The Growing Problem of Online Radicalization

The raid on the Capitol in Washington, D.C., has shown clearly just how dangerous online radicalization can be. By promoting hate and inciting violence, social media platforms represent a danger to democracy.

When the right-wing nationalist and Trump follower Tim Gionet forced his way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he brought his social network along with him. He was broadcasting live on the streaming platform DLive, popular in the gaming scene – and he even collected money from his supporters in real time from the in-app donation function. Gionet, who has become a well-known, right-wing internet agitator under the alias “Baked Alaska,” streamed for around 20 minutes, even trying to fire up his audience like a blowhard publicity hound. “We’ve got over 10,000 people live, watching. Let’s go!” he said. “Hit that follow button! I appreciate you guys.”

As Gionet and the rest of the mob pillaged their way through the halls of Congress, Gionet’s followers typed encouraging messages into the app’s chat channel – things like: “SMASH THE WINDOW,” and “HANG ALL THE CONGRESSMEN.” Indeed, it’s just like a live chat among gamers, which is what DLive is primarily used for. During the broadcast, his followers rewarded him with lemons, the currency used by the platform, which has become popular among right-wing extremists because it allows its users to do pretty much whatever they want.

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