Chan Sites

Another trend is that a large number of anonvmous Chan sites have become safe zones for violent youth to post hate-filled views and launching pads for manifestos related to attacks, as with the El Paso (Appendix B: 1+3) and Christchurch (Appendix В: 138) attacks. Those who are running, previously 8chan and 8kun, make it very clear that those who run the site are speaking indirectly towards those who shut them down when they were known as 8chan and 8кип. At the very top of the home page, it reads, “Welcome to 8kun. Speak freely — legally.” Then further down the page:

Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochur es and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all

  • ( citing Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Talley r. California,
  • 362 U.S. 60).

Their audience and posters are often disenfranchised with the popular sites and are looking for places to discuss common interests without fear of censorship, like with the social media platform Gap. On, there is even a link to an option to bypass government censorship. Users are all different, with groups divided up in communities. In terms of threat concern, there are a growing number of white supremacy groups, and those who admire them, who share their ideas on the /Pol/ group (Garsd, 2019). Garsd stated, “/Pol/ stands for politics, but this is an extreme right-wing, racist community” (2019, p. 1). Garsd continues by describing the /Pol/ community as having the goal of radicalizing users. She shared, “Community members offer tips on weapons, discussions about the best tr anslated version of Mein Kampf and pictures of mass shooters portr ayed as saints” (Garsd, 2019, p. 1).


A recent report in ProPublica revealed that Atonrwaffen Division (AWD) uses Discord, which is a private, confidential, online chat service originally geared toward video gamers (Thompson et al., 2018). Atonrwaffen, which some feel is a harmless white supremacy group, is actually growing in membership. Its leaders work through social media to recruit new members. In addition to Discord, Atomwaffen uses, on which the founder of the group, Brandon Russell, announced,

The ATOMWAFFEN DIVISION is a group comprised of many members, and has been many years in the making, at least 3 years. Our exact numbers

J J O1 J

are not to be talked about too publicly but we are over +0 members strong. Large concentration in Florida, various smaller chapters throughout the US, such as Chicago, Texas, and New England, Boston, New York, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Oregon Virginia, and a few others.

(Southern Poverty Law Center, 201S, Para. 1+)

This neo-Nazi group is dangerous. It has the power to influence those at risk of becoming violent. In fact, a raid of a member’s residence revealed material to make explosives in addition to makeshift detonators, electric matches and two sources of radiation. Further, Samuel Woodward, a member of Atomwaffen, is said to be responsible for the murder of Blaze Bernstein, a gay, Jewish college student. Woodward murdered Bernstein and buried the body. It seems the news was leaked to the authorities, and from here it is important to realize the type of posts being shared among neo-Nazi groups and others who are walking the pathway to violence. Subsequent to the death of Blaze Bernstein, Atomwaffen members expressed their support for the killing of a gay man and the disdain for whoever leaked the information that implicated Woodward. But the posts do not end there. ProPublica discovered 250,000 messages shared via Discord among AWD members (Thompson et al., 2018).


TikTok has been described as, “The app where Gen Z vies for 15 seconds of fame.” (Schwedel, 201S, p. 1). TikTok is the most widely used form of social media and, while it was created to be harmless wav to share music and make videos, it has led to some controversy. Video clips on TikTok typically involve users dancing, singing, joke-telling and pranks. Yet, there is a dark side to TikTok. Anastasia Basil (2018), a writer and concerned parent, describes the day she accessed, which is the former name forTikTok, as follows:

There are #killingstalking musical.lys, which are dark-themed (artistic? emo?) videos showing boys putting knives to girls' throats. There are #self- harm videos that show suicide options — bathtubs filling, images of blades, a child’s voice saying she doesn’t want to live any more. I валу a boy with a bleeding chest (yes, real blood). I saw a young girl whose thighs were so cut up I had to take a break from writing this article. A long break. The images are deeply upsetting. There are #cutter and #triggerwarning and #anorexic videos. Musers with eating disorders hashtag videos using proana (code for pro anorexia.) I found over eleven thousand #selfhate videos. It goes on and on. Each hashtag is its own magical wardrobe, a portal into a world where it’s alwavs winter but never Christmas


(Basil, 2018).

