fight, for­mer Epoch Times employ­ees said.

    Trump is now a key ally of Falun Gong. He sure has inter­est­ing allies. And this new alliance appears to embraced by the broad­er US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, as evi­denced by the Epoch Time’s first time as a main play­er at CPAC this year. And with the Epoch Times and NTD get­ting more video views than any tra­di­tion­al news pub­lish­er, it’s no sur­prise:

    ...
    For­mer prac­ti­tion­ers of Falun Gong told NBC News that believ­ers think the world is head­ed toward a judg­ment day, where those labeled “com­mu­nists” will be sent to a kind of hell, and those sym­pa­thet­ic to the spir­i­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty will be spared. Trump is viewed as a key ally in the anti-com­mu­nist fight, for­mer Epoch Times employ­ees said. The publication’s recent ad strat­e­gy, cou­pled with a broad­er cam­paign to embrace social media and con­ser­v­a­tive U.S. pol­i­tics — Trump in par­tic­u­lar — has dou­bled The Epoch Times’ rev­enue, accord­ing to the organization’s tax fil­ings, and pushed it to greater promi­nence in the broad­er con­ser­v­a­tive media world.

    Start­ed almost two decades ago as a free news­pa­per and web­site with a stat­ed mis­sion to “pro­vide infor­ma­tion to Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties to help immi­grants assim­i­late into Amer­i­can soci­ety,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media fol­low­ings of any news out­let.

    In April, at the height of its ad spend­ing, videos from the Epoch Media Group, which includes The Epoch Times and dig­i­tal video out­let New Tang Dynasty, or NTD, com­bined for around 3 bil­lion views on Face­book, YouTube and Twit­ter, rank­ing 11th among all video cre­ators across plat­forms and out­rank­ing every oth­er tra­di­tion­al news pub­lish­er, accord­ing to data from the social media ana­lyt­ics com­pa­ny Tubu­lar.

    That engage­ment has made The Epoch Times a favorite of the Trump fam­i­ly and a key com­po­nent of the president’s re-elec­tion cam­paign. The president’s Face­book page has post­ed Epoch Times con­tent at least half a dozen times this year— with sev­er­al arti­cles writ­ten by mem­bers of the Trump cam­paign. Don­ald Trump Jr. has tweet­ed sev­er­al of their sto­ries, too.

    In May, Lara Trump, the president’s daugh­ter-in-law, sat down for a 40-minute inter­view in Trump Tow­er with the paper’s senior edi­tor. And for the first time, The Epoch Times was a main play­er at the con­ser­v­a­tive con­fer­ence CPAC this year, where it secured inter­views with mem­bers of Con­gress, Trump Cab­i­net mem­bers and right-wing celebri­ties.
    ...

    Some Falun Gong prac­ti­tion­ers even believe Trump was sent by heav­en to destroy the Com­mu­nist Par­ty. So much like how the the­o­ry that Trump is a god-ordained fig­ured like King Cyrus that’s pop­u­lar with evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians, the Falun Gong also view him as a divine­ly dri­ven fig­ure:

    ...
    Ben Hur­ley is a for­mer Falun Gong prac­ti­tion­er who helped cre­ate Australia’s Eng­lish ver­sion of The Epoch Times out of a liv­ing room in Syd­ney in 2005. He has writ­ten about his expe­ri­ence with the paper and described the ear­ly years as “a giant PR cam­paign” to evan­ge­lize about Falun Gong’s belief in an upcom­ing apoc­a­lypse in which those who think bad­ly of the prac­tice, or well of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, will be destroyed.

    Hur­ley, who wrote for The Epoch Times until he left in 2013, said he saw prac­ti­tion­ers in lead­er­ship posi­tions begin draw­ing hard­er and hard­er lines about accept­able polit­i­cal posi­tions.

    “Their views were always anti-abor­tion and homo­pho­bic, but there was more room for dis­agree­ments in the ear­ly days,” he said.

    Hur­ley said Falun Gong prac­ti­tion­ers saw com­mu­nism every­where: for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton, movie star Jack­ie Chan and for­mer Unit­ed Nations Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Kofi Annan were all con­sid­ered to have sold them­selves out to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, Hur­ley said.

    This kind of cov­er­age fore­shad­owed the news organization’s embrace of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries like QAnon, the over­ar­ch­ing the­o­ry that there is an evil cabal of “deep state” oper­a­tors and child preda­tors out to take down the pres­i­dent.

    “It is so rabid­ly pro-Trump,” Hur­ley said, refer­ring to The Epoch Times. Devout prac­ti­tion­ers of Falun Gong “believe that Trump was sent by heav­en to destroy the Com­mu­nist Par­ty.”
    ...

    It’s also notable how recent this trans­for­ma­tion has been for the Falun Gong’s media empire. In 2016, the Epoch Times actu­al­ly hired a team of sev­en young jour­nal­ists who aren’t con­nect­ed to Falun Gong to pro­duce news and be an ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive answer to “the lib­er­al media”. This entire team was fired a week before the elec­tion:

    ...
    Cam­paign sea­son

    By 2016, The Epoch Times Group appeared to have heed­ed the call from Li to run its oper­a­tion more like a typ­i­cal news orga­ni­za­tion, start­ing with The Epoch Times’ web­site. In March, the com­pa­ny placed job ads on the site Indeed.com and assem­bled a team of sev­en young reporters oth­er­wise uncon­nect­ed to Falun Gong. The aver­age salary for the new recruits was $35,000 a year, paid month­ly, accord­ing to for­mer employ­ees.

    Things seemed “strange,” even from the first day, accord­ing to five for­mer reporters who spoke with NBC News — four of whom asked for anonymi­ty over con­cerns that speak­ing neg­a­tive­ly about their expe­ri­ence would affect their rela­tion­ship with cur­rent and future employ­ers.

    As part of their ori­en­ta­tion, the new reporters watched a video that laid out the Chi­nese per­se­cu­tion of Falun Gong fol­low­ers. The pub­lish­er, Stephen Gre­go­ry, also spoke to the reporters about his vision for the new dig­i­tal ini­tia­tive. The for­mer employ­ees said Gregory’s talk framed The Epoch Times as an answer to the lib­er­al main­stream media.

    Their con­tent was to be crit­i­cal of com­mu­nist Chi­na, clear-eyed about the threat of Islam­ic ter­ror­ism, focused on ille­gal immi­gra­tion and at all times root­ed in “tra­di­tion­al” val­ues, they said. This meant no con­tent about drugs, gay peo­ple or pop­u­lar music.

    The reporters said they worked from desks arranged in a U‑shape in a sin­gle-room office that was sep­a­rat­ed by a locked door from the oth­er staff mem­bers who worked on the paper, dozens of Falun Gong vol­un­teers and interns. The new recruits wrote up to five news sto­ries a day in an effort to meet a quo­ta of 100,000 page views, and sub­mit­ted their work to a hand­ful of edi­tors — a team of two Falun Gong-prac­tic­ing mar­ried cou­ples.

    “Slave labor may not be the right word, but that’s a lot of arti­cles to write in one day,” one for­mer employ­ee said.

    It wasn’t just the amount of writ­ing but also the con­ser­v­a­tive edi­to­r­i­al restric­tions that began to con­cern some of the employ­ees.

    “It’s like we were sup­posed to be fight­ing so-called lib­er­al pro­pa­gan­da by mak­ing our own,” said Steve Klett, who cov­ered the Trump cam­paign for The Epoch Times as his first job in jour­nal­ism. Klett likened The Epoch Times to a Russ­ian troll farm and said his arti­cles were edit­ed to remove out­side crit­i­cism of Trump.

    “The worst was the Pulse shoot­ing,” Klett said, refer­ring to the 2016 mass shoot­ing in which 50 peo­ple includ­ing the gun­man were killed at a gay night­club in Orlan­do, Flori­da. “We weren’t allowed to cov­er sto­ries involv­ing homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, but that bumps up against them want­i­ng to cov­er Islam­ic ter­ror­ism. So I wrote four arti­cles with­out using the word gay.”

    The for­mer employ­ees said Gregory’s talk framed The Epoch Times as an answer to the lib­er­al main­stream media.The for­mer employ­ees said Gregory’s talk framed The Epoch Times as an answer to the lib­er­al main­stream media.

    “I knew I had to for­get about all the worst parts of Trump,” Klett said.

    Klett, how­ev­er, would not end up hav­ing to cov­er the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Eight days before the elec­tion, the team was called togeth­er and fired as a group.

    “I guess the exper­i­ment was over,” a for­mer employ­ee said.
    ...

    By 2017, the rev­enue for NDT had jumped 150% com­pared to 2016. And the secret to its suc­cess was “enthu­si­as­tic sup­port for Trump’s agen­da, and the expo­sure of what the pub­li­ca­tion claims is a labyrinthi­an, glob­al con­spir­a­cy led by Clin­ton and for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma to tear down Trump”. So it was basi­cal­ly just anoth­er right-wing media out­let but a par­tic­u­lar­ly suc­cess­ful one that clear­ly put out con­tent with a high lev­el of appeal to the US right-wing audi­ence online:

    ...
    The con­tent

    The Epoch Times, dig­i­tal pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny NTD and the heav­i­ly adver­tised dance troupe Shen Yun make up the non­prof­it net­work that Li calls “our media.” Finan­cial doc­u­ments paint a com­pli­cat­ed pic­ture of more than a dozen tech­ni­cal­ly sep­a­rate orga­ni­za­tions that appear to share mis­sions, mon­ey and exec­u­tives. Though the source of their rev­enue is unclear, the most recent finan­cial records from each orga­ni­za­tion paint a pic­ture of an over­all busi­ness thriv­ing in the Trump era.

    The Epoch Times brought in $8.1 mil­lion in rev­enue in 2017 — dou­ble what it had the pre­vi­ous year — and report­ed spend­ing $7.2 mil­lion on “print­ing news­pa­per and cre­at­ing web and media pro­grams.” Most of its rev­enue comes from adver­tis­ing and “web and media income,” accord­ing to the group’s annu­al tax fil­ings, while indi­vid­ual dona­tions and sub­scrip­tions to the paper make up less than 10 per­cent of its rev­enue.

    New Tang Dynasty’s 2017 rev­enue, accord­ing to IRS records, was $18 mil­lion, a 150 per­cent increase over the year before. It spent $16.2 mil­lion.

    That expo­nen­tial growth came around the same time The Epoch Times expand­ed its online pres­ence and increased its ad spend­ing, hon­ing its mes­sage on two basic themes: enthu­si­as­tic sup­port for Trump’s agen­da, and the expo­sure of what the pub­li­ca­tion claims is a labyrinthi­an, glob­al con­spir­a­cy led by Clin­ton and for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma to tear down Trump. One such con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, loose­ly called “Spy­gate,” has become a com­mon talk­ing point for Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty and con­ser­v­a­tive news web­sites like Bre­it­bart.

    The paper’s “Spy­gate Spe­cial Cov­er­age” sec­tion, which fre­quent­ly sits atop its web­site, the­o­rizes about a grand, years­long plot in which for­mer Oba­ma and Clin­ton staffers, a hand­ful of mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers, pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors and gov­ern­ment bureau­crats plan to take down the Trump pres­i­den­cy.
    ...

