8chan and Reacting to Online Radicalization

Timothy McLaughlin joins us to describe the history of 8chan and its association with recent mass shootings. 

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The recent shootings in El Paso and Gilroy are a reminder of the power of the internet to build communities for niche interests, from vampire fan fiction aficionados to neo-Nazis. The El Paso shooter posted his manifesto to 8chan, a hub for dank memes and hateful content alike. Timothy McLaughlin joins the show to explain where 8chan came from and the personalities people behind its founding.

Then Paul, Matthew, and Will discuss the ways that online radicalization of the alt-Right is both similar to past waves of terrorist radicalization and dissimilar in that it is stochastic and requires less organizational structure. Finally, they caution against government overreaction to the legitimate problem of online radicalization, given that most of the proposed measures wouldn’t work, might even backfire, and would create significant, ill, and unintended consequences for positive online social movements.

What is 8chan? How is 8chan organized? Who created 8chan and what was its’ original purpose? How should forms of exchange be regulated in the wake of horrific events? Does the use of mass communication inspire people to commit terrible acts of terror? Why are criminal manifestos posted on 8chan? What is stochastic terrorism? How should government respond to the problem of online radicalization?

Further Reading:

The Weird Dark History of 8Chan, written by Timothy McLaughlin

Trump wants social media to detect mass shooters before they commit crimes, written by Rani Molla

‘Shut the Site Down,’ Says the Creator of 8chan, a Megaphone for Gunmen, written by Kevin Roose

Related Content:

Haters Gonna Hate Speech, Building Tomorrow Podcast

How the FOSTA Rules Create a “Bootleggers and Baptists” Scenario for the 21st Century, written by Paul Matzko

What Made the Internet Possible?, Building Tomorrow Podcast

00:05 Paul Matzko: Welcome to Building Tomorrow, a podcast about the ways tech and innovation are making our world a better place. The internet is a marvelous invention. From your laptop or smartphone, you can speedily, and for almost no cost, access a huge portion of the totality of human knowledge. You wanna learn how to fix your F-150 truck’s carburetor? Well, there’s a dozen videos of that. Want to read the out of print commentary on Plato’s Republic? There’s a website for that. Want to video chat with your cousin who’s studying abroad in Japan? There’s any number of free services that let you do that. It’s never been easier for people also to find informed communities than it is today. If you’re one of, I don’t know, the several hundred people around the world obsessed with an out-of-date ’80s cartoon, you can write and exchange fan fiction about it to your heart’s content.

00:54 Paul Matzko: We can form social ties around the increasingly niche ideas from persecuted religious organizations to advocates for sexual equality to political protest movements. But there is a dark lining to that silver cloud. Those same tools can be used to form harmful, anti-social identities on platforms like Reddit, and YouTube, 8chan, the host of online message boards alienated young people, often young men are building communities around hateful ideologies. Sometimes that hate spills out into real world direct action like the recent shootings in Gilroy, California and El Paso, Texas. Both shooters had posted to online fora just before their horrific acts. This is an appropriate time for us at Building Tomorrow then to discuss the rise of online radicalization, just how it works and what our response as people who enjoy and appreciate technology should be. I have a special guest in the line today, journalist Timothy McLaughlin who wrote a fascinating piece for WIRED recently about The Weird, Dark History of 8chan. It’ll be a link to the show notes, so that you all can read it yourselves. Welcome to the show, Timothy.

02:01 Timothy McLaughlin: Yeah, sure. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

02:03 Paul Matzko: So for our listeners who have very little familiarity with 8chan. I mean, those of us who are a little more digital natives have at least, whether we’ve been there or not, we know how the system works. But for those who aren’t familiar, what is 8chan? How does it function as a website?

02:20 Timothy McLaughlin: Sure. So it’s a message board or image board rather, to be more specific, that’s anonymous, that it’s a big part of it, and a big part of the attraction, and perhaps with the reason some of the content as the way it is, that people can use to post images, short messages. I think, to most… Even not to most, but to a lot of people who are used to kind of surfing the modern kind of web that’s available to a lot of people, Facebook, Twitter, those kind of YouTube popular platforms, they would find 8chan, and at least, in its appearance to be quite rudimentary or stripped down much like a kind of 4chan or almost kind of Craigslist-like. Like something from maybe the past internet age, so that’s kind of what the appearance looks like or looked like before. Yeah, so I think that’s kind of the best way to visualize it if you’ve never kind of logged on to the site before.

