VICE News analyzed 150 public-facing far-right Telegram channels and found that more than two-thirds were created in the first eight months of 2019. And not only do white nationalists have a much more robust presence on Telegram than they did two years ago, but their channels have grown more sophisticated, violent and terroristic over time.Telegram makes a lot of sense for those groups: The app allow users to upload unlimited videos, images, audio clips and other files, and its founder has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to protecting user data from third parties — including governments.READ: How teachers are fighting the white nationalists brainwashing their students.“For the most hardened rank and file extremists, there is a definitive shift toward encrypted or smaller platforms where the messaging is both more vile and violent,” said Brian Levin, who leads the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
“There is a definitive shift toward encrypted or smaller platforms where the messaging is both more vile and violent.”
The thriving far-right Telegram community is also a reminder that exiling extremists from mainstream social media platforms and forcing their websites, like 8chan, offline, may temporarily inconvenience the movement — but doesn’t necessarily fix the problem.And in some cases, it might even make things worse.“Whenever there’s single platform shutdowns or deplatforming, these clusters of hate evolve and move around, and get smarter,” said Miller-Idriss. “It’s Darwinian. It can lead to more creativity to figure out how to get around bans. In general, I think banning has never worked as a solution to stem any kind of extremism, but it can send important signals to everyone else.”
“There’s been a shift from fantasy to action in these groups.”