Social Media Is Being Used To Turn Truth Upside Down

Many of Donal Trump's extreme supporters are convinced that the US Capitol protests were staged by militant left-wing protesters. Social media users have been sharing content online suggesting that those who stormed the US Capitol on January 6th were left wing activists from 'Antifa' groups, not Trump supporters, despite all the evidence to the contrary. 

There have been numerous pictures posted on socail media that purport to be evidence, but on close examination  do not support this claim and now the FBI has said there is “no indication at this time” that Antifa had played a role in the mob that stormed the Capitol.

The House impeached President Trump for the second time exactly one week after the deadly riot at the Capitol, with 10 House Republicans joining Democrats in saying Trump incited the violent insurrection. Posts and email discussions are happening on less popular and less public online platforms, where many Trump supporters from far-right and conspiracy groups have migrated after being removed from Facebook and Twitter after the Capitol riot on 6 January.

Social media platforms and web hosting services have removed accounts and chat apps that Trump supporters used to coordinate the assault on the Capitol, but that also has made it harder for law enforcement officials to monitor those who might be planning violence.

One post shared on Gab, a Twitter-like platform popular with far-right groups, called for armed protests in Washington and 50 state capitals ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration which has prompted a warning from the FBI to national law enforcement officials. 

Other posts have pointed to a change of heart. Posts on The Donald, a website full of extreme, violent content and pro-Trump conspiracy theories, have urged people not to attend rallies. Its members are furious about the President's second impeachment, reserving particular anger for the 10 Republicans who voted in favour of it.

  • Thousands of users have flocked to Telegram after Twitter shut down more than 70,000 accounts affiliated with QAnon, a conspiracy theory that claims that a secretive cabal of Democratic Satan worshipers runs the government.
  • On messaging platform Telegram, the far-right, anti-immigrant Proud Boys group, some of whose members were identified among the crowd at the Capitol riot, issued a similar warning."If you see anyone dressed as a Proud Boy out at one of the protests," one post read. "They're either a fed FBI or Antifa."
  • There is also the impression of an increasing sense of paranoia among roups on alternative social media platforms that openly called for violence, who now worry that they have been infiltrated by government agents or left-wing activists. 

Owners and moderators of right-wing social media platforms have posted messages asking members not to post incitement to violence. But violent threats against House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and Republican Vice-President Mike Pence, whom the groups had hoped would overturn the election result, remain widespread.

Throughout four years of his controversial term, President Trump has maintained an approval rating that rarely budged from a 10-point band between 35 and 45 percent. Nothing he could say, do or tweet appeared to dramatically change public opinion of him. But the events in Washington DC when a violent mob of Trump supporters incited by the president stormed the Capitol, appear to have damaged him in his final days in office in a way that finally adversely affected his popularity.

Reuters:      Washington Post:     San Francisco Chronicle:     New York Times:        BBC:

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