03:07 Paul Matzko: It’s full of, as you say, it’s like an image, a lot of image, image-based message board.

03:12 Timothy McLaughlin: Sure, yeah.

03:12 Paul Matzko: Lots of memes and such percolate up out of 8chan?

03:17 Timothy McLaughlin: Yeah, and there’s a lot of, I guess, maybe one misconception would be that it’s kind of just like one website. It’s just more a… Yeah, I mean, it is one website, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are different boards covering different topics then certainly there’s ones that are more notorious than others. There’s boards that cover a wide variety of kind of topics and issues for people to engage and debate and kind of chat about. And so it’s not… Some of the defenders of 8chan would argue that it’s not all the bad stuff, that there are boards on there that are much more, let’s say, perhaps civilized or more PC in their content.

03:55 Paul Matzko: Right. There’s a lot of… I mean, a lot of attention gets paid and arguably rightly so to the content, to the threads that are… Or boards that are dedicated to racism, nativism, calls to violence, pornography, all that kind of thing, but that’s not all that 8chan is. Can you give me maybe a history of 8chan in a nutshell? Where does it come from? Who starts it?

04:18 Timothy McLaughlin: Yeah, sure. So I mean, think the site was founded by a guy named Fredrick Brennan who was living in New York at the time when he started the… He was working as a computer programmer and started the site kind of as a answer or a spin-off to 4chan, another very popular image board that people are probably likely a bit more familiar with, gave rise to a lot of the memes that have made into the public sphere and also the anonymous groups and things like that. And so Fredrick, a very interesting guy, and he was, I think, frustrated with some of the content moderation that he saw from the administrator of 4chan back in 2013, or probably starting before that, he would say, and Christopher Poole who served as the administrator of 4chan and the founder of the site. And so he wanted to start a place where he thought the conversations and the content could be less restrained. And went about building 8chan. By his own admission, it wasn’t an immediate success.

05:17 Timothy McLaughlin: It took a while for him to pull over users and to get people online. And a big impetus for that, or what kind of helped push people, users onto 8chan was the Gamergate controversy that erupted back in 2014, a very anti-female, I think we could say that fairly, movement in the gaming community. Christopher Poole, the administrator of 4chan, made a decision to ban the topic after it became, yeah, too toxic for the site. And a lot of the users were looking for somewhere else to go at that time and Fredrick’s site was sitting there, and at the time, he was more than happy to take them on and to have them join his message board. And I think another thing that was perhaps worth noting is that he wanted people to have a bit more control like he wanted to give people the ability to kind of start their own boards and originally have a bit more buy-in in the site, have a bit more control rather than have an administrator role, which he thought 4chan had an administrative role that was probably too powerful.

06:19 Paul Matzko: I mean, there is clearly some kind of online radicalization process that can happen in these spaces. I assume… You were doing most of your research for this piece before the recent shootings?

06:32 Timothy McLaughlin: Yeah.

06:32 Paul Matzko: Were you thinking about this radicalization process even before El Paso and Gilroy and the like?

06:38 Timothy McLaughlin: So I think what attracted to me to this was after the… It was a site that I was kind of aware of in the back of my mind, and I had been doing a lot of reporting and writing the past year about other platforms, mostly Facebook, WhatsApp, a little bit about Google and YouTube, about how they go about moderating and looking at content and how things get spread, actions or mobilizations that can be done through messaging platforms or through social media. And 8chan is obviously wildly different from these kind of large multinational billion dollar corporations. So I was interested in doing it because it was smaller but obviously also represents a much more kind of fringe and radical element. And so I started… I guess I got really interested in it, I started talking to Frederick and making trips to the Philippines right after the New Zealand shooting, which had some links to the site and also the shooter posted on there, kind of got cheered on and things like that.

