Social media posts are of a different type. They give deep indications that either the CIA or the FBI is behind the mass shootings. They traffic in racist and sexist tropes. They revel in the prospect of a “white boy summer”.
White nationalists and supremacists, often on accounts run by young men, are creating thriving, masculine communities on social media platforms such as Instagram, Telegram and TikTok, avoiding detection with coded hashtags and innuendo.
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His lewd memes and trendy videos are inciting thousands of followers on divisive issues like abortion, guns and immigration.
The Department of Homeland Security warned Tuesday that such asymmetrical framing of subjects could prompt extremists to violently attack public places across the US in the coming months.
These types of threats and racist ideology have become so common on social media that it is nearly impossible for law enforcement to separate Internet rallying from dangerous, potentially violent ones, said Michael German, who infiltrated white supremacy groups as an FBI agent. , told the Senate Judiciary Committee. on Tuesday.
“It seems intuitive that effective social media surveillance could provide clues to help law enforcement prevent attacks,” German said. Ultimately, white supremacist attackers in Buffalo, Pittsburgh and El Paso gained access to online content and expressed their hateful, violent intentions on social media.
But, he continued, “so many false alarms perpetuate threats.”
DHS and the FBI are also working with state and local agencies to raise awareness of the growing threat around the US in the coming months.
The heightened concern comes just weeks after an 18-year-old white man entered a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, with the goal of killing as many black patrons as possible. He shot 10.
That shooter claims he was introduced to the mosque shooting on the anonymous, online messaging board 4Chan on neo-Nazi websites and a 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand livestream.
In 2018, the white man who shot 11 in a Pittsburgh synagogue shared his anti-Semitic rants on Gab, a site that attracts extremists. A year ago, a 21-year-old white man who murdered 23 people at a Walmart in the largely Hispanic city of El Paso, Texas, shared his anti-immigrant hatred on the messaging board 8Chan.
References to hate-filled ideologies are more elusive in mainstream platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Telegram. To avoid detection from artificial intelligence-powered moderation, users do not use explicit words such as “white narcissism” or “white power” in conversation.
They indicate their beliefs in other ways: a Christian cross emoji in their profile or words like “anglo” or “pild” in usernames adopted by far-right chat rooms.
More recently, some of these accounts have carried the Roe v. Wade has borrowed the pop song “White Boy Summer” to cheer on the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion.
Facebook and Instagram owner Meta banned praise and support for white nationalist and separatist movements on the company platform in 2019, but changes in the subtleties of social media made it difficult to moderate posts.
David Tesler, Head of Dangerous Organizations, said: “We know these groups are determined to find new ways to evade our policies, and so we invest in people and technology to continually update and improve our enforcement efforts. To work with outside experts.” and individuals policy for Meta, said in a statement.
A closer look reveals hundreds of posts steeped in sexist, antisemitic and racist content.
In an Instagram post identified by The Associated Press, an account called White Primacy appeared to post a picture of a billboard depicting a typical way Jewish people were destroyed during the Holocaust.
“We have just had 75 years of gas chambers. So no, a billboard calling for bigotry against Jews is not an overstatement,” the painted billboard said.
However, the caption of the post denied that gas chambers were used at all. The post’s comments were even worse: “If what they said actually happened, we’d be in such a better place,” commented one user. “We’re going to finish what they started someday,” wrote another.
The account, which had more than 4,000 followers, was quickly deleted on Tuesday after the Associated Press asked Meta about it. Meta has banned posts refuting the Holocaust from 2020 on its platform.
US extremists are copying the social media strategy used by ISIS, which a decade ago turned to subtle language and images on Telegram, Facebook and YouTube, to avoid industry-wide crackdowns on the terrorist group’s online presence, said Mia Bloom, a communications professor. Georgia State University.
“They are trying to recruit,” said Bloom, who has researched the use of social media for both ISIS and far-right extremists. “We are starting to see some similar patterns with ISIS and the far-right. Coded speech, ways to avoid AI. The groups were attracting younger and younger crowds.”
For example, on Instagram, one of the most popular apps for teens and young adults, white supremacists daily amplify each other’s content and point their followers to new accounts.
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