    And in addi­tion to the Epoch Times and NTD, Epoch Times employ­ees also cre­ate the “Edge of Won­der” YouTube chan­nel that released new NTD videos twice a week pro­mot­ing top­ics like QAnon and alien inva­sions:

    ...
    While The Epoch Times usu­al­ly strad­dles the line between an ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive news out­let and a con­spir­a­cy ware­house, some pop­u­lar online shows cre­at­ed by Epoch Times employ­ees and pro­duced by NTD cross the line com­plete­ly, and spread far and wide.

    One such show is “Edge of Won­der,” a ver­i­fied YouTube chan­nel that releas­es new NTD-pro­duced videos twice every week and now has more than 33 mil­lion views. In addi­tion to claims that alien abduc­tions are real and the drug epi­dem­ic was engi­neered by the “deep state,” the chan­nel push­es the QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, which false­ly posits that the same “Spy­gate” cabal is a front for a glob­al pedophile ring being tak­en down by Trump.

    One QAnon video, titled “#QANON — 7 facts the MEDIA (MSM) Won’t Admit” has almost 1 mil­lion views on YouTube. Oth­er videos in the channel’s QAnon playlist, which include videos about 9/11 con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and one titled “13 BLOODLINES & their Dia­bol­i­cal End Game,” gained hun­dreds of thou­sands of views each.

    Travis View, a researcher and pod­cast­er who stud­ies the QAnon move­ment, said The Epoch Times has san­i­tized the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry by push­ing Spy­gate, which drops the wildest and more pruri­ent details of QAnon while retain­ing its con­spir­a­to­r­i­al ele­ments.

    “QAnon is high­ly stig­ma­tized among peo­ple try­ing to push the Spy­gate mes­sage. They know how tox­ic QAnon is,” View said. “Spy­gate leaves out the spir­i­tu­al ele­ments, the child sex traf­fick­ing, but it’s cer­tain­ly inte­gral to the QAnon nar­ra­tive.”
    ...

    So that full embrace of the West­ern far right con­spir­a­cy hoax world­view and the appar­ent belief that Trump is a heav­en-sent fig­ure who will destroy the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, it seems like a pret­ty safe bet that Falun Gong would be eager to pro­mote the spread of Pepe the Frog to the Hong Kong pro­test­ers.

    In relat­ed news, one day after NBC came out with this report, Pres­i­dent Trump looked up to the heav­ens and declared “I am the cho­sen one” in ref­er­ence to his role in US trade dis­pute with Chi­na today‘ dur­ing a press con­fer­ence:

    The Week

    Trump: ‘I am the cho­sen one’

    Kathryn Kraw­czyk
    08/21/2019 12:34 p.m.

    So that just hap­pened.

    Yes, Pres­i­dent Trump, when asked about his ongo­ing trade war with Chi­na, deemed him­self “the cho­sen one” when talk­ing with reporters out­side the White House on Wednes­day. As Trump put it, when it comes to deal­ing with Chi­na’s trade prac­tices, “some­body had to do it.” He then added “I am the cho­sen one” as he looked up to the sky.

    Here’s the clip. Speak­ing about his trade war with Chi­na, Trump looks to the heav­ens and says, “I am the Cho­sen One.” pic.twitter.com/mKWA9g7wzQ

    — David Mack (@davidmackau) August 21, 2019

    The odd com­ment comes just after Trump com­pared him­self to some kind of deity in a Wednes­day morn­ing tweet. He seemed to be watch­ing Wayne Allyn Root’s show on the con­ser­v­a­tive net­work News­max, and tweet­ed a quote from Root say­ing that “the Jew­ish peo­ple in Israel love [Trump] like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the sec­ond com­ing of God.” And the day before, Trump accused “any Jew­ish peo­ple that votes for a Demo­c­rat” of hav­ing “either a total lack of knowl­edge or great dis­loy­al­ty.”

    ———–

    “Trump: ‘I am the cho­sen one’ ” by Kathryn Kraw­czyk, The Week, 08/21/2019

    Yes, that just hap­pened. So it looks like we can add Falun Gong to the list of groups that are try­ing and suc­ceed­ing at influ­enc­ing Trump by declar­ing him a gift from god.

    It’s also worth not­ing that Falun Gong clear­ly does­n’t want Trump to just work out a trade deal with Chi­na. They want him to some­how destroy the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, or at least back up Falun Gong in some upcom­ing apoc­a­lyp­tic bat­tle. It rais­es the ques­tion of what’s going to hap­pen to that Falun Gong sup­port and the mil­lions of dol­lars they’re spend­ing on pro-Trump ads if Trump does actu­al­ly end up sim­ply work­ing out a trade deal with Chi­na. They pre­sum­ably won’t view him as sent from heav­en any more at that point. So that’s an inter­est­ing com­pli­ca­tion in Trump’s trade wars with Chi­na.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 21, 2019, 3:42 pm
  25. The New York Times had an inter­est­ing recent piece on the increas­ing­ly inter­con­nect­ed nature of glob­al far right pro­pa­gan­da net­works. The focus is on Swe­den, in par­tic­u­lar the pro­pa­gan­da back­ing the far right Swe­den Democ­rats.

    As usu­al these days, there’s a dis­pro­por­tion­ate focus on the role Russ­ian media out­lets play in this glob­al net­work. But it’s still an impor­tant piece in terms of lay­ing out increas­ing­ly inter­na­tion­al nature of far right nation­al­ist pro­pa­gan­da efforts. The arti­cle talks about how, while the Swe­den Democ­rats try to frame their brand of far right xeno­pho­bia as a strug­gle over nation­al cul­ture, the par­ty is unde­ni­ably root­ed in Swe­den’s neo-Nazi move­ment and was start­ed in 1988 by open neo-Nazis includ­ing a for­mer Waf­fen SS mem­ber. And ear­ly on the Swe­den Democ­rats sought to coor­di­nate with far right move­ments around the world includ­ing the White Aryan Resis­tance, which was found­ed by a for­mer KKK Grand Drag­on.

    The arti­cle cov­ers how the cur­rent head of the Swe­den Democ­rats, Jim­mie Akesson, made the deci­sion to shed the par­ty’s neo-Nazi image back in 2005. He had arrived at the con­clu­sion that Mus­lim refugees posed “the biggest for­eign threat to Swe­den since the Sec­ond World War,” a rather iron­ic con­clu­sion for a neo-Nazi par­ty. Akesson was also con­vinced that the Swe­den Democ­rats need­ed to rebrand shed their skin­head image to increase the par­ty’s pop­u­lar appeal. So they did a purge of all the most overt­ly neo-Nazi-ish ele­ments of the par­ty and tried to adopt a ‘nation­al­ist, but not eth­nona­tion­list’ pub­lic image that focused on issues like the risks to Swe­den’s safe­ty-net posed by immi­grants. And as the recent elec­tion results that got the Swe­den Democ­rats 18% of the vote (which was some­what of a dis­ap­point­ment giv­en the expec­ta­tions) it’s clear that this strat­e­gy large­ly worked.

    Beyond that, the arti­cle notes that one of the rea­sons the Swe­den Democ­rats under-per­formed expec­ta­tions in the last elec­tion is that the main­stream par­ties have already heav­i­ly adopt­ed so many of the Swe­den Democ­rats’ posi­tions on issues relat­ed to immi­gra­tion. So the Swe­den Democ­rats have already effec­tive­ly won even when they lose. It’s that his­to­ry of the Swe­den Par­ty suc­cess­ful­ly mak­ing the tran­si­tion from a skin­head Nazi par­ty into a ‘pin­striped’ cryp­to-Nazi par­ty that frames its mes­sage in terms of ‘cul­ture’ and ‘sav­ing the social wel­fare state from immi­grants’ that’s parts of why the New York Times sto­ry about the glob­al far right pro­pa­gan­da net­work coor­di­nat­ing with the Swedish far right is so impor­tant. The Swedish far right has a lot to teach the rest far right else­where.

    But anoth­er part of what makes this arti­cle par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant is that Swe­den’s far right has qui­et­ly had an unusu­al­ly impor­tant role in shap­ing glob­al opin­ion in one of the key pro­pa­gan­da areas that has become cen­tral to the rise of the far right glob­al­ly: cyber-lib­er­tar­i­an­ism and the cypher­punk move­ment. This unfor­tu­nate­ly isn’t cov­ered in the arti­cle (it’s too vast a top­ic for a sin­gle arti­cle) but it’s crit­i­cal to keep in mind when ana­lyzes this top­ic.

    As we’ve seen, it was none oth­er than Carl Lund­strom, the Swedish neo-Nazi mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man, who pro­vid­ed financ­ing for The Pirate Bay. Lund­strom also own Rix Tele­com, the com­pa­ny that pro­vid­ed inter­net access to PRQ. PRQ was the com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing web-host­ing ser­vices to The Pirate Bay and was co-found­ed by those very same Pirate Bay founders Fredrik Neij and Got­tfrid Svartholm Warg. PRQ was known to take on any clients, no mat­ter how con­tro­ver­sial, includ­ing NAMBLA.

    Anoth­er client of PRQ’s serv­er host­ing ser­vice was Wik­ileaks. This was ini­tial­ly report­ed in 2008. PRQ con­tin­ued host­ing Wik­ileak­s’s servers until August of 2010. Recall that 2010 was the year Wik­ileaks was strug­gling to stay online after it trig­gered the ire of the US gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the release of the Col­lat­er­al Mur­der video. As Wik­ileaks dis­closed in 2013, Got­tfrid Svartholm Warg was a Wik­ileaks vol­un­teer who worked with Wik­ileaks on the cre­ation of the Col­lat­er­al Mur­der video.

    It’s quite a sig­nif­i­cant set of accom­plish­ments for a neo-Nazi mil­lion­aire. Carl Lund­strom was a lead­ing financier of the Swe­den Democ­rats, a crit­i­cal fig­ure for the oper­a­tions of both The Pirate Bay and Wik­ileaks, two orga­ni­za­tions that pop­u­lar­ized the cypher­punk/­cy­ber-lib­er­tar­i­an phi­los­o­phy and hold close ties to the var­i­ous ‘Pirate’ polit­i­cal par­ties around the globe.

    Now, it’s true that pol­i­tics of the peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with The Pirate Bay or Wik­ileaks is by no means exclu­sive­ly far right. Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde appears to be pret­ty left-wing based on the plat­form of his 2014 run for EU under the Swedish Pirate Par­ty. And the major­i­ty of the vol­un­teers asso­ci­at­ed with Wik­ileaks appear to be quite left-lean­ing too. But there’s no deny­ing that key fig­ures in these move­ments, includ­ing Julian Assange, have repeat­ed­ly sig­naled far right polit­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion. Assange’s ‘oop­sie, tech­ni­cal error’ caused his fledg­ling Wik­ileaks Par­ty to pref­er­ence the right-wing Shoot­ers and Fish­ers Par­ty and the extreme-right Aus­tralia First Par­ty when he was run­ning for Sen­ate in 2013 was an ‘oop­sie’ con­sis­tent with his 2013 dec­la­ra­tion that Rand Paul and the Lib­er­tar­i­an Par­ty rep­re­sent the “only hope” for reform in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. Or Assange’s mas­sive help for Don­ald Trump in 2016. And then there’s Edward Snow­den’s noto­ri­ous­ly right-wing lib­er­tar­i­an pol­i­tics. Assange’s and Snow­den’s qua­si-hid­den far right polit­i­cal sym­pa­thies are sort of like Lund­strom’s role back­ing The Pirate Bay in that it’s out in the open but rarely noticed.

