On Jan. 6, rioters used the video app TikTok to recruit participants and even warned against bringing guns to the Stop the Steal rally that preceded it, the Department of Homeland Security says.
DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis released a report in April highlighting concerns that violent content was growing on China’s social media platform, from promoting the riots and acts of terrorism to instructing others on how to build bombs and run railroad tracks. sabotage.
The five pages report, obtained by the transparency watchdog group Property of the People and shared with Politico on Thursday, comes as federal authorities investigate the role social media companies like TikTok played in the Capitol uprising, which killed five people and charged more than 600 people with crimes.
Supporters of President Donald Trump used social platforms to stage the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, with evidence showing that some had promoted violence using apps like TikTok
The Department of Homeland Security detailed how TikTok was used to promote violence and extremism on its platform
TikTok, a Chinese social media company, has about 100 million US users
DHS officials issued a specific warning about TikTok because authorities were initially unaware of the platform and how it was used.
But now officials understand that the platform has become a popular site for extremist activity, Politics reports.
The social media giant has about 100 million active users in the US, with TikTok generally seen as a place for younger users to upload funny or informative videos complete with sound and visual effects.
The agency cited multiple videos promoting the Jan. 6 riots, including of a user telling others to bring firearms to the Capitol.
DHS also reported on TikTok videos discussing how to tamper with railroad tracks, interfere with the National Guard during riots, and access White House tunnels.
They also described incidents on board where terrorists used the platform to promote their plans and ideals. In October 2019, ISIS had used TikTok to show off corpses, weapons and their acts of violence.
Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, said TikTok’s algorithm makes it easy to bring alt-right conspiracy theories and extremist content to its users.
“The TikTok algorithm is so good that before you know it you are in a domestic violent extremism spiral,” Hughes told Politico.
The DHS report made a similar point.
TikTok’s application layout and algorithms may inadvertently contribute to individuals’ efforts to promote violent extremist content, the report said.
“A user’s account may have zero followers, but may have a significant number of viewers on some videos, which could help violent extremist TikTok users evade TikTok’s content moderation efforts,” it continues.
DHS warned TikTok’s algorithm makes it easy to distribute extremist content
An image from TheDonald.win urges the public to “be there” on January 6 in Washington, DC, where it will “be wild.” It was posted on various social media platforms, including TikTok
Police clash with protesters on Capitol Hill on January 6
Hundreds of protesters made their way to the Capitol, with several making active threats against members of the House
TikTok has said it is working to curb extremism on its platform.
“There is absolutely no place for violent extremism or hate speech on TikTok, and we are working aggressively to remove such content and ban those who violate our Community Guidelines,” spokesperson Jamie Favazza said in a statement.
Older social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube have experienced similar problems with their algorithms easily promoting alt-right conspiracies.
Those algorithms are mathematical codes that other content users recommend to watch based on what they’ve recently watched.
The House Selection Committee investigating the Capitol riots is reviewing internal documents from Facebook, Twitter, Parler and TikTok to see what role they played in the violence.
In the wake of violence, BuzzFeed News reported that supporters of President Donald Trump used social media platforms to stage the Capitol riots.
Far-right Trump supporters had posted anonymously on TheDonald.win, a Reddit-esque bulletin board created after Reddit banned a subreddit of the same name last year for its content.
Comments on TheDonald during the Capitol occupation included “WE WANT BLOOD” and “Pelosi murder,” according to research firm Advance Democracy Inc.
“On TheDonald, more than 50 percent of the top posts on Jan. 4, 2021, about the January 6 Electoral College certification, unmoderated calls to violence were in the top five responses,” the organization noted.
A TheDonald user swore he would be ‘willing to die’ for Trump and that ‘we will win on January 6’
‘The only solution is total revolution,’ another pro-Trump user wrote on TheDonald
‘Bring rope. I had a hunch we’re going to need it,” another poster wrote on TheDonald.win
“On January 6, the revolution has begun to take back our nation. Don’t give up. Take everything,’ wrote another poster on TheDonald
Another image on the site calls on Trump supporters to ‘tar and feather these f*****s’
Parle CEO John Matze emphasized that unlike Twitter and Facebook, his platform was a “neutral city square”
“ARMED WITH RIFLE, HANDGUN, 2 KNIVES AND AS MUCH munitions AS YOU CAN CARRY,” reads a message on the website.
“What if Congress ignores the evidence?” a TheDonald user wrote in a thread.
“Storm the Capitol,” another replied. The answer review more than 500 likes.
“You’re damn right,” said another.
While the violence was going on, a popular thread titled: ‘PATRIOTS STORM THE CAPITOL | WATCH PARTY.’
Parler CEO John Matze denied that his app is responsible for the violence. He said his shift is more like a “neutral town square.”
“If people break the law, violate our terms of service, or do something illegal, we would definitely get involved,” he said. The New York Times.
“But if people are just trying to get together or try to organize an event — which a lot of people were trying to do at this event today — then there’s nothing special about that.”
Matze said Parler has removed accounts that engaged in “doxxing” — or posting personal information about users in an attempt to harass others.
When asked whether Parler is responsible for Trump supporters using the app on Wednesday to stage the looting of the Capitol, he said, “Organizing an event is not illegal.”