white supremacists, neo-Nazi, Telegram|Jun 09, 2020|CEP Staff

Extremists Online Seek To Exploit And Infiltrate U.S. Protests

Last week, the Washington Post highlighted a growing number of white supremacist and neo-Nazi extremists using online platforms to capitalize on the ongoing U.S. protests by exacerbating tensions, spreading misinformation, and stoking violence. The trend represents yet another example of how extremists’ online activities can translate into real-life violence.

“The same extremists that advocate for violence online are moving into the real world, and it’s clear that some are working to deliberately tip demonstrations toward violence,” said Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Executive Director David Ibsen. “Tech firms have a responsibility to the protesters, law enforcement, and whole communities to prevent extremists from using their sites to mobilize online. In order to help stymie the spread of extremist propaganda and prevent real-world attacks from occurring, companies must take decisive steps and cease providing a platform to those that glorify and promote violence.”

CEP regularly monitors and reports weekly on the methods used by extremists to exploit the Internet and social media platforms to recruit followers and incite violence.

Last week, one prominent neo-Nazi accelerationist Telegram channel with over 5,500 members called upon subscribers to “make things worse” for the average citizen, police, and the U.S. government writ large, with other channels posting information from Black Lives Matter Telegram channels, including coordinating chats and announcement channels, for the purposes of stoking harassment. Another violent neo-Nazi accelerationist Telegram channel with over 5,500 members advised that a large protest would be a good opportunity to commit a murder, and an accelerationist neo-Nazi channel claimed that now was the time to attack synagogues, while emergency services are dealing with protests and civil unrest.

CEP also located a Telegram channel affiliated with a New England based neo-Nazi gang that posted the results of their flyer efforts near a protest in Worcester, Massachusetts, where they urged white people to join their group in order to find “protection” from Black Lives Matter and Antifa.