    We also can’t for­get who deeply tied in Bit­coin and the anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ist phi­los­o­phy behind the cryp­tocur­ren­cy move­ment is with the broad­er cyber-lib­er­tar­i­an move­ment advo­cat­ed by these same forces. It’s anoth­er exam­ple of fun­da­men­tal­ly anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic right-wing ‘solu­tions’ get­ting ped­dled as ‘pop­ulist’.

    It’s that con­text of Carl Lund­strom, play­ing a lead­ing in financ­ing the Swe­den Democ­rats dur­ing this peri­od when the par­ty tran­si­tioned from neo-Nazi street thugs to a ‘non-racist’ hyper-xeno­pho­bic qua­si-cryp­to-Nazi move­ment that has fun­da­men­tal­ly shift­ed Swe­den’s pol­i­tics to the right at the same time the far right glob­al­ly has been pig­gy-back­ing on the cyber civ­il rights move­ment to pop­u­lar­ize anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ist lib­er­tar­i­an­ism that’s cru­cial to keep in mind when read­ing the fol­low­ing arti­cle about the rise of Swe­den’s far right online pro­pa­gan­da capa­bil­i­ties:

    The New York Times

    The Glob­al Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nation­al­ism

    Swe­den was long seen as a pro­gres­sive utopia. Then came waves of immi­grants — and the forces of pop­ulism at home and abroad.

    By Jo Beck­er
    Aug 10, 2019

    RINKEBY, Swe­den — John­ny Castil­lo, a Peru­vian-born neigh­bor­hood watch­man in this dis­trict of Stock­holm, still puz­zles over the strange events that two years ago turned the cen­tral square of this pre­dom­i­nant­ly immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty into a sym­bol of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism run amok.

    First came a now-infa­mous com­ment by Pres­i­dent Trump, sug­gest­ing that Sweden’s his­to­ry of wel­com­ing refugees was at the root of a vio­lent attack in Rinke­by the pre­vi­ous evening, even though noth­ing had actu­al­ly hap­pened.

    “You look at what’s hap­pen­ing last night in Swe­den. Swe­den! Who would believe this? Swe­den!” Mr. Trump told sup­port­ers at a ral­ly on Feb. 18, 2017. “They took in large num­bers. They’re hav­ing prob­lems like they nev­er thought pos­si­ble.”

    The president’s source: Fox News, which had excerpt­ed a short film pro­mot­ing a dystopi­an view of Swe­den as a vic­tim of its asy­lum poli­cies, with immi­grant neigh­bor­hoods crime-rid­den “no-go zones.”

    But two days lat­er, as Swedish offi­cials were heap­ing bemused deri­sion on Mr. Trump, some­thing did in fact hap­pen in Rinke­by: Sev­er­al dozen masked men attacked police offi­cers mak­ing a drug arrest, throw­ing rocks and set­ting cars ablaze.

    And it was right around that time, accord­ing to Mr. Castil­lo and four oth­er wit­ness­es, that Russ­ian tele­vi­sion crews showed up, offer­ing to pay immi­grant youths “to make trou­ble” in front of the cam­eras.

    “They want­ed to show that Pres­i­dent Trump is right about Swe­den,” Mr. Castil­lo said, “that peo­ple com­ing to Europe are ter­ror­ists and want to dis­turb soci­ety.”

    That nativist rhetoric — that immi­grants are invad­ing the home­land — has gained ever-greater trac­tion, and polit­i­cal accep­tance, across the West amid dis­lo­ca­tions wrought by vast waves of migra­tion from the Mid­dle East, Africa and Latin Amer­i­ca. In its most extreme form, it is echoed in the online man­i­festo of the man accused of gun­ning down 22 peo­ple last week­end in El Paso.

    In the nation­al­ists’ mes­sage-mak­ing, Swe­den has become a prime cau­tion­ary tale, drip­ping with schaden­freude. What is even more strik­ing is how many peo­ple in Swe­den — pro­gres­sive, egal­i­tar­i­an, wel­com­ing Swe­den — seem to be warm­ing to the nation­al­ists’ view: that immi­gra­tion has brought crime, chaos and a fray­ing of the cher­ished social safe­ty net, not to men­tion a with­er­ing away of nation­al cul­ture and tra­di­tion.

    Fueled by an immi­gra­tion back­lash — Swe­den has accept­ed more refugees per capi­ta than any oth­er Euro­pean coun­try — right-wing pop­ulism has tak­en hold, reflect­ed most promi­nent­ly in the steady ascent of a polit­i­cal par­ty with neo-Nazi roots, the Swe­den Democ­rats. In elec­tions last year, they cap­tured near­ly 18 per­cent of the vote.

    To dig beneath the sur­face of what is hap­pen­ing in Swe­den, though, is to uncov­er the work­ings of an inter­na­tion­al dis­in­for­ma­tion machine, devot­ed to the cul­ti­va­tion, provo­ca­tion and ampli­fi­ca­tion of far-right, anti-immi­grant pas­sions and polit­i­cal forces. Indeed, that machine, most influ­en­tial­ly root­ed in Vladimir V. Putin’s Rus­sia and the Amer­i­can far right, under­scores a fun­da­men­tal irony of this polit­i­cal moment: the glob­al­iza­tion of nation­al­ism.

    The cen­tral tar­get of these manip­u­la­tions from abroad — and the chief instru­ment of the Swedish nation­al­ists’ suc­cess — is the country’s increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar, and vir­u­lent­ly anti-immi­grant, dig­i­tal echo cham­ber.

    A New York Times exam­i­na­tion of its con­tent, per­son­nel and traf­fic pat­terns illus­trates how for­eign state and non­state actors have helped to give viral momen­tum to a clutch of Swedish far-right web­sites.

    Russ­ian and West­ern enti­ties that traf­fic in dis­in­for­ma­tion, includ­ing an Islama­pho­bic think tank whose for­mer chair­man is now Mr. Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, have been cru­cial link­ers to the Swedish sites, help­ing to spread their mes­sage to sus­cep­ti­ble Swedes.

    At least six Swedish sites have received finan­cial back­ing through adver­tis­ing rev­enue from a Russ­ian- and Ukrain­ian-owned auto-parts busi­ness based in Berlin, whose online sales net­work odd­ly con­tains buried dig­i­tal links to a range of far-right and oth­er social­ly divi­sive con­tent.

    Writ­ers and edi­tors for the Swedish sites have been befriend­ed by the Krem­lin. And in one strange Rube Gold­ber­gian chain of events, a fre­quent Ger­man con­trib­u­tor to one Swedish site has been impli­cat­ed in the financ­ing of a bomb­ing in Ukraine, in a sus­pect­ed Russ­ian false-flag oper­a­tion.

    The dis­tort­ed view of Swe­den pumped out by this dis­in­for­ma­tion machine has been used, in turn, by anti-immi­grant par­ties in Britain, Ger­many, Italy and else­where to stir xeno­pho­bia and gin up votes, accord­ing to the Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue, a Lon­don-based non­prof­it that tracks the online spread of far-right extrem­ism.

    “I’d put Swe­den up there with the anti-Soros cam­paign,” said Chloe Col­liv­er, a researcher for the insti­tute, refer­ring to anti-Semit­ic attacks on George Soros, the bil­lion­aire bene­fac­tor of lib­er­al caus­es. “It’s become an endur­ing cen­ter­piece of the far-right con­ver­sa­tion.”

    From Mar­gins to Main­stream

    Mat­tias Karls­son, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ inter­na­tion­al sec­re­tary and chief ide­ol­o­gist, likes to tell the sto­ry of how he became a sol­dier in what he has described as the “exis­ten­tial bat­tle for our culture’s and our nation’s sur­vival.”

    It was the mid-1990s and Mr. Karls­son, now 41, was attend­ing high school in the south­ern city of Vaxjo. Swe­den was accept­ing a record num­ber of refugees from the Balkan War and oth­er con­flicts. In Vaxjo and else­where, young immi­grant men began join­ing brawl­ing “kick­er” gangs, rad­i­cal­iz­ing Mr. Karls­son and draw­ing him toward the local skin­head scene.

    He took to wear­ing a leather jack­et with a Swedish flag on the back and was soon intro­duced to Mats Nils­son, a Swedish Nation­al Social­ist leader who gave him a copy of “Mein Kampf.” They began to debate: Mr. Nils­son argued that the goal should be eth­nic puri­ty — the preser­va­tion of “Swedish DNA.” Mr. Karls­son coun­tered that the focus should be on pre­serv­ing nation­al cul­ture and iden­ti­ty. That, he said, was when Mr. Nils­son con­ferred on him an epi­thet of insuf­fi­cient com­mit­ment to the cause — “meat­ball patri­ot,” mean­ing that “I thought that every African or Arab can come to this coun­try as long as they assim­i­late and eat meat­balls.”

    It is an account that offers the most benign expla­na­tion for an odi­ous asso­ci­a­tion. What­ev­er the case, in 1999, he joined the Swe­den Democ­rats, a par­ty unde­ni­ably root­ed in Sweden’s neo-Nazi move­ment. Indeed, schol­ars of the far right say that is what sets it apart from most anti-immi­gra­tion par­ties in Europe and makes its rise from mar­gin­al­ized to main­stream so remark­able.

    The par­ty was found­ed in 1988 by sev­er­al Nazi ide­o­logues, includ­ing a for­mer mem­ber of the Waf­fen SS. Ear­ly on, it sought inter­na­tion­al alliances with the likes of the White Aryan Resis­tance, a white suprema­cist group found­ed by a for­mer grand drag­on of the Ku Klux Klan. Some Swe­den Democ­rats wore Nazi uni­forms to par­ty func­tions. Its plat­form includ­ed the forced repa­tri­a­tion of all immi­grants since 1970.

    That was not, how­ev­er, a win­ning for­mu­la in a coun­try where social democ­rats have dom­i­nat­ed every elec­tion for more than a cen­tu­ry.

    While attend­ing uni­ver­si­ty, Mr. Karls­son had met Jim­mie Akesson, who took over the Swe­den Democ­rats’ youth par­ty in 2000 and became par­ty leader in 2005. Mr. Akesson was out­spo­ken in his belief that Mus­lim refugees posed “the biggest for­eign threat to Swe­den since the Sec­ond World War.” But to make that case effec­tive­ly, he and Mr. Karls­son agreed, they need­ed to remake the party’s image.

    “We need­ed to real­ly address our past,” Mr. Karls­son said.

    They purged neo-Nazis who had been exposed by the press. They announced a “zero tol­er­ance” pol­i­cy toward extreme xeno­pho­bia and racism, empha­sized their youth­ful lead­er­ship and urged mem­bers to dress pre­sentably. And while immi­gra­tion remained at the cen­ter of their plat­form, they mod­er­at­ed the way they talked about it.

    No longer was the issue framed in terms of keep­ing cer­tain eth­nic groups out, or deport­ing those already in. Rather it was about how unas­sim­i­lat­ed migrants were evis­cer­at­ing not just the nation’s cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty but also the social-wel­fare heart of the Swedish state.

    Under the grand, egal­i­tar­i­an idea of the “folkhem­met,” or people’s home, in which the coun­try is a fam­i­ly and its cit­i­zens take care of one anoth­er, Swedes pay among the world’s high­est effec­tive tax rates, in return for ben­e­fits like child care, health care, free col­lege edu­ca­tion and assis­tance when they grow old.

