Jared Holt Atlantic Council Researcher monitors Trump supporter next plans as social media users plan for the next Stop the Steal installment.
The MAGA supporter shot dead by Capitol Hill police during ‘Stop the Steal’ protests is being hailed a martyr by online Trump supporters who have described the bullet that killed her as, ‘the first shot in a revolution,’ according to a report.
Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35, was killed as Trump loyalists stormed Congress Wednesday in a bid to halt President-elect Joe Biden‘s confirmation. Wednesday’s attempted coup led to destruction of the Capitol as protesters stormed the building along with the death of four other protesters.
The attempted ‘sedition’ also posed serious questions as to the legitimacy of the US’s democratic process as Trump supporters insisted the election results were false — despite no validation or verification of the President’s often unfounded repeated claims.
Rather than heeding calls to desist and allow Washington to resume the business of governing ‘democratically,’ ‘Stop the Steal’ conspiracy theorists, right-wing militia groups and white supremacists are ‘focused on trying to keep the energy up,’ according to an exclusive via the dailymail.
Trump loyalists according to the tabloid are said to be making plans to descend on the nation’s capital once more this Saturday.
Extreme communities meeting online
Told, Jared Holt, Visiting Research Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and an expert in online disinformation and extremism via the dailymail: ‘Since Wednesday’s events, we’ve seen extremist communities really focused on trying to keep the energy up.
‘They have portrayed the woman who was shot and killed as a martyr for the cause, talking about the shot that killed her as, ”the first shot fired in a revolution,” and there are developing plans for a Second Amendment rally in DC on Saturday though the details have not been hashed out yet.’
Holt also revealed that he has monitored, ‘a lot of conversation…looking towards the inauguration,’ but cautioned that it was too early to tell how much would come to fruition and noted that he and his team are not aware of any concrete plans.
He said: ‘There were, I believe, four or five different pro-Trump events that were formally scheduled that brought people into the city.
‘I think if similar events are organized [this weekend] a lot of people that have similar sentiments or connections to extremist movements will turn up in DC again.’
Holt further alleges coordinated planning amongst insurgents to infiltrate the Capitol.
Explained Holt: ‘Just two or three days before the rallies took place there were plans shared about surrounding the US Capitol and those plans included a map of all the tunnels going into the Capitol and different entry points.’
Monitoring fringe social media
Holt concedes, in the absence of any concrete plans that it is extremely difficult to share information with law enforcement.
He said, ‘There was not, from our monitoring, any clear stated logistical plan for storming the Capitol but it was an idea that was frequently floated among the users of these communities.’
Holt has been monitoring communications between extremists on both mainstream and alternative social media platforms throughout Trump’s presidency but, in recent weeks, has seen them use, ‘increasingly desperate and heated rhetoric regarding the transition of power in this country.’
The conversations are alleged to take place on pro-Trump forums as well as social media platforms such as GAB, Parler and MeWe. These and others are favored by extreme groups because they take a light hand moderating content more often banned on Facebook and Twitter.
Holt and his colleagues say they have witnessed an online acceleration of a loyal fervor that, he explained, has its roots in the beginning of Trump’s presidency.
He explained, ‘Something really unique about these extremist movements during the Trump presidency is that, throughout history, right-wing extremism has tended to be antagonistic towards federal government in the United States.
Look at the huge crowds#fourmoreyears#stopthesteel pic.twitter.com/zyAgvPUorB
— Ninnyd 🇬🇧❤️🇺🇸 Waiting~4~the Revolution (@ninnyd101) January 6, 2021
A political leader who sympathized with right wing domestic fringe
‘But with Trump, for the first time, a lot of these extremist movements saw a political leader who they thought sympathized with their cause and they rallied behind him.
‘Leading up to the election and in the time period after they have looked to Trump and largely taken their cues from him.
‘They really believed eventually the results of the election would be modified to present him the win that they believe he successfully earned and that they would defeat the nefarious forces they believe exist in federal government.’
When this appeared not to be happening talk turned towards wanting to take action.
Among the conversations Holt has witnessed online were discussions of overwhelming authorities with the sheer size of the crowd in order to violate laws.
He said, ‘For example in DC you can’t carry firearms unless you have a DC permit so there were conversations of, ‘well, if enough of us do this they can’t stop it.’
But there’s more.
Alleged conversations between alternative social media users include telling each other they were ready to, ‘make the ultimate sacrifice in order to ‘save the country,’ in their words.’
In one message shared with dailymail a veteran tells fellow Trump loyalists that, before leaving for DC he told his children, ‘daddy might not come home.’ And added that he has sworn to defend his country, ‘against all enemies, both Foreign and Domestic.’
If I was in the ANTIFA writer’s room to script this attack on the US Capitol to make Trump supporters look bad, and I pitched THIS, it would be shot down immediately for being too far fetched. pic.twitter.com/r2aACfsZS8
— Ronny Chieng (@ronnychieng) January 9, 2021
Censoring social media?
Violent rhetoric was directed against perceived adversaries in the form of Black Live Matters and anti-fascist groups.
Holt said, ‘There was a lot of chatter and excitement about going into the streets and spilling the blood of people they believe are communist or sympathetic to those causes.’
Of note, following Wednesday’s events, many extremists who were not on the ground took to social media to spread misinformation stating that any trouble was caused by BLM protesters or Antifa.
A pressing concern according to Holt is how Biden’s administration will seek to ‘combat’ the ‘threat that these groups may present during his administration and ongoing.’
Offers Holt, ‘The topic of online moderation and accountability for social media companies, and their complacency in terms of this sort of activity on their platforms, has to be part of a solution to what we have seen play out.
‘Until law makers and regulators really attempt to grapple with that I don’t think we’re going to see lasting solutions to these problems.’
Which is to wonder, in a bid to quell public discontent and or what is described as such, how far will government and big tech, social media outlets go in curtailing such dialogue, particularly where no concrete plans are found pointing to danger on the ground…