White nationalists are seizing the opportunity to further radicalize the fragmented pro-Donald Trump movement, after major social media crackdowns dispersed the former president’s most staunch supporters to fringe platforms.
In the run-up to US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Facebook and Twitter have both censored far-right narratives and Mr. Trump himself, while the popular right-wing platform Speak has been forced to go offline. after Amazon cut its web hosting.
As a result, Donald Trump’s remaining supporters – especially those who follow the lingering QAnon conspiracy theory – have been forced to migrate to alternative platforms such as the Telegram messaging service.
There, fascist groups rushed to infiltrate pro-Trump channels or even create their own, in an attempt to lure remnants of the movement to the far right, experts say, with efforts intensifying. after the inauguration of Mr. Biden.
For example, the nearly 15,000-man Talking Lifeboat, a group set up by the pro-Trump Proud Boys for right-wing platform “refugees”, was quickly infiltrated by neo-Nazi users, researcher says. anti-fascist.
Megan Squire, a professor at Elon University who has extensively studied the far right on Telegram, pointed to screenshots of the group showing white nationalist users attempting to convert new supporters with neo-Nazi emblems and positive content on Adolf Hitler.
In other channels, members post guides on how to engage with supporters of Mr. Trump. “Now that the globalists have delivered the Trumpsters into our hands here at Telegram by the millions, we can take this opportunity to speed up the HATE,” one said, encouraging users to start with relatively benign topics like than electoral fraud.
The pick-up of potential supporters by the far right comes as the QAnon movement has been left rudderless by Mr. Trump’s exit from the White House – an event that contradicts a key prediction that his presidency will not end.
For white nationalists and other members of the far right, believers in QAnon have often been the subject of derision. “They find them quite naive,” said Mike Rains, who runs the Adventures in HellwQrld podcast and follows conspiracy theory.
“They really don’t think much of these people except as cannon fodder,” said Marc-André Argentino, PhD candidate at Concordia University.
But following the violence of the Capitol Riots, white nationalists recognized the potential usefulness of QAnon supporters, experts say. Meanwhile, the lingering belief of many that the elections have been stolen from them leaves them vulnerable to the influence of undemocratic forces.
“A lot of [QAnon-type people] have reached the final stage “there is no political solution”, ”Squire said. “January 6 was the last day they thought they could make a difference in physically convincing Congress to do what they wanted.
Experts say it’s too early to assess the far-right’s success in co-opting the pro-Trump movement, noting that forceful attempts to reshape conspiracy narratives such as QAnon often meet with backlash.
“What is all this talk about the Patriots and the Jews ?!” Seriously ?! “a user replied to a post featuring anti-Semitic sentiments.” Patriot here. Daughter of WWll veterans. The Patriots saved the Jewish people. AND NOBODY MUST FORGET THAT.
Nonetheless, as Mr. Rains pointed out, many of the underlying elements of QAnon are anti-Semitic. “Anything related to the Illuminati and the New World Order, you can go back all to the Protocols of the Ancients of Zion,” he said. “QAnon is fundamentally based on hating people – radicalizing further into this belief system is really not an exercise.”
Telegram’s efforts to crack down on public channels that encourage violence are a more pressing issue for right-wing extremists. A number of the most popular have been closed, with at least one containing a large number of weapons and training manuals.
Telegram said the app’s monitoring team is constantly monitoring user reports and proactively suppressing public calls for violence.
“Between January 6 and January 14 alone, Telegram moderators blocked 182 public communities linked to the United States from broadcasting calls for violence that could otherwise have reached tens of thousands of subscribers,” he said. he said, adding that the app works with several anti-terrorists. initiatives.
Whether or not white nationalists succeed in luring QAnon supporters further to the right, experts warn that the events of January 6 have already taken their toll on right-wing extremists.
“We realized that if this crowd is capable of doing so much damage, what can people do who are waiting for a real chance of civil war?” warned Mr. Argentino.