    The safe­ty net has come under strain for a host of eco­nom­ic and demo­graph­ic rea­sons, many of which pre­date the lat­est refugee flood. But in the Swe­den Democ­rats’ telling, the blame lies square­ly at the feet of the for­eign­ers, many of whom lag far behind native Swedes in edu­ca­tion and eco­nom­ic accom­plish­ment. One par­ty adver­tise­ment depict­ed a white woman try­ing to col­lect ben­e­fits while being pur­sued by niqab-wear­ing immi­grants push­ing strollers.

    To what extent the party’s makeover is just win­dow dress­ing is an open ques­tion.

    The doubts were high­light­ed in what became known as “the Iron Pipe Scan­dal” in 2012. Leaked video showed two Swe­den Demo­c­rat MPs and the party’s can­di­date for attor­ney gen­er­al hurl­ing racist slurs at a come­di­an of Kur­dish descent, then threat­en­ing a drunk­en wit­ness with iron pipes.

    High-rank­ing par­ty offi­cials have bounced between Swe­den and Hun­gary, ruled by the author­i­tar­i­an nation­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban. Mr. Karls­son him­self has come under fire for call­ing out an extrem­ist site as neo-fas­cist while using an alias to rec­om­mend posts as “worth read­ing” to par­ty mem­bers.

    “There’s a pub­lic face and the face they wear behind closed doors,” said Daniel Poohl, who heads Expo, a Stock­holm-based foun­da­tion that tracks far-right extrem­ism.

    Still, even detrac­tors admit that strat­e­gy has worked. In 2010, the Swe­den Democ­rats cap­tured 5.7 per­cent of the vote, enough for the par­ty, and Mr. Karls­son, to enter Par­lia­ment for the first time. That share has steadi­ly increased along with the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of refugees. (Today, rough­ly 20 per­cent of Sweden’s pop­u­la­tion is for­eign born.)

    At its peak in 2015, Swe­den accept­ed 163,000 asy­lum-seek­ers, most­ly from Afghanistan, Soma­lia and Syr­ia. Though bor­der con­trols and tighter rules have eased that flow, Ardalan Shekara­bi, the country’s pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion min­is­ter, acknowl­edged that his gov­ern­ment had been slow to act.

    Mr. Shekara­bi, an immi­grant from Iran, said the sheer num­ber of refugees had over­whelmed the government’s efforts to inte­grate them.

    “I absolute­ly don’t think that the major­i­ty of Swedes have racist or xeno­pho­bic views, but they had ques­tions about this migra­tion pol­i­cy and the oth­er par­ties didn’t have any answers,” he said. “Which is one of the rea­sons why Swe­den Democ­rats had a case.”

    A Right-Wing Echo Cham­ber

    As the 2018 elec­tions approached, Swedish coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence was on high alert for for­eign inter­fer­ence. Rus­sia, the hulk­ing neigh­bor to the east, was seen as the main threat. After the Kremlin’s med­dling in the 2016 Amer­i­can elec­tion, Swe­den had rea­son to fear it could be next.

    “Russia’s goal is to weak­en West­ern coun­tries by polar­iz­ing the debate,” said Daniel Sten­ling, the Swedish Secu­ri­ty Service’s coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence chief. “For the last five years, we have seen more and more aggres­sive intel­li­gence work against our nation.”

    But as it turned out, there was no hack­ing and dump­ing of inter­nal cam­paign doc­u­ments, as in the Unit­ed States. Nor was there an overt effort to swing the elec­tion to the Swe­den Democ­rats, per­haps because the par­ty, in keep­ing with Swedish pop­u­lar opin­ion, has become more crit­i­cal of the Krem­lin than some of its far-right Euro­pean coun­ter­parts.

    Instead, secu­ri­ty offi­cials say, the for­eign influ­ence cam­paign took a dif­fer­ent, more sub­tle form: help­ing nur­ture Sweden’s rapid­ly evolv­ing far-right dig­i­tal ecosys­tem.

    For years, the Swe­den Democ­rats had strug­gled to make their case to the pub­lic. Many main­stream media out­lets declined their ads. The par­ty even had dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting the postal ser­vice to deliv­er its mail­ers. So it built a net­work of closed Face­book pages whose reach would ulti­mate­ly exceed that of any oth­er par­ty.

    But to thrive in the viral sense, that net­work required fresh, allur­ing con­tent. It drew on a clutch of rel­a­tive­ly new web­sites whose pop­u­lar­i­ty was explod­ing.

    Mem­bers of the Swe­den Democ­rats helped cre­ate two of them: Samhall­snytt (News in Soci­ety) and Nyheter Idag (News Today). By the 2018 elec­tion year, they, along with a site called Fria Tider (Free Times), were among Sweden’s 10 most shared news sites.

    These sites each reached one-tenth of all Swedish inter­net users a week and, accord­ing to an Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty study, account­ed for 85 per­cent of the elec­tion-relat­ed “junk news” — deemed delib­er­ate­ly dis­tort­ed or mis­lead­ing — shared online. There were oth­er sites, too, all inject­ing anti-immi­grant and Islam­o­pho­bic mes­sag­ing into the Swedish polit­i­cal blood­stream.

    “Immi­gra­tion Behind Short­age of Drink­ing Water in North­ern Stock­holm,” read one recent head­line. “Refugee Minor Raped Host Family’s Daugh­ter; Thought It Was Legal,” read anoth­er. “Per­formed Female Gen­i­tal Muti­la­tion on Her Chil­dren — Giv­en Asy­lum in Swe­den,” read a third.

    Russia’s hand in all of this is large­ly hid­den from view. But fin­ger­prints abound.

    For instance, one writer for Samhall­snytt, who pre­vi­ous­ly worked for the Swe­den Democ­rats, was recent­ly declined par­lia­men­tary press accred­i­ta­tion after the secu­ri­ty police deter­mined he had been in con­tact with Russ­ian intel­li­gence.

    Fria Tider is con­sid­ered not only one of the most extreme sites, but also among the most Krem­lin-friend­ly. It fre­quent­ly swaps mate­r­i­al with the Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da out­let Sput­nik. The site is linked, via domain own­er­ship records, to Granskn­ing Sverige, called the Swedish “troll fac­to­ry” for its efforts to entrap and embar­rass main­stream jour­nal­ists. Among its fre­quent tar­gets: jour­nal­ists who write neg­a­tive­ly about Rus­sia.

    “We’ve had death threats, spam attacks, emails — this year has been total­ly crazy,” said Eva Bur­man, the edi­tor of Eskil­stu­na-Kuriren, a news­pa­per that found itself in the cross hairs after crit­i­ciz­ing the Russ­ian annex­a­tion of Crimea and inves­ti­gat­ing Granskn­ing Sverige itself.

    At the mag­a­zine Nya Tider, the edi­tor, Vavra Suk, has trav­eled to Moscow as an elec­tion observ­er and to Syr­ia, where he pro­duced Krem­lin-friend­ly accounts of the civ­il war. Nya Tider has pub­lished work by Alexan­der Dug­in, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist Russ­ian philoso­pher who has been called “Putin’s Rasputin”; Mr. Suk’s writ­ings for Mr. Dugin’s think tank include one titled “Don­ald Trump Can Make Europe Great Again.”

    Nya Tider’s con­trib­u­tors include Manuel Ochsen­re­it­er, edi­tor of Zuerst!, a Ger­man far-right news­pa­per. Mr. Ochsen­re­it­er — who has appeared reg­u­lar­ly on RT, the Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da chan­nel — worked until recent­ly for Markus Frohn­maier, a mem­ber of the Ger­man Bun­destag rep­re­sent­ing the far-right Alter­na­tive for Ger­many par­ty. Doc­u­ments leaked to a con­sor­tium of Euro­pean media out­lets — doc­u­ments that Mr. Frohn­maier has called fake — have sug­gest­ed that Moscow aid­ed his elec­tion cam­paign in order to have an “absolute­ly con­trolled MP.”

    Mr. Ochsen­re­it­er, for his part, has been impli­cat­ed in Pol­ish court in the financ­ing of a 2018 fire­bomb­ing attack on a Hun­gar­i­an cul­tur­al cen­ter in Ukraine. The plot, accord­ing to tes­ti­mo­ny from a Pol­ish extrem­ist charged with car­ry­ing it out, was designed to pin respon­si­bil­i­ty on Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists and stoke eth­nic ten­sions, to Russia’s ben­e­fit. Mr. Ochsen­re­it­er has not been charged in Poland, but pros­e­cu­tors in Berlin said they had begun a pre­lim­i­nary inves­ti­ga­tion. He has denied involve­ment.

    Mr. Suk declined to com­ment.

    Then there is Nyheter Idag. Its founder, Chang Frick — a for­mer Swe­den Demo­c­rat offi­cial who takes a maverick’s glee in his defi­ance of ortho­doxy — read­i­ly admits to hav­ing con­tributed to an RT sub­sidiary. At a piz­za shop near his home one after­noon, he point­ed­ly not­ed that his girl­friend was Russ­ian and, with a flour­ish, pulled out a wad of rubles from a recent trip.

    “Here is my real boss! It’s Putin!” he laughed.

    But Mr. Frick, the son of a Swedish Roma and a Pol­ish Jew, said Nyheter Idag answered to no one, nei­ther the Swe­den Democ­rats nor the Krem­lin, though he added that his relent­less report­ing about the prob­lems posed by immi­grants dove­tailed with both their agen­das.

    “Peo­ple can see what’s hap­pen­ing in the streets,” he said, adding, “I’ve been accused of being a racist — I’m being ‘paid by the Swe­den Democ­rats,’ I’m ‘a spy for Rus­sia.’ That just tells me I’m kick­ing where it hurts.”

    Still, he said he had rea­son to believe that “there is a lit­tle bit of col­lu­sion between Rus­sia and some Swedish right-wing media.” One of his ear­ly scoops involved expos­ing the drink­ing and wom­an­iz­ing shenani­gans of a Swe­den Demo­c­rat mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who had been invit­ed to Moscow. Dur­ing that report­ing trip, he said, he was invit­ed to serve as an inde­pen­dent observ­er in Russia’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and to meet Mr. Putin.

    He declined the invi­ta­tion.

    There is anoth­er curi­ous Russ­ian com­mon denom­i­na­tor: Six of Sweden’s alt-right sites have drawn adver­tis­ing rev­enue from a net­work of online auto-parts stores based in Ger­many and owned by four busi­ness­men from Rus­sia and Ukraine, three of whom have adopt­ed Ger­man-sound­ing sur­names.

    The ads were first noticed by the Swedish news­pa­per Dagens Nyheter, which dis­cov­ered that while they appeared to be for a vari­ety of out­lets, all traced back to the same Berlin address and were owned by a par­ent com­pa­ny, Autodoc GmbH.

    The Times found that the com­pa­ny had also placed ads on anti-Semit­ic and oth­er extrem­ist sites in Ger­many, Hun­gary, Aus­tria and else­where in Europe.

    Which raised a ques­tion: Was the auto-parts deal­er sim­ply try­ing to drum up busi­ness, or was it also try­ing to sup­port the far-right cause?

    Rikard Lind­holm, co-founder of a data-dri­ven mar­ket­ing firm who has worked with Swedish author­i­ties to com­bat dis­in­for­ma­tion, dug deep­er into the Autodoc net­work.

