According to a report from the Guardian, despite increasing awareness of domestic violence being fomented online following the Jan 6th Capitol riot, the message boards where QAnon gained a foothold and radicalized conservatives are thriving and filled with more exhortations to take up arms against Americans.
As The Guardian's Justin Ling reported, a recent mass shooting in Washington D.C., where a gunman shot four random people from his home before turning his gun on himself, appears linked to violent online rhetoric.
According to Ling, the April 22 shooting "was only the most recent mass-casualty attack to spawn out of the ugly extremist culture of unregulated internet message boards such as 4chan."
"That particular forum gave birth to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is combating a cabal of leftist pedophiles, before it moved on to its even-more-extreme cousin 8chan," he wrote. "QAnon has been particularly effective in crafting the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, inspiring the Capitol riot on 6 January 2021. A bipartisan Senate committee connected seven deaths to the attack."
According to Oren Segal, vice-president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, no one should be suprised that violent attacks will continue.
“The chans – 4chan, 8chan, etc – are some of the most vile places on the internet,” Segal explained adding w that what might seem like black humor also encourages violent acts that "seeps outside the confines of the message boards."
Case in point, someone logged onto 4chan as "Raymond Spencer" -- the same name as the April 22 shooter -- 2 minutes before the shooting began and "started a new thread titled 'shool [sic] shooting'."
As Ling wrote, "The newly published message contained a link – to a 30-second video of images captured from the digital scope of Spencer’s rifle. The clip streamed images and sounds of the barrage of bullets which slammed into cars and shattered windows at an adjacent school while also maiming four strangers."
"Anti-extremist groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have warned for years that 4chan and 8chan would continue inspiring domestic terror attacks. Cassie Miller, a researcher at the center, analyzed a self-selected survey of users to a white supremacist webforum. She found nearly 25% reported that they considered themselves radicalized – or, in their terms, 'redpilled' – by the culture of 4chan and 8chan," the Guardian report states before adding, "It was tied for the single most-reported pathway to radicalization."
As Segal notes, the forums continue to be a type of “cheering section" for violent acts, with the analyst warning they "normalize the kinds of narratives and grievances that are dangerous.”
Yiou can read more here.