A report by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) shows that technology companies enable violence from Antifa and other far-left organizations on their platforms. Memes expressing hateful rhetoric against law enforcement emerged alongside non-violent political slogans during the course of real-world protests, the report’s authors wrote.
The report also found a correlation between increased real-world violence and the proliferation of hate speech on social media posted by far-left groups, such as “anti-police memes” and “code words.” It mentioned that “while these data are only preliminary, they nevertheless suggest that traditionally anarchist, anti-police memes, slogans and code words fluctuated in sync with the recent political protests and unrest.”
The paper elaborated on far-left groups’ use of social media platforms to plan out real-world strategies against law enforcement. In the network-enabled mob, group members are assigned different tasks: “Range soldiers” attack police officers with projectiles, “fire mages” commit arson and burn nearby vehicles, “light mages” use laser pointers to blind law enforcement and “barricaders” create roadblocks to stop police vehicles from following rioters.
Network-enabled mob difficult to track down
According to the NCRI report, “one important feature of the network-enabled mob is its capacity to frustrate the ability of law enforcement to detect directed ideological attacks,” adding that a core group of actors controlling the network is “able to mobilize lawlessness and violence.” It warned that the widespread use of the network-enabled mob “enables a structure capable of adaptation and evolution, especially if it reappears over consecutive days of unrest.”’
The report’s authors cited one example of the network-enabled mob’s ability to simultaneously mobilize civil unrest over the internet, despite geographical distance. Left-leaning anarchist networks prepared, executed and promoted simultaneous riots July 25 using the Twitter hashtag #J25. The unrest on that date happened in four cities: Portland and Eugene in Oregon, Richmond in Virginia, and Seattle in Washington.
A Twitter analysis by the authors showed the #J25 hashtag progressively being used on Twitter in the days preceding the riots. Use of the hashtag spiked on the day itself and the next day, July 26, before dropping to sparse mentions. The authors also noted that rioters in the four cities used a uniform strategy—attacking courthouses and police precincts and using laser pointers and improvised fireworks against law enforcement officers.
Authorities looking at novel methods to track Antifa
As members of Antifa continue to destroy cities and attack law enforcement, Big Tech platforms turn a blind eye to the violent anti-government content they post. Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) downplays the organization’s propensity for violence, if outright not dismissing calls to prosecute it. FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers during a House hearing last month that Antifa was an ideological movement, different from President Donald Trump’s designation of it as a full-blown terrorist organization.
Because of the FBI’s unwillingness to examine the actual roots of Antifa, other government agencies have bypassed the bureau to conduct investigations of their own. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now conducting its own surveillance of Antifa using sophisticated mobile phone cloning technology to catch protesters’ communications and “get an inside view” of the hierarchy inside the organization.
In a report by The Nation, a DHS official familiar with the matter said a colleague with expertise in electronic surveillance was deployed to Portland. According to the official, the colleague’s mission involved “extracting information from protesters.” Two former intelligence officers seconded the official, saying that an interagency task force involving the DHS and the Department of Justice used a sophisticated cell phone cloning attack during the Portland riots to get hold of messages from protesters.