    Hid­den beneath the user-friend­ly inter­face of some of the ear­li­est Autodoc sites lay what Mr. Lind­holm, an expert in the foren­sic analy­sis of online traf­fic, described as “ice­bergs” of blog-like con­tent com­plete­ly unre­lat­ed to auto parts, trans­lat­ed into a vari­ety of lan­guages. A vis­i­tor to one of the car-parts sites could not sim­ply access this con­tent from the home page; instead, one had to know and type in the full URL.

    “It’s like they have a back door and it’s open and you can have a look around, but to do that you have to know that the door is there,” Mr. Lind­holm said.

    Much of the con­tent was not polit­i­cal. But there were links to posts about a range of divi­sive social issues, some of them trans­lat­ed into oth­er lan­guages. One hid­den link — about female gen­i­tal muti­la­tion in Mus­lim coun­tries — had been trans­lat­ed from Eng­lish to Pol­ish before being post­ed. Yet anoth­er post, from a site called AnsweringIslam.net, con­clud­ed, “Islam hates you.”

    Thomas Casper, a spokesman for Autodoc, said the com­pa­ny had no “inter­est at all in sup­port­ing alt-right media,” and added, “We vehe­ment­ly oppose racism and far-right prin­ci­ples.”

    He said the company’s dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing team worked with third par­ties to place ads on “trust­ed web­sites with sub­stan­tial traf­fic.” Autodoc, he said, had insti­tut­ed con­trols to try to ensure that it no longer adver­tised on far-right sites.

    As for the ice­bergs, after receiv­ing The Times’s inquiry, the com­pa­ny removed what Mr. Casper called the “obvi­ous­ly dubi­ous and out­dat­ed con­tent.” It had orig­i­nal­ly been placed there, he said, to improve search engine opti­miza­tion.

    But Mr. Lind­holm said that made no sense. “By link­ing to irrel­e­vant con­tent, it actu­al­ly hurts their busi­ness because Google frowns on that,” he said.

    Links Abroad

    Anoth­er way to look inside the explo­sive growth of Sweden’s alt-right out­lets is to see who is link­ing to them. The more links, espe­cial­ly from well-traf­ficked out­lets, the more like­ly Google is to rank the sites as author­i­ta­tive. That, in turn, means that Swedes are more like­ly to see them when they search for, say, immi­gra­tion and crime.

    The Times ana­lyzed more than 12 mil­lion avail­able links from over 18,000 domains to four promi­nent far-right sites — Nyheter Idag, Samhall­snytt, Fria Tider and Nya Tider. The data was culled by Mr. Lind­holm from two search engine opti­miza­tion tools and rep­re­sents a snap­shot of all known links through July 2.

    As expect­ed, giv­en the rel­a­tive pauci­ty of Swedish speak­ers world­wide, most of the links came from Swedish-lan­guage sites.

    But the analy­sis turned up a sur­pris­ing num­ber of links from well-traf­ficked for­eign-lan­guage sites — which sug­gests that the Swedish sites’ rapid growth has been dri­ven to a sig­nif­i­cant degree from abroad.

    “It has the mak­ings, the char­ac­ter­is­tics, of an oper­a­tion whose pur­pose or goal is to help these sites become rel­e­vant by get­ting them to be seen as wide­ly as pos­si­ble,” Mr. Lind­holm said.

    Over all, more than one in five links were from non-Swedish lan­guage sites. Eng­lish-lan­guage sites, along with Nor­we­gian ones, linked the most, near­ly a mil­lion times. But oth­er Euro­pean-lan­guage far-right sites — Russ­ian but also Czech, Dan­ish, Ger­man, Finnish and Pol­ish — were also fre­quent link­ers.

    The Times iden­ti­fied 356 domains that linked to all four Swedish sites.

    Many are well known in Amer­i­can far-right cir­cles. Among them is the Gate­stone Insti­tute, a think tank whose site reg­u­lar­ly stokes fears about Mus­lims in the Unit­ed States and Europe. Its chair­man until last year was John R. Bolton, now Mr. Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, and its fun­ders have includ­ed Rebekah Mer­cer, a promi­nent wealthy Trump sup­port­er.

    Oth­er domains that linked to all four Swedish sites includ­ed Storm­front, one of the old­est and largest Amer­i­can white suprema­cist sites; Voice of Europe, a Krem­lin-friend­ly right-wing site; a Russ­ian-lan­guage blog called Sweden4Rus.nu; and FreieWelt.net, a site sup­port­ive of the AfD in Ger­many.

    This loose­ly knit glob­al net­work does not just help increase read­er­ship in Swe­den; researchers have tracked how Russ­ian state out­lets like RT and Sput­nik, along with West­ern plat­forms like Infowars and Bre­it­bart, have picked up and ampli­fied Swedish immi­gra­tion-relat­ed sto­ries to gal­va­nize xeno­pho­bia among their audi­ences.

    Bjorn Palmertz, a dis­in­for­ma­tion spe­cial­ist at the Swedish Defense Uni­ver­si­ty, said this “infor­ma­tion laun­dry” had result­ed in glob­al­ly viral sto­ries like the one about the Swedish town that allowed a mosque to issue calls to prayer while deny­ing a church’s appli­ca­tion to ring its bells — nev­er mind that the church had not applied.

    “Swe­den is por­trayed either as a heav­en or a hell,” said Anni­ka Rem­be, Sweden’s con­sul gen­er­al in New York. “But con­ser­v­a­tive val­ue-based politi­cians in Hun­gary, Poland, the Unit­ed States and else­where would use Swe­den as an exam­ple of a failed state: If you fol­low this path, your soci­ety will look like Sweden’s.”

    The ‘Vil­lage of the World’

    The audi­to­ri­um at Rinke­byskolan, a mid­dle school across the street from Rinkeby’s town square, filled rapid­ly. Women wear­ing hijabs and burqas spilled in, tak­ing their seats on the left. Men sat to the right. From the speak­ers came the voice of an imam read­ing from the Quran.

    Devel­oped as part of a 1960s-era gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive to build a mil­lion afford­able dwellings, Rinke­by was orig­i­nal­ly home to a mix of Swedes and labor­ers from south­ern Europe. Over time it became known as Sweden’s “Vil­lage of the World,” with peo­ple from more than 100 coun­tries liv­ing in drab, low-slung apart­ment blocks. Today, more than 91 per­cent of Rinkeby’s rough­ly 16,400 res­i­dents are immi­grants and their chil­dren.

    At a long table in front of the audi­to­ri­um sat Niclas Ander­s­son, a tow­er­ing man who serves as Rinkeby’s police chief. Once prayers con­clud­ed, the audi­ence began pep­per­ing him with ques­tions.

    Some wor­ried about drug traf­fick­ing inside the apart­ment com­plex­es, oth­ers about the preva­lence of guns. Could the police install more cam­eras?

    To be sure, Mr. Ander­s­son said in an inter­view after­ward, there were prob­lems in Rinke­by, his post­ing for 18 years. But it is hard­ly the hellscape that nation­al­ists bent on paint­ing Swe­den as a failed state hold it out to be.

    Many new­com­ers still strug­gle to get a foothold in the job mar­ket, so unem­ploy­ment is rel­a­tive­ly high, at 8.8 per­cent. And in the larg­er Rinke­by-Kista bor­ough, there were 825 report­ed episodes of vio­lent crime last year, a rate 36 per­cent high­er per capi­ta than Stock­holm as a whole.

    But Mr. Ander­s­son does not rec­og­nize the Rinke­by por­trayed in the movie — direct­ed by a film­mak­er who has shot polit­i­cal ads for Repub­li­cans in Con­gress — that led Mr. Trump to make his “last night in Swe­den” remarks. Rinke­by is not a no-go zone, Mr. Ander­s­son said, an asser­tion sup­port­ed by the film’s chief cam­era­man, who has acknowl­edged that offi­cers who seemed to sug­gest oth­er­wise had been edit­ed out of con­text.

    In fact, the num­ber of police offi­cers in Rinke­by has more than quadru­pled since 2015. Assaults and rob­beries are down, Mr. Ander­s­son said. Fatal shoot­ings are down, too — of 11 in Stock­holm last year, one was in Rinke­by. Nation­al­ly, the vio­lent crime rate is one-fifth that of the Unit­ed States.

    “It was a heav­i­ly slant­ed pic­ture,” Mr. Ander­s­son said. “You zero in on a cou­ple of inci­dents, then use that to describe the whole area.”

    By the time Mr. Trump zeroed in on Rinke­by, “the gov­ern­ment was tack­ling the prob­lems,” said Amela Mahovic, a local reporter for Swedish pub­lic tele­vi­sion. When the actu­al clash broke out soon after, she said, com­mu­ni­ty elders spread the word to local youths: “You need to stop this.”

    But soon, they said, they found that out­side forces want­ed the world to see a dif­fer­ent pic­ture.

    Guleed Mohamed, then a researcher for pub­lic tele­vi­sion, said he had spo­ken to a report­ing team from Rus­sia and Ukraine in Rinke­by Square that week and had tried to ask about Rus­sia.

    “They changed the sub­ject to how mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism doesn’t work,” he recalled. “And then they quick­ly con­nect­ed that to the clash — ‘I want to talk about the riot. Don’t you think this is con­nect­ed to the influx of migrants?’”

    Hani Al Saleh, a Syr­i­an who came to Swe­den as a teenag­er, was work­ing as a guard in Rinke­by. Tall and mus­cu­lar with a sculpt­ed beard, Mr. Saleh is known as “Amo,” or uncle, by the local youth. He said three young immi­grants he knew told him that Russ­ian jour­nal­ists had tried to bribe them with 400 kro­nor (about $43) apiece.

    “Boys, do you want to do some action in front of the cam­era?” they said the Russ­ian jour­nal­ists asked them.

    Mr. Saleh lat­er took a Dan­ish jour­nal­ist to meet two of the young men. After search­ing online, they rec­og­nized the logo of the Russ­ian state-owned news chan­nel NTV, along with the Rus­sians who had made the offer.

    The jour­nal­ist con­tact­ed NTV, which denied the whole thing. But besides Mr. Castil­lo, the night watch­man, The Times found oth­er wit­ness­es who backed up Mr. Saleh’s account.

    Elvir Kazinic and Mustafa Zatara said they were in the square a cou­ple of days after the clash when they over­heard anoth­er group of young men talk­ing about Russ­ian jour­nal­ists and a 400 kro­na bribe to fight.

    “To stoop to that lev­el and offer kids mon­ey,” said Mr. Kazinic, a Bosn­ian émi­gré who serves on Rinkeby’s dis­trict coun­cil, “that is low.”

    Mr. Zatara, a poet, knows well the con­se­quences of stir­ring up anti-immi­grant racism. His father, Hasan Zatara, a Pales­tin­ian, came to Swe­den in 1969, earned a high school diplo­ma and opened a con­ve­nience store.

    Stand­ing behind the cash reg­is­ter on a Jan­u­ary after­noon 27 years ago, he became the final vic­tim of John Auso­nius, a ser­i­al shoot­er who ter­ror­ized immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, killing one per­son and wound­ing 10 oth­ers. Hasan Zatara was par­a­lyzed.

    Mr. Auso­nius lat­er said he was inspired by the anti-immi­grant par­ty of the day, New Democ­ra­cy.