In addition to what Basil describes above, there are disturbing hashtags related to school shootings. In a recent post, a student made a video with finger-gun gestures and gunshot sound effects pointing at three schools in Florida (Appendix B: 170). It’s easy to find videos with the #schoolshooting hashtag. As of March 2020, the #schoolshooting hashtag reached approximately 16.7 million views on TikTok. Many of the videos are created as a way to cope with the fear that comes with being part of the school-shooting generation. Other clips depict students hiding in classrooms, standing up after a shooting has ended, and there are several in which teenagers and college-aged students use the “better outrun mv gun” lvr- ics from the song, “Pumped Up Kicks.”

Because TikTok is open for anyone and everyone, it is easy to find vulnerable, lonely youth who become dependent on TikTok, almost addicted to the content. Just a few months ago,TikTok shut down 2+ accounts because they were spreading ISIS propaganda through their videos. Depicted, and accessible to all TikTok owners, were videos of dead bodies, shouts of allegiance to ISIS and other sensationalized portrayals of terrorism. The open, anonymous and quick method of creating an account and posting content creates opportunities to expose other users to violent and concerning content. While TikTok monitors its users and content, the nature of the app will always leave the company in a reactive, rather than preventative, posture. If there is a silver lining threatening texts, they do provide administrators, law enforcement, counselors and teachers an opportunity to monitor social media content to better inform a violence risk assessment. This is particularly effective when paired with educational and awareness programming for all students in order to increase the potential for someone in the community to share a concerning post.


  • • Ask the child or teen what social media sites they use.
  • • Select options to block inappropriate content or review content prior to deliverv.


• Use a strong password that includes uncommon words, upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and a symbol. Do not use the same password for multiple sites.

  • • When the app or website allows, set who they can receive or send messages to or friend requests from.
  • • Establish an age limit and check their privacy settings, ensuring their profile is set to private.
  • • Be careful about postings of pictures or videos that expose vulnerabilities or personal data.
  • • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.

Moving Forward

Having explored the use of social media by the new generation, we are now better suited to understand the vector, or wav information is shared. When the content


of the text, videos, memes, GIFs and videos on social media contain threatening or concerning themes, this allows administrators, teachers, counselors and law enforcement to better analyze the nature of the concern. In the next chapter, we will review common risk factors for targeted, or mission-oriented, violence.


Basil, A. (2018). Porn is not the worst tiling on Retrieved on March 12, 2020 https:// Garsd, J. (2019). Site’s ties to shootings renew debate over internet’s role in radicalizing extremists. Retrieved on March 12, 2020 from https:// sites-ties-to-shootings-renews-debate-over-internet-s-role-in-radicalizing-extre McBride, T. (2020). The Marist College mindset list, class of 2023. Retrieved on March 13, 2020 from https: / / Rogers, C. (1977). Carl Rogers on personal power: Inner strength and its revolutionary impact. New York: Delacorte Press.

Schwedel, H. (2018). A guide to the appTikTok for anyone who isn’t a teen. Retrieved on March 12, 2020 from https: // S/09/tiktok-app-musically-guide.html Southern Poverty Law Center. (2018). Atomwaffen division. Retrieved on March 28, 2020 from https: / / Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (1997). The fourth turning: An American prophesy. New York: Broadway Books. Thompson, A. C., Winston, A., & Hanrahan, J. (2018). Inside Atomwaffen as it celebrates a member for allegedly killing a gay Jewish college student. Retrieved on March 12, 2020 from https://wvvw. tide/atomwaffen-division-inside-white-hate-group?utm_campaign— sprout&utm_source—youtube&utm_medium—social&utm_term—atomwaffen

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >