By Donnie O’Sullivan and Whitney Wilde | CNN
Call for violence against members 6 January Committee A new analysis has found that some are circulating on similar online platforms that helped fuel the lies that led to the rebellion.
Users on these platforms are openly demanding the execution of committee members, with Wyoming representative Liz Cheney appearing as a specific target. Demands for the hanging of former Vice President Mike Pence, which were sung across Washington DC on January 6, are echoing online.
Determining what is just rhetoric and what might be an active threat is a challenge for law enforcement.
John Cohen, former Department of Homeland Security Counter Terrorism Coordinator and now an assistant professor at Georgetown University, told CNN that officials cannot treat social media posts with related language as mere exaggerations.
Cohen described social media monitoring as a “resource intensive process that involves federal, state and local officials working together under strict protocols that ensure they are able to differentiate between constitutionally protected speech and threat-related activity.”
“We are in a period of highly volatile and complex threat,” he said.
Online threats continue as Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kizinger revealed on Sunday that he received a letter in the mail threatening to kill him, his wife and their newborn baby.
The decision by both Facebook and Twitter to shut down their platforms for rule-breaking after revolting to then-President Donald Trump was a boon to the developing cottage industry of alternative social media platforms.
Alternative sites like Trump’s Truth Social Platform, which launched in February, market themselves as bastions of free speech, capitalizing on the belief among some Republicans that they were unfairly censored by Silicon Valley. Is. Truth Social says it wants to “create a free speech haven in the social media arena and encourage your free expression.” Its terms of service state that posts must not be “violent” or “disturbing”.
An analysis by the group Advance Democracy, a nonprofit that investigates the public interest, shared with CNN, found posts on Truth Social Calling for the January 6 executions of committee members and others. The researchers searched for specific words on platforms such as “execute.”
A post on Truth Social included a picture of a noose and read, “J6 committee guilty of sedition. Perpetuating a rebellion hangs them all.”
On another post with reference to Cheney and Pelosi, a user posted a GIF of the guillotine with the message, “#MGGA #MakeGuillotinesGreatAgain.”
CNN asked Truth Social on Tuesday about several posts containing violent rhetoric, including a photo of a noose and a GIF of the guillotine. Truth Social did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment, but as of Wednesday, the post had been removed from the platform.
In addition to Truth Social, Advance Democracy also observed violent rhetoric associated with the January 6 committee posted on other alternative social media platform 4chan – which was Used by suspect in mass shooting in Buffalo, New York — as well as on Gab and on another message board popular among some Trump supporters.
While many of the posts identified had little engagement in Advance Democracy, all posts exemplify the trend of frequent calls to violence in these online communities.
“If we ever decide to storm the capital again, I promise we won’t make the mistake of going unarmed a second time,” commented a user on a pro-Trump message board earlier this month.
The post has since been removed.
TruthSocial and 4Chain did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
GAB CEO Andrew Torba told CNN, “GAB allows all legitimate political speech that is protected by the First Amendment—including speech about inherently political topics like treason charges and sentencing—through the American judicial system. When discussions turn to direct and imminent threats of violence, we will take action and work with our partners in law enforcement to reduce any threats to the public.
While many who post on these sites will never commit violence, others will – as evidenced by social media posts from some of those charged for their roles in the rebellion.
“Given the lack of content moderation on fringe platforms inhabited by far-flung communities, the amount of threats is much greater than on mainstream platforms,” Ben Decker, CEO of digital investigation company Memetica, told CNN.
Decker said that most of these related posts encourage “real-world violence”. [and] Not unlike the many threats that emerged in the weeks leading up to January 6.
Advance Democracy President Daniel J. Jones said the online threats come from people who falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen. “It is clear that the lies and actions perpetrated by Trump and the lawmakers who support him remain a serious threat to our democracy and the peaceful transition of power,” he said.
United States Capitol Police had no comment. CNN has also contacted the FBI, Pence’s office and Cheney’s office for comment.