    “When my father was shot in 1992, we had New Democ­ra­cy,” Mustafa Zatara said. “Today we have the Swe­den Democ­rats. Then, they wore bomber jack­ets and boots. Today, they wear bow ties and suits. It’s nor­mal­ized now in the Swedish polit­i­cal cor­ri­dor.”

    Build­ing a Coali­tion

    After the com­mo­tion in Rinke­by died down, Russ­ian news agen­cies kept call­ing the police, fruit­less­ly ask­ing per­mis­sion to ride with offi­cers patrolling the dis­trict.

    “This went on week in and week out,” said Varg Gyl­lan­der, the department’s press offi­cer.

    Last Sep­tem­ber, right after the Swedish elec­tions, the requests abrupt­ly stopped.

    The Swe­den Democ­rats had their best show­ing yet. Their near­ly 18 per­cent share of the vote ham­strung Swedish pol­i­tics, with the main­stream par­ties unable to form a gov­ern­ment for more than four months.

    The Social Democ­rats final­ly formed a shaky coali­tion that exclud­ed the Swe­den Democ­rats. But it came at a price: some promi­nent cen­ter-right politi­cians are now express­ing a will­ing­ness to work with the Swe­den Democ­rats, por­tend­ing a new polit­i­cal align­ment.

    In Feb­ru­ary, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ Mr. Karls­son strode into a Wash­ing­ton-area hotel where lead­ers of the Amer­i­can and Euro­pean right were gath­er­ing for the annu­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence. As he set­tled in at the lob­by bar, straight­en­ing his navy three-piece suit, he was clear­ly very much at home.

    At the con­fer­ence — where polit­i­cal boot-camp train­ing mixed with speech­es by lumi­nar­ies like Mr. Trump and the British pop­ulist leader Nigel Farage — Mr. Karls­son hoped to learn about the infra­struc­ture of the Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly its fund­ing and use of the media and think tanks to broad­en its appeal. But in a mea­sure of how nation­al­ism and con­ser­vatism have merged in Mr. Trump’s Wash­ing­ton, many of the Amer­i­cans with whom he want­ed to net­work were just as eager to net­work with him.

    Mr. Karls­son had flown in from Col­orado, where he had giv­en a speech at the Steam­boat Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank. That morn­ing, Tobias Ander­s­son, 23, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ youngest mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and a con­trib­u­tor to Bre­it­bart, had spo­ken to Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform, a bas­tion of tax-cut ortho­doxy.

    Now, they found them­selves encir­cled by admir­ers like Matthew Hurtt, the direc­tor for exter­nal rela­tion­ships at Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, part of the bil­lion­aire Koch broth­ers’ polit­i­cal oper­a­tion, and Matthew Tyr­mand, a board mem­ber of Project Ver­i­tas, a con­ser­v­a­tive group that uses under­cov­er film­ing to sting its tar­gets.

    Mr. Tyr­mand, who is also an advis­er to a sen­a­tor from Poland’s anti-immi­gra­tion rul­ing Law and Jus­tice par­ty, was par­tic­u­lar­ly eager. “You are tak­ing your coun­try back!” he exclaimed.

    Mr. Karls­son smiled.

    ———-

    “The Glob­al Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nation­al­ism” by Jo Beck­er; The New York Times; 08/10/2019

    “To dig beneath the sur­face of what is hap­pen­ing in Swe­den, though, is to uncov­er the work­ings of an inter­na­tion­al dis­in­for­ma­tion machine, devot­ed to the cul­ti­va­tion, provo­ca­tion and ampli­fi­ca­tion of far-right, anti-immi­grant pas­sions and polit­i­cal forces. Indeed, that machine, most influ­en­tial­ly root­ed in Vladimir V. Putin’s Rus­sia and the Amer­i­can far right, under­scores a fun­da­men­tal irony of this polit­i­cal moment: the glob­al­iza­tion of nation­al­ism.

    The glob­al­iza­tion of far right nation­al­ism fueled by the glob­al­iza­tion of far right dis­in­for­ma­tion that rebrands tra­di­tion­al far right eth­nona­tion­al­ist Nazi-style ide­olo­gies as ‘pop­ulist’ move­ments sim­ply opposed to the dan­gers of immi­gra­tion that threat­en the wel­fare state. It’s one of the biggest polit­i­cal trends of the 21st cen­tu­ry and the Swe­den Democ­rats have been in many respects lead­ing the way on this effort for well over a decade. A par­ty root­ed in Swe­den’s neo-Nazi scene has man­aged main­stream itself:

    ...
    The cen­tral tar­get of these manip­u­la­tions from abroad — and the chief instru­ment of the Swedish nation­al­ists’ suc­cess — is the country’s increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar, and vir­u­lent­ly anti-immi­grant, dig­i­tal echo cham­ber.

    ...

    From Mar­gins to Main­stream

    Mat­tias Karls­son, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ inter­na­tion­al sec­re­tary and chief ide­ol­o­gist, likes to tell the sto­ry of how he became a sol­dier in what he has described as the “exis­ten­tial bat­tle for our culture’s and our nation’s sur­vival.”

    ...

    It is an account that offers the most benign expla­na­tion for an odi­ous asso­ci­a­tion. What­ev­er the case, in 1999, he joined the Swe­den Democ­rats, a par­ty unde­ni­ably root­ed in Sweden’s neo-Nazi move­ment. Indeed, schol­ars of the far right say that is what sets it apart from most anti-immi­gra­tion par­ties in Europe and makes its rise from mar­gin­al­ized to main­stream so remark­able.

    The par­ty was found­ed in 1988 by sev­er­al Nazi ide­o­logues, includ­ing a for­mer mem­ber of the Waf­fen SS. Ear­ly on, it sought inter­na­tion­al alliances with the likes of the White Aryan Resis­tance, a white suprema­cist group found­ed by a for­mer grand drag­on of the Ku Klux Klan. Some Swe­den Democ­rats wore Nazi uni­forms to par­ty func­tions. Its plat­form includ­ed the forced repa­tri­a­tion of all immi­grants since 1970.

    That was not, how­ev­er, a win­ning for­mu­la in a coun­try where social democ­rats have dom­i­nat­ed every elec­tion for more than a cen­tu­ry.

    While attend­ing uni­ver­si­ty, Mr. Karls­son had met Jim­mie Akesson, who took over the Swe­den Democ­rats’ youth par­ty in 2000 and became par­ty leader in 2005. Mr. Akesson was out­spo­ken in his belief that Mus­lim refugees posed “the biggest for­eign threat to Swe­den since the Sec­ond World War.” But to make that case effec­tive­ly, he and Mr. Karls­son agreed, they need­ed to remake the party’s image.

    “We need­ed to real­ly address our past,” Mr. Karls­son said.

    They purged neo-Nazis who had been exposed by the press. They announced a “zero tol­er­ance” pol­i­cy toward extreme xeno­pho­bia and racism, empha­sized their youth­ful lead­er­ship and urged mem­bers to dress pre­sentably. And while immi­gra­tion remained at the cen­ter of their plat­form, they mod­er­at­ed the way they talked about it.

    No longer was the issue framed in terms of keep­ing cer­tain eth­nic groups out, or deport­ing those already in. Rather it was about how unas­sim­i­lat­ed migrants were evis­cer­at­ing not just the nation’s cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty but also the social-wel­fare heart of the Swedish state.

    Under the grand, egal­i­tar­i­an idea of the “folkhem­met,” or people’s home, in which the coun­try is a fam­i­ly and its cit­i­zens take care of one anoth­er, Swedes pay among the world’s high­est effec­tive tax rates, in return for ben­e­fits like child care, health care, free col­lege edu­ca­tion and assis­tance when they grow old.

    The safe­ty net has come under strain for a host of eco­nom­ic and demo­graph­ic rea­sons, many of which pre­date the lat­est refugee flood. But in the Swe­den Democ­rats’ telling, the blame lies square­ly at the feet of the for­eign­ers, many of whom lag far behind native Swedes in edu­ca­tion and eco­nom­ic accom­plish­ment. One par­ty adver­tise­ment depict­ed a white woman try­ing to col­lect ben­e­fits while being pur­sued by niqab-wear­ing immi­grants push­ing strollers.

    ...

    “There’s a pub­lic face and the face they wear behind closed doors,” said Daniel Poohl, who heads Expo, a Stock­holm-based foun­da­tion that tracks far-right extrem­ism.
    ...

    And fol­low­ing last year’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions where the Swe­den Democ­rats got near­ly 18 per­cent of the vote, the par­ty’s lead­ers were invit­ed to the annu­al CPAC con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton DC. One mem­ber Swe­den Demo­c­rat mem­ber, Tobias Ander­s­son, is also a con­trib­u­tor to Bre­it­bart and spoke to Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform. Recall that Grover Norquist runs Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform so you almost can’t get a more ‘main­stream’ con­ser­v­a­tive US group than Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform. It’s an exam­ple of how the main­stream­ing of the Swe­den Democ­rats has­n’t just been tak­ing place in Swe­den:

    ...
    Build­ing a Coali­tion

    ...

    The Swe­den Democ­rats had their best show­ing yet. Their near­ly 18 per­cent share of the vote ham­strung Swedish pol­i­tics, with the main­stream par­ties unable to form a gov­ern­ment for more than four months.

    The Social Democ­rats final­ly formed a shaky coali­tion that exclud­ed the Swe­den Democ­rats. But it came at a price: some promi­nent cen­ter-right politi­cians are now express­ing a will­ing­ness to work with the Swe­den Democ­rats, por­tend­ing a new polit­i­cal align­ment.

    In Feb­ru­ary, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ Mr. Karls­son strode into a Wash­ing­ton-area hotel where lead­ers of the Amer­i­can and Euro­pean right were gath­er­ing for the annu­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence. As he set­tled in at the lob­by bar, straight­en­ing his navy three-piece suit, he was clear­ly very much at home.

    At the con­fer­ence — where polit­i­cal boot-camp train­ing mixed with speech­es by lumi­nar­ies like Mr. Trump and the British pop­ulist leader Nigel Farage — Mr. Karls­son hoped to learn about the infra­struc­ture of the Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly its fund­ing and use of the media and think tanks to broad­en its appeal. But in a mea­sure of how nation­al­ism and con­ser­vatism have merged in Mr. Trump’s Wash­ing­ton, many of the Amer­i­cans with whom he want­ed to net­work were just as eager to net­work with him.

    Mr. Karls­son had flown in from Col­orado, where he had giv­en a speech at the Steam­boat Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank. That morn­ing, Tobias Ander­s­son, 23, the Swe­den Democ­rats’ youngest mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and a con­trib­u­tor to Bre­it­bart, had spo­ken to Amer­i­cans for Tax Reform, a bas­tion of tax-cut ortho­doxy.

    Now, they found them­selves encir­cled by admir­ers like Matthew Hurtt, the direc­tor for exter­nal rela­tion­ships at Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, part of the bil­lion­aire Koch broth­ers’ polit­i­cal oper­a­tion, and Matthew Tyr­mand, a board mem­ber of Project Ver­i­tas, a con­ser­v­a­tive group that uses under­cov­er film­ing to sting its tar­gets.

    Mr. Tyr­mand, who is also an advis­er to a sen­a­tor from Poland’s anti-immi­gra­tion rul­ing Law and Jus­tice par­ty, was par­tic­u­lar­ly eager. “You are tak­ing your coun­try back!” he exclaimed.

