News

Extremists Move Apps

By: Michael Falk — Correspondent

Following the capital siege, big tech corporations have been on the watch for extremists using applications on their platform. Recently, Apple removed the Parler app which has been used by Trump supporters, following the suspension of President Donald Trump’s Twitter account and general accusations of censorship. 

“You had a lot of groups, ranging from the Proud Boys to the Oath Keepers to the Three Percenters to Turning Point USA, different groups like that who are showing up at the Capitol and mingling, frankly, with others who are just there to protest. That created this type of mob mentality that was going on,” said David Goldenberg, Midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League as he explained that there is a big range of viewpoints on the right which were involved in the capital siege.

Right-wing extremists are using encrypted apps such as Telegram to call for violence against government officials on Inauguration Day with some sending information of how to make and use homemade guns and bombs, but luckily nothing serious occurred on the 20th. 

In an interview with NBC, Chief of Research at the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy Chris Sampson says how their organization focused on how concerns of users are reported to the FBI.

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

Telegram channels on the far-right are growing fast. QAnon channel’s subscriber count had blown up to 35,000. Telegram banned at least 15 far-right channels and censor content on several others, according to an NBC tally. Another channel intended for Proud Boys has gained 8,870 followers, a 54 percent increase, since Jan. 6. Gab, another platform used by the far right, was also offline last week. The platform, which has been joined by several prominent right-wing extremist figures, said Wednesday it has had 1.7 million sign-ups and hit 52 million page views in the past week.

Downloads of the app for Rumble, another conservative alternative to YouTube doubled in the last week, according to Axios. Social media platform MeWe had a massive influx of people to the site, with the company’s app becoming one of the more popular free apps on Apple’s App Store and Google Play on Monday.

In an interview with Yahoo News, former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi says he worries about the “double-edged sword” when a platform known to host extremists is shut down.

“We had all this success with ISIS: We took out their command site, but we also took away the ability to see the next lone wolf. We force them into the dark corners of the internet,” said Figliuzzi, an NBC News national security analyst.

“History repeats itself. We saw with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, they knocked these guys out and boom, where are they?,” Figliuzzi added.

image from nbcnews.com

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