The Boogaloo Bois are back on Facebook. Turns out the Oath Keepers are even more full of law enforcement, military and elected officials than we knew. And the hate-filled messaging board Kiwi farms has disappeared from the internet.
If that’s an extraordinary word salad, then let me help you digest it.
It’s the week in extremism.
Last week’s roundup:Inside our FBI investigation, plus news on Oath Keepers, armed leftists
Boogaloo back on Facebook:
The Boogaloo Bois, a movement birthed and grown online that is obsessed with memes, guns and a possible second civil war, has been reappearing on its favorite platform, Facebook, in recent weeks, according to a report by the Tech Transparency Project provided exclusively to USA TODAY.
TTP found several Boogaloo-affiliated groups including one with more that 4,000 members had expanded in the weeks since the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home and club Mar-a-Lago.
- The Boogaloo movement is rabidly anti-federal government. Dozens of supporters of the ideology have been arrested on charges ranging from terrorism to conspiracy, and there have been at least two deadly shootings by Boogaloo.
- The recent rise in Boogaloo activity on Facebook mirrors a sharp increase in threats made towards the federal government in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago search.
- Impact: After USA TODAY’s story and TTP’s report were published, Facebook removed the groups and pages mentioned in the report. But as TTP director Katie Paul told USA TODAY Thursday: “Facebook conducted their usual piecemeal removal to cover themselves from additional scrutiny. We’re still waiting on Facebook to reach out for help … or create a line for researchers to contact that’s not their ineffective report button.”
Who are the Oath Keepers, really?
A new deep-dive from the Anti-Defamation League reveals that hundreds of law enforcement officers, members of the military, first responders and elected officials have, at one point, paid dues to the armed extremist group the Oath Keepers. The group’s findings shed more light on issues my colleagues and I investigated last year.
- Last fall, the watchdog group Distributed Denial of Secrets shared a massive trove of data taken from the private chatroom database of the extremist armed group the Oath Keepers. The leak included a huge database purportedly detailing the names and other information about 38,000 people who had at one point paid dues to the organization.
- USA TODAY used that data to report two stories about who those people were. One outlines how almost 200 people on the list had identified themselves as law enforcement officers. Another detailed 20 active duty members of the military on the list, and how the Pentagon could have itself looked into the Oath Keepers membership.
- The ADL report goes even deeper, detailing hundreds of public officials and law enforcement officers who were on the list state-by-state.
- Of note: The ADL report shows that, of the 38,000 people on the list, the most (3,301) came from Texas. Virginia had the most military sign-ups identified (15) and New York had the most law enforcement officers (45). You can take a look at your own state using an interactive map here.
Oath Keepers founder profile:Who is Stewart Rhodes?
Website Kiwi Farms offline
Kiwi Farms, an online message board that was the subject of an in-depth NBC story late last week about the site’s ongoing culture of harassment and abuse, particularly against transgender people. The site was dropped on Saturday by the internet infrastructure company Cloudfare, resulting in it going offline.
- NBC’s story details a campaign against Kiwi Farms by Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who was herself subjected to a campaign of abuse from the trolls who call Kiwi Farms home. Sorrenti had to leave first her home, then her country, trying to escape the abuse.
- Kiwi Farms is also infamous for hosting videos of live-streamed mass shooters and organizing efforts to “doxx” and “swat” people the site’s users don’t like. (“Doxx” is slang for publicly releasing private information, like an address or telephone number, gleaned from documents; “swat” means falsely reporting urgent crimes at the target’s home with the hope that law enforcement will disrupt and possibly hurt them. Both, especially the latter, can put the subject and others in danger.)
- Cloudflare, which among other services provides protection against “denial of service” attacks designed to overwhelm websites with large amounts of traffic, has a history of at first allowing harmful websites, but then buckling to public pressure to stop working with them, as detailed in this story in The Guardian.
- As of Thursday afternoon, Kiwi Farms was offline. Good riddance.