    Mr. Karls­son smiled.
    ...

    And, of course, social media, in par­tic­u­lar Face­book, has been one of the key medi­ums for the Swe­den Democ­rats’ pro­pa­gan­da. By 2018, three web­sites that gen­er­at­ed far right social media ‘click bait’ con­tent, Samhall­snytt (News in Soci­ety), Nyheter Idag (News Today), and Fria Tider (Free Times), were among Swe­den’s 10 most shared news sites. And these three sites appar­ent­ly account­ed for 85 per­cent of the elec­tion-relat­ed junk-news in Swe­den shared online last year:

    ...
    A Right-Wing Echo Cham­ber

    ...

    For years, the Swe­den Democ­rats had strug­gled to make their case to the pub­lic. Many main­stream media out­lets declined their ads. The par­ty even had dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting the postal ser­vice to deliv­er its mail­ers. So it built a net­work of closed Face­book pages whose reach would ulti­mate­ly exceed that of any oth­er par­ty.

    But to thrive in the viral sense, that net­work required fresh, allur­ing con­tent. It drew on a clutch of rel­a­tive­ly new web­sites whose pop­u­lar­i­ty was explod­ing.

    Mem­bers of the Swe­den Democ­rats helped cre­ate two of them: Samhall­snytt (News in Soci­ety) and Nyheter Idag (News Today). By the 2018 elec­tion year, they, along with a site called Fria Tider (Free Times), were among Sweden’s 10 most shared news sites.

    These sites each reached one-tenth of all Swedish inter­net users a week and, accord­ing to an Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty study, account­ed for 85 per­cent of the elec­tion-relat­ed “junk news” — deemed delib­er­ate­ly dis­tort­ed or mis­lead­ing — shared online. There were oth­er sites, too, all inject­ing anti-immi­grant and Islam­o­pho­bic mes­sag­ing into the Swedish polit­i­cal blood­stream.

    “Immi­gra­tion Behind Short­age of Drink­ing Water in North­ern Stock­holm,” read one recent head­line. “Refugee Minor Raped Host Family’s Daugh­ter; Thought It Was Legal,” read anoth­er. “Per­formed Female Gen­i­tal Muti­la­tion on Her Chil­dren — Giv­en Asy­lum in Swe­den,” read a third.
    ...

    This inter­na­tion­al online net­work­ing has also includ­ed for­eign sites link­ing to Swe­den’s far right online con­tent to boost its vis­i­bil­i­ty, includ­ing Infowars and Bre­it­bart. Even the Mer­cer-fund­ed Gate­stone Insti­tute has been link­ing to this con­tent. Gate­stone’s chair­man was John Bolton, Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, until last year:

    ...
    Links Abroad

    Anoth­er way to look inside the explo­sive growth of Sweden’s alt-right out­lets is to see who is link­ing to them. The more links, espe­cial­ly from well-traf­ficked out­lets, the more like­ly Google is to rank the sites as author­i­ta­tive. That, in turn, means that Swedes are more like­ly to see them when they search for, say, immi­gra­tion and crime.

    The Times ana­lyzed more than 12 mil­lion avail­able links from over 18,000 domains to four promi­nent far-right sites — Nyheter Idag, Samhall­snytt, Fria Tider and Nya Tider. The data was culled by Mr. Lind­holm from two search engine opti­miza­tion tools and rep­re­sents a snap­shot of all known links through July 2.

    As expect­ed, giv­en the rel­a­tive pauci­ty of Swedish speak­ers world­wide, most of the links came from Swedish-lan­guage sites.

    But the analy­sis turned up a sur­pris­ing num­ber of links from well-traf­ficked for­eign-lan­guage sites — which sug­gests that the Swedish sites’ rapid growth has been dri­ven to a sig­nif­i­cant degree from abroad.

    “It has the mak­ings, the char­ac­ter­is­tics, of an oper­a­tion whose pur­pose or goal is to help these sites become rel­e­vant by get­ting them to be seen as wide­ly as pos­si­ble,” Mr. Lind­holm said.

    Over all, more than one in five links were from non-Swedish lan­guage sites. Eng­lish-lan­guage sites, along with Nor­we­gian ones, linked the most, near­ly a mil­lion times. But oth­er Euro­pean-lan­guage far-right sites — Russ­ian but also Czech, Dan­ish, Ger­man, Finnish and Pol­ish — were also fre­quent link­ers.

    The Times iden­ti­fied 356 domains that linked to all four Swedish sites.

    Many are well known in Amer­i­can far-right cir­cles. Among them is the Gate­stone Insti­tute, a think tank whose site reg­u­lar­ly stokes fears about Mus­lims in the Unit­ed States and Europe. Its chair­man until last year was John R. Bolton, now Mr. Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, and its fun­ders have includ­ed Rebekah Mer­cer, a promi­nent wealthy Trump sup­port­er.

    Oth­er domains that linked to all four Swedish sites includ­ed Storm­front, one of the old­est and largest Amer­i­can white suprema­cist sites; Voice of Europe, a Krem­lin-friend­ly right-wing site; a Russ­ian-lan­guage blog called Sweden4Rus.nu; and FreieWelt.net, a site sup­port­ive of the AfD in Ger­many.

    This loose­ly knit glob­al net­work does not just help increase read­er­ship in Swe­den; researchers have tracked how Russ­ian state out­lets like RT and Sput­nik, along with West­ern plat­forms like Infowars and Bre­it­bart, have picked up and ampli­fied Swedish immi­gra­tion-relat­ed sto­ries to gal­va­nize xeno­pho­bia among their audi­ences.
    ...

    The arti­cle also details appar­ent Krem­lin fin­ger­prints in this glob­al dis­in­for­ma­tion net­work. And there are no doubt real Krem­lin fin­ger­prints. The Krem­lin and the far right often have over­lap­ping inter­ests when it comes to pro­pa­gan­da and the far right loves high­light­ing the social­ly con­ser­v­a­tive Russ­ian soci­ety as a con­trast to pre­vail­ing West­ern lib­er­al social order. But as the arti­cle makes also clear, Russ­ian sources still only appear to account for a rel­a­tive­ly small aspect of this dis­in­for­ma­tion effort. Most of the far right dis­in­for­ma­tion in Swe­den was gen­er­at­ed in Swe­den and the Russ­ian sources were just one of many inter­na­tion­al sources of pro­pa­gan­da. And the Russ­ian con­nec­tions to this net­work were pret­ty indi­rect in the arti­cle. The sto­ry of Manuel Ochsen­re­it­er, the con­trib­u­tor to the far right Nya Tider site, is an exam­ple of this. Ochsen­re­it­er is the edi­tor of a Ger­man far-right news­pa­per and appear reg­u­lar­ly on RT. He also worked for an AfD mem­ber of the Bun­destag. Ochsen­re­it­er’s biggest appar­ent con­nec­tion to Rus­sia is that he was impli­cat­ed in pay­ing a Pol­ish extrem­ist to fire­bomb a Hun­gar­i­an cul­ture cen­ter in Ukraine in 2018. The plot, accord­ing to this Pol­ish extrem­ist, was to pin respon­si­bil­i­ty on Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist for Rus­si­a’s ben­e­fit. That’s the sto­ry of the per­pe­tra­tor and it’s appar­ent­ly being tak­en at face val­ue. But what this expla­na­tion leaves out is the fact that the Hun­gar­i­an Cul­tur­al Cen­tral hap­pened to be in Uzh­horod, the cen­ter of the eth­nic-Hun­gar­i­an part of Ukraine. And that region of Ukraine has long had sep­a­ratist sen­ti­ments which have been stoked by Vik­tor Orban’s far right Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment in recent years. So when you have Ger­man neo-Nazi pay­ing a Pol­ish extrem­ist to fire­bomb a Hun­gar­i­an cul­ture cen­tral in the cap­i­tal of the eth­nic-Hun­gar­i­an part of Ukraine, the idea that this was done on behalf of Rus­sia ignores the obvi­ous real­i­ty that stok­ing eth­nic con­flict and pro­mot­ing eth­nona­tion­al­ist sep­a­ratist move­ments is what neo-Nazis do! It’s their rai­son d’e­tre. It’s an exam­ple of the West sud­den­ly refram­ing tra­di­tion­al neo-Nazi far right activ­i­ty under a ‘Krem­lin-is-behind-it-all’ lense:

    ...
    Russia’s hand in all of this is large­ly hid­den from view. But fin­ger­prints abound.

    For instance, one writer for Samhall­snytt, who pre­vi­ous­ly worked for the Swe­den Democ­rats, was recent­ly declined par­lia­men­tary press accred­i­ta­tion after the secu­ri­ty police deter­mined he had been in con­tact with Russ­ian intel­li­gence.

    Fria Tider is con­sid­ered not only one of the most extreme sites, but also among the most Krem­lin-friend­ly. It fre­quent­ly swaps mate­r­i­al with the Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da out­let Sput­nik. The site is linked, via domain own­er­ship records, to Granskn­ing Sverige, called the Swedish “troll fac­to­ry” for its efforts to entrap and embar­rass main­stream jour­nal­ists. Among its fre­quent tar­gets: jour­nal­ists who write neg­a­tive­ly about Rus­sia.

    “We’ve had death threats, spam attacks, emails — this year has been total­ly crazy,” said Eva Bur­man, the edi­tor of Eskil­stu­na-Kuriren, a news­pa­per that found itself in the cross hairs after crit­i­ciz­ing the Russ­ian annex­a­tion of Crimea and inves­ti­gat­ing Granskn­ing Sverige itself.

    At the mag­a­zine Nya Tider, the edi­tor, Vavra Suk, has trav­eled to Moscow as an elec­tion observ­er and to Syr­ia, where he pro­duced Krem­lin-friend­ly accounts of the civ­il war. Nya Tider has pub­lished work by Alexan­der Dug­in, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist Russ­ian philoso­pher who has been called “Putin’s Rasputin”; Mr. Suk’s writ­ings for Mr. Dugin’s think tank include one titled “Don­ald Trump Can Make Europe Great Again.”

    Nya Tider’s con­trib­u­tors include Manuel Ochsen­re­it­er, edi­tor of Zuerst!, a Ger­man far-right news­pa­per. Mr. Ochsen­re­it­er — who has appeared reg­u­lar­ly on RT, the Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da chan­nel — worked until recent­ly for Markus Frohn­maier, a mem­ber of the Ger­man Bun­destag rep­re­sent­ing the far-right Alter­na­tive for Ger­many par­ty. Doc­u­ments leaked to a con­sor­tium of Euro­pean media out­lets — doc­u­ments that Mr. Frohn­maier has called fake — have sug­gest­ed that Moscow aid­ed his elec­tion cam­paign in order to have an “absolute­ly con­trolled MP.”

    Mr. Ochsen­re­it­er, for his part, has been impli­cat­ed in Pol­ish court in the financ­ing of a 2018 fire­bomb­ing attack on a Hun­gar­i­an cul­tur­al cen­ter in Ukraine. The plot, accord­ing to tes­ti­mo­ny from a Pol­ish extrem­ist charged with car­ry­ing it out, was designed to pin respon­si­bil­i­ty on Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists and stoke eth­nic ten­sions, to Russia’s ben­e­fit. Mr. Ochsen­re­it­er has not been charged in Poland, but pros­e­cu­tors in Berlin said they had begun a pre­lim­i­nary inves­ti­ga­tion. He has denied involve­ment.
    ...

