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Alt-right extremists have been getting riled up online watching the January 6 hearings: experts

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/22/2022 (Laura Italiano)
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a "Save America" rally in Anchorage, Alaska, on July 9, 2022. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider Former President Donald Trump speaks during a "Save America" rally in Anchorage, Alaska, on July 9, 2022. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Alt-right extremists watch the January 6 Committee hearings too, say experts who monitor their chatter online.
  • Hearing days correspond to spikes in conspiracy theories on Telegram, Gab, 4Chan, and other 'niche' sites, they say.
  • A fake document blaming the Capitol attack on 'antifa' and the FBI pinged around these sites after the last hearing.

Alt-right extremists watch the January 6 hearings, too — and there is a corresponding spike in conspiracy theories and denial about the veracity of the hearings' findings when they air, says an expert who monitors their online chatter.

On Telegram, Parler, 4Chan and other sites, chatter turns to who they think really stormed the Capitol, said Ross Frenett, CEO and founder of Moonshot, a DC-based global counter-terrorism organization.

"You get spikes in talk about 'This was all antifa,' and 'This was all FBI,' and "This was an inside job' — all a big part of what they talk about," Frenett told Insider.

Alt-right sites on Telegram include a recurring hearing "Watch Party" — "Well tonight is the big finale," one user posted hours before Thursday's hearing — and some very active Proud Boys and Oath Keepers chapters.

Video: Jan. 6 panel to focus on extremist groups who stormed Capitol (TODAY)


"J6 Committee Deceives a Nation!" "Proud Boys Infiltrated!" and "Proud Boys Did Nothing Wrong" were common memes on Proud Boys chapter channels in the lead-in to Thursday's hearing.

Pleas for contributions to the legal defense of Enrique Tarrio mingle with links to InfoWars and Gateway Pundit "exclusives" promising details on "leaked evidence" and "Liz Cheney's Bogus Seditious Conspiracy Charges."  

"It's an attempt, when legitimate documents and findings are released, for them to release their own documents," said Frenett.

"Then it becomes, 'He said, she said' to the members, right? They say, 'Well, there are two sides to this.'" 

During the last hearing, on July 12, a fake or doctored FBI surfaced on 4Chan and was shared many thousands of times in the following 24 hours, said Frenett. 

"It claimed to be evidence that the FBI knew that the Proud Boys weren't violent, and that the Proud Boys weren't involved in this at all," he said.

"It's basically groups that are pro-Oath Keepers, pro-Proud Boys, their Telegram groups. A bunch of anonymous folks that sit at the center of these various ecosystems," said Frenett, whose group informs the Department of Homeland Security on emerging trends and risks.

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