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Online Extremists And Law Enforcement: Lessons From The Capitol Hill Insurrection

Supporters loyal to President Donald Trump clash with authorities before successfully breaching the Capitol building during a riot on the grounds, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP)
Supporters loyal to President Donald Trump clash with authorities before successfully breaching the Capitol building during a riot on the grounds, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP)

Right-wing extremists plotted their Capitol insurrection openly on social media. What are they saying they’ll do next? And this time, will law enforcement pay attention?

Guests

David Ignatius, columnist covering foreign affairs at the Washington Post. (@IgnatiusPost)

Alexandra Levine, reporter for Politico, covering the intersection of technology, government and public policy. Author of Politico’s Morning Tech newsletter. (@Ali_Lev)

Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy, Inc. Former FBI analyst and Senate investigator. (@DanielJJonesUS)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “What Went Wrong With The Protection Of The U.S. Capitol.” — “The storming of the U.S. Capitol offers a reminder that the most devastating attacks often aren’t the ones that take us by surprise but those we see coming and don’t take adequate steps to avoid.”

Politico: “Capitol violence ups pressure on mainstream, fringe social media alike” — “As debate escalates over whether mainstream social media platforms have done too much or too little by suspending President Donald Trump, some experts are warning Congress to focus instead on reining in fringe sites like those used to organize the violence at the Capitol this week.”

Vox: “How Trump’s internet built and broadcast the Capitol insurrection” — “Ali Alexander, a far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, posted a video to YouTube on Christmas Day, urging people to come to Washington, DC, on the day that Congress would finalize Joe Biden’s election to the US presidency.”

Politico: “‘This Is Going To Come Back And Bite ’Em’: Capitol Breach Inflames Democrats’ Ire At Silicon Valley” — “Social media is poised to pay a price for President Donald Trump’s supporters’ rampage through the Capitol.”

NBC News: “Violent Threats Ripple Through Far-Right Internet Forums Ahead Of Protest” — “‘In regards to the protests planned for January 6th, the violent rhetoric we’re seeing online is at a new level,’ said Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy Inc., a global research organization that studies disinformation and extremism. ‘There are endorsements of violence across all of the platforms.'”

Politico: “‘Hashtags Come To Life’: How Online Extremists Fueled Wednesday’s Capitol Hill Insurrection” — “Far-right groups have increasingly used fringe social media platforms and online message boards to coordinate their offline activities, with both the recent presidential election and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic used to galvanize support and try out new online tactics to bolster extremist views, according to multiple disinformation experts.”

NPR: “On Far-Right Websites, Plans To Storm Capitol Were Made In Plain Sight” — “The mob violence that descended on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was the culmination of weeks of incendiary rhetoric and increasingly feverish planning – much of which took place openly on websites popular with far-right conspiracy theorists.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.