    Then there’s the inter­est­ing sto­ry about Autodoc, the Ger­man-based online auto parts com­pa­ny owned by four busi­ness­men from Rus­sia and Ukraine that was found to be adver­tis­ing on all sorts of far right sites. Fur­ther analy­sis found that the Autodoc web­site had hid­den pages filled with all sorts of strange far right con­tent in a vari­ety of lan­guages. The expla­na­tion giv­en by Autodoc is that this was part of an old attempt to max­i­mize search results, an expla­na­tion dis­missed by one because doing this would be penal­ized by Google. It’s not a very sat­is­fac­to­ry debunk­ing giv­en that search-engine opti­miza­tion strate­gies include all sorts of tech­niques like putting seem­ing­ly irrelevent con­tent on a site for search engine pur­pos­es. Whether or not Google penal­izes this does­n’t stop web­sites from attempt­ing it. Autodoc was clear­ly inter­est­ed in the far right audi­ence giv­en their ad buys so it makes sense they might attempt to opti­mize their search for that audi­ence. Sure, it’s pos­si­ble Autodoc is secret­ly try­ing to finance far right web­sites while mak­ing far right con­tent secret­ly avail­able on these hid­den pages. But it’s also very pos­si­ble the site real­ly was try­ing to tar­get this far right mar­ket for its busi­ness:

    ...
    There is anoth­er curi­ous Russ­ian com­mon denom­i­na­tor: Six of Sweden’s alt-right sites have drawn adver­tis­ing rev­enue from a net­work of online auto-parts stores based in Ger­many and owned by four busi­ness­men from Rus­sia and Ukraine, three of whom have adopt­ed Ger­man-sound­ing sur­names.

    The ads were first noticed by the Swedish news­pa­per Dagens Nyheter, which dis­cov­ered that while they appeared to be for a vari­ety of out­lets, all traced back to the same Berlin address and were owned by a par­ent com­pa­ny, Autodoc GmbH.

    The Times found that the com­pa­ny had also placed ads on anti-Semit­ic and oth­er extrem­ist sites in Ger­many, Hun­gary, Aus­tria and else­where in Europe.

    Which raised a ques­tion: Was the auto-parts deal­er sim­ply try­ing to drum up busi­ness, or was it also try­ing to sup­port the far-right cause?

    Rikard Lind­holm, co-founder of a data-dri­ven mar­ket­ing firm who has worked with Swedish author­i­ties to com­bat dis­in­for­ma­tion, dug deep­er into the Autodoc net­work.

    Hid­den beneath the user-friend­ly inter­face of some of the ear­li­est Autodoc sites lay what Mr. Lind­holm, an expert in the foren­sic analy­sis of online traf­fic, described as “ice­bergs” of blog-like con­tent com­plete­ly unre­lat­ed to auto parts, trans­lat­ed into a vari­ety of lan­guages. A vis­i­tor to one of the car-parts sites could not sim­ply access this con­tent from the home page; instead, one had to know and type in the full URL.

    “It’s like they have a back door and it’s open and you can have a look around, but to do that you have to know that the door is there,” Mr. Lind­holm said.

    Much of the con­tent was not polit­i­cal. But there were links to posts about a range of divi­sive social issues, some of them trans­lat­ed into oth­er lan­guages. One hid­den link — about female gen­i­tal muti­la­tion in Mus­lim coun­tries — had been trans­lat­ed from Eng­lish to Pol­ish before being post­ed. Yet anoth­er post, from a site called AnsweringIslam.net, con­clud­ed, “Islam hates you.”

    Thomas Casper, a spokesman for Autodoc, said the com­pa­ny had no “inter­est at all in sup­port­ing alt-right media,” and added, “We vehe­ment­ly oppose racism and far-right prin­ci­ples.”

    He said the company’s dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing team worked with third par­ties to place ads on “trust­ed web­sites with sub­stan­tial traf­fic.” Autodoc, he said, had insti­tut­ed con­trols to try to ensure that it no longer adver­tised on far-right sites.

    As for the ice­bergs, after receiv­ing The Times’s inquiry, the com­pa­ny removed what Mr. Casper called the “obvi­ous­ly dubi­ous and out­dat­ed con­tent.” It had orig­i­nal­ly been placed there, he said, to improve search engine opti­miza­tion.

    But Mr. Lind­holm said that made no sense. “By link­ing to irrel­e­vant con­tent, it actu­al­ly hurts their busi­ness because Google frowns on that,” he said.
    ...

    So that’s a look at how the rise of the Swe­den Democ­rats has both been fueled by an inter­na­tion­al far right net­work but has also served as a kind of role mod­el for the inter­na­tion­al far right’s suc­cess in rebrand­ing itself as ‘pop­ulist’ despite the fact that these move­ments are about as unpop­ulist as one can get.

    But, again, if we’re going to explore the rise of Swe­den’s far right online pro­pa­gan­da net­works, we can’t ignore Swedish neo-Nazi mil­lion­aire Carl Lund­strom and the role his played in financ­ing and facil­i­tat­ing the far right’s infil­tra­tion of the cyber civ­il lib­er­ties move­ments. So keep in mind that while the Swe­den Democ­rats have clear­ly had a lot of inter­na­tion­al help, the large­ly untold or for­got­ten sto­ry of Carl Lund­strom remains one of those crit­i­cal sto­ries for under­stand­ing how the inter­net became a tool for con­vinc­ing mil­lions of peo­ple around the world that neo-Nazis are look­ing out for their best inter­ests.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 31, 2019, 4:13 pm
  26. Here’s a quick update on YouTube super­star Felix “PewDiePie” Kjell­berg and his his­to­ry of flirt­ing with the far right and pro­mot­ing Nazi memes on his YouTube plat­form while claim­ing he’s just jok­ing to main­tain plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty: Kjell­berg recent­ly declared that he’s going to try to put this
    con­tro­ver­sy behind him once and for all with a $50,000 dona­tion to the Anti-Defama­tion League. And then a bunch of his sup­port­ers howled in protest, assert­ing that the ADL was a bad orga­ni­za­tion con­spir­ing against him. Kjell­berg has now announced that he’s no longer mak­ing the dona­tion. He’s still pledg­ing to make a $50,000 dona­tion, just not to the ADL:

    Vice

    PewDiePie’s Fans Shamed Him Into Not Donat­ing $50,000 to a Jew­ish Anti-Hate Group
    The YouTube star had pre­vi­ous­ly come under fire for get­ting praise from white nation­al­ists and the alt-right.

    by Alex Lubben
    Sep 13 2019, 9:44am

    The viral YouTu­ber and dar­ling of the alt-right, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjell­berg, reneged on his $50,000 pledge to the Anti-Defama­tion League, orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed to make up for past alle­ga­tions of anti-Semi­tism.

    Kjell­berg — whose chan­nel, with 101 mil­lion sub­scribers, is the sec­ond most fol­lowed on YouTube — had pre­vi­ous­ly come under fire for the praise that he’s gar­nered from white nation­al­ists and the far-right. The dona­tion to the ADL, a Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to coun­ter­ing anti-Semi­tism, was orig­i­nal­ly was meant to clear the air.

    But his fans, decry­ing a con­spir­a­cy he’d been pres­sured to make the dona­tion and that ADL could some­how take Kjell­berg off the air, con­vinced the YouTu­ber to do an about-face. He won’t be giv­ing any cash to the orga­ni­za­tion.

    “I made the mis­take of pick­ing a char­i­ty that I was advised to, instead of pick­ing a char­i­ty that I’m per­son­al­ly pas­sion­ate about,” Kjell­berg said in the video. “Which is 100% my fault.”

    The ADL, for its part, said it had learned about the dona­tion at the same time as every­one else, and gave no addi­tion­al com­ment when asked about the rescind­ed dona­tion.

    ...

    Kjellberg’s come under fire for mak­ing anti-Semit­ic jokes on his chan­nel. In 2017, he paid two men to hold up signs that read “Death to All Jews” — and the Anti-Defama­tion League crit­i­cized him for it.

    The shoot­er in Christchurch, New Zealand, live-streamed his killing of 51 peo­ple, and mut­tered “Sub­scribe to PewDiePie” as he car­ried out the mas­sacre.

    “I saw it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to put an end to these alt-right claims that have been thrown against me,” Kjell­berg said in the video announc­ing that he wouldn’t be mak­ing the dona­tion. “But I also didn’t know a lot of things that sur­faced through­out this whole thing about the char­i­ty that doesn’t fit at all.”

    To his fans, the dona­tion was evi­dence of some sort of grand con­spir­a­cy. Some even claimed that the Anti-Defama­tion League was “defam­ing” PewDiePie, accord­ing to Kotaku.

    Kjell­berg says he’ll still make the $50,000 dona­tion he’d promised to make — it just won’t go to the ADL. He hasn’t yet announced which char­i­ty he’ll be giv­ing to.

    ———–

    “PewDiePie’s Fans Shamed Him Into Not Donat­ing $50,000 to a Jew­ish Anti-Hate Group” by Alex Lubben, Vice, 09/13/2019

    “Kjell­berg — whose chan­nel, with 101 mil­lion sub­scribers, is the sec­ond most fol­lowed on YouTube — had pre­vi­ous­ly come under fire for the praise that he’s gar­nered from white nation­al­ists and the far-right. The dona­tion to the ADL, a Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to coun­ter­ing anti-Semi­tism, was orig­i­nal­ly was meant to clear the air.”

    The sec­ond most fol­lowed per­son­al­i­ty on YouTube. That’s who decid­ed to pledge $50,000 to the ADL in an alleged attempt to put these accu­sa­tions of anti-Semi­tism behind him. Until his fans warned him that it could all be an ADL con­spir­a­cy to take him off YouTube, at which point Kjell­berg appeared to agree with these crit­i­cisms and reversed his pledge

    ...
    But his fans, decry­ing a con­spir­a­cy he’d been pres­sured to make the dona­tion and that ADL could some­how take Kjell­berg off the air, con­vinced the YouTu­ber to do an about-face. He won’t be giv­ing any cash to the orga­ni­za­tion.

    “I made the mis­take of pick­ing a char­i­ty that I was advised to, instead of pick­ing a char­i­ty that I’m per­son­al­ly pas­sion­ate about,” Kjell­berg said in the video. “Which is 100% my fault.”

    ...

    “I saw it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to put an end to these alt-right claims that have been thrown against me,” Kjell­berg said in the video announc­ing that he wouldn’t be mak­ing the dona­tion. “But I also didn’t know a lot of things that sur­faced through­out this whole thing about the char­i­ty that doesn’t fit at all.”

    To his fans, the dona­tion was evi­dence of some sort of grand con­spir­a­cy. Some even claimed that the Anti-Defama­tion League was “defam­ing” PewDiePie, accord­ing to Kotaku.

    Kjell­berg says he’ll still make the $50,000 dona­tion he’d promised to make — it just won’t go to the ADL. He hasn’t yet announced which char­i­ty he’ll be giv­ing to.
    ...

    So he starts off try­ing to put the anti-Semi­tism charges to rest and ends up large­ly agree­ing with the alle­ga­tions from his fans about an ADL con­spir­a­cy against him. That’s some major league trolling right there. By the sec­ond most fol­lowed per­son­al­i­ty on YouTube.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 13, 2019, 12:18 pm

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