Washington, Pittsburgh and every state capital

Next Sunday: Twitter warns of widespread new violence to come

New research report, meanwhile, details planned events in Washington, Pittsburgh and every state capital

Twitter warns of new violence to come, brewing again on social media, as reason for Trump ban

.ipg
INVESTIGATIVE PRESS GROUP

Twitter’s extraordinary action against President Trump on Friday night was driven both by the violent rampage of his supporters in Washington and what the company said was a looming “secondary attack” on the U.S. Capitol and state government facilities next weekend — a finding that tracks with the open threats of violence independent researchers have also found across the Web.

Calls for widespread protests on the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden have been rampant online for weeks. These demonstrations are scheduled to culminate with what organizers have dubbed a “Million Militia March” on Jan. 20 as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris are to be sworn in on the same Capitol grounds that rioters overran on Wednesday.

As with the online chatter ahead of that assault on the Capitol, these calls to action have bristled with violent talk and vows to bring guns to Washington in defiance of the city’s strict weapons laws. Twitter cited some of these posts in its announcement stripping Trump of his account and preventing him from creating new ones in the future. Some event listings are openly discussing delivering “justice” for Ashli Babbitt, a rioter and Air Force veteran who was fatally shot by police inside the Capitol on Wednesday.

“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021,” Twitter’s announcement said, noting two recent Trump tweets it said were “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021.”

Citing the potential for Trump’s words to incite others — even in the absence of clear references to violence — took Twitter’s enforcement actions to a restrictive new level, as commentators noted Friday night. But the fear that Trump’s social media postings were fueling violent action appears to be well founded by what researchers have detailed in their monitoring of far-right conversation online.

A detailed new analysis of such posts by Alethea Group, an organization combating disinformation that draws its name from the Greek word for “truth,” found abundant evidence of threatening plans on a range of platforms large and small. The aggressive and often hateful chatter has appeared on both mainstream sites such as Twitter and Facebook and niche, conservative sites such as TheDonald.win and Parler.

“REFUSE TO BE SILENCED,” said one online post cited by Alethea Group, calling for an “ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS” for Jan. 17, the last Sunday of Trump’s polarizing presidency. Another post calling for action at “DC & All State Capitols” and signed by “common folk who are tired of being tread upon” declares: “We were warned!”

“So much of the conversation right now is the general making of threats,” said Cindy Otis, vice president of analysis at Alethea. “There’s a risk of these particular dates leading to violence because that’s the kind of amped-up conversation we’re already seeing from people.”

Parler’s chief operating officer, Jeffrey Wernick, declined to comment. An unnamed moderator for TheDonald wrote an accusatory email in response to a request for comment that used an obscenity to describe Washington Post reporters but did not respond to the substance of the query.

The Alethea report lists events planned for Jan. 17, as well as the day before the inauguration and on Inauguration Day itself. The specified locations include the U.S. Capitol and the Mall in Washington, the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City, and locations in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio. Some events, including an “Armed March on All State Capitals,” include localized events in all 50 states.

A post about the event in Pittsburgh included pictures of stockpiles of ammunition, the Alethea report said. An online militia forum called for recruits in Kentucky because “diplomatic efforts have been exhausted.”

“A popular guerilla onslaught is a nightmare for them,” said the anonymous writer of one post on the encrypted messaging service Telegram about the scattered militia events. “Is the military going to deploy in mass everywhere? They can’t.”

The report, while culled from public posts, also notes a shift toward communicating in closed, private groups on encrypted platforms such as Signal, suggesting there is significantly more organizing happening beyond the view of independent researchers and, likely, to authorities as well.

Read more

Inside Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump's epic bromance

Beginning in the late ’80s, the infamous sex trafficker and the future president (and their mutual friend Ghislaine Maxwell) palled around for almost two decades. In an excerpt from his new book, American Kompromat, Craig Unger exposes their shared tastes for private planes, shady money, and foreign-born models—many of them “on the younger side.”

Florida bank says it has closed Trump's accounts

A Florida bank announced Thursday that it has closed down former President Trump’s account, joining a growing list of entities that have cut ties with the former president following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden

Anthony Fauci on Thursday said it has been “liberating” to work as the nation's top infectious diseases doctor under President Biden after his experience working for former President Trump. Speaking at the White House press briefing, Fauci was asked if he feels "less constrained" in the new administration after clashing with Trump and eventually being sidelined last year.

Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem is a stunning vision of democracy

Among the firsts in Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” is the concept of democracy that it assumed. Democracy, according to the twenty-two-year-old poet, is an aspiration—a thing of the future. The word “democracy” first appears in the same verse in which Gorman refers to “a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it.” The insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th took place while Gorman was working on the poem, although the “force,” one may assume, is bigger than the insurrection—it is the Trump Presidency that made the insurrection possible, and the forces of white supremacy and inequality that enabled that Presidency itself.”