07:44 Timothy McLaughlin: But I would say that those again represent kind of the most extreme version of that. But there’s extreme things, you know, you look at reporters being harassed, who for a long time, if you wrote about 8chan you kinda had a target on your back. I talked to reporters who had been doxed by people whose parents had had their identities stolen, their bank accounts wiped out, FBI agents had to be stationed outside their houses. Video game designers or people in the gaming community, especially females getting tons of rape threats, again a lot of doxing. The real world things that come out of these sites, the shooting is the most extreme end of it, but there’s a lot of bad stuff in the middle as well. A lot of people have had really terrible experiences with users of these types of sites.

08:29 Paul Matzko: Yeah. There’s… You quote the La Trobe University scholar at one point that I recall saying that, quote, “Being mean to each other is just part of operating on 4chan.” And that’s 4chan, let alone the more kind of extreme 8chan. There’s a toxicity that is kind of baked into the community for whatever reason. Now, do you see… Is that kind of toxicity inherent to the space as a whole? Like, kind of how anonymous comment sections on websites just naturally attract trolls and bad faith actors? Or is it the function of the particular culture of those sites? I guess this as a way of asking are there non-toxic versions of 8chan and the 4chan and… Have you seen evidence that these are in particular, problematic anonymized kind of open message boards?

09:20 Timothy McLaughlin: I think there’s degrees of all this but I’ll just share an anecdote that I heard from researchers and also I heard from Frederick is that a belief amongst a lot of users, and amongst Frederick himself for a long time, was that people using the site, he believed that, and like I said, researchers who have talked to a lot of predominantly 4chan users, you know, you hear this idea of like it kind of strips the mask away from people, so they don’t need to act in a kind of politically correct way. And a lot of them feel that if anyone sat down behind a computer and kind of became really engaged and started using the site, they would say that kind of stuff, the really kind of offensive things that we see posted on there, that it kind of strips away a mask, I guess, that people wear in every day life. So that’s kind of one…

10:05 Paul Matzko: It’s a really grim view of human nature isn’t it? [chuckle]

10:08 Timothy McLaughlin: Yeah. And so that’s certainly kind of one way of looking at it and certainly one way people think about it. In terms of message board systems otherwise, I think there are communities and online platforms that are less, certainly less problematic. I think people would point to Reddit as like a kind of, not image board, but perhaps it similar… Again, not exactly the same, but something kind of in that vein that that’s less problematic. I’m covering protests in Hong Kong at the moment. There’s a message board here that’s been instrumental kind of organizing protests and bringing out people out to the street. So I think there are sites out there, again, I think it’s degrees of all this stuff and kind of the user base and who gets drawn to the platforms.

[music]

11:00 Paul Matzko: For this next segment, I’m joined in the studio by Matthew Feeney and Will Duffield. Now Matthew, sadly, it wasn’t all that long ago that you and I recorded an episode in response to the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand. Are there any connections we can draw between that event and the recent shootings in the US?

11:17 Matthew Feeney: Good question. I think when you look at these two events, they’re both of course, mass shootings, and both perpetrated by people who published manifestos on their complaints outlining a series of grievances. They both seemed to share similar themes, namely concern about ethnic replacement, as they put it, and also concern about the environment and what all this, about what the impact of immigration on what they perceive as the West. But it goes beyond I think just the incident and the motivation per se. We’ve predictably seen in the wake of the most recent shootings, as we saw in the wake of the Christchurch shooting, discussions about content moderation, how social media sites and even other forums for exchange, how they should be regulated. I think this is a natural reaction in the wake of something so horrific. People always look back in time and think, “Well, wasn’t this predictable? Look at these peoples’ behavior.” And for reasons I’m sure I’ll get into I think that’s not necessarily the correct approach.

12:17 Paul Matzko: And I think there might have been in the El Paso manifesto an explicit call-out to Christchurch. Am I right about that?

12:23 Matthew Feeney: I believe that’s right. Yes.

12:24 Will Duffield: Yes, he referenced the Christchurch shooter’s The Great Replacement manifesto in his… And in many cases, these folks are participating and if not the same but similar online communities, they’re consuming similar media to one another surrounding these topics and concerns and they fit into a broader movement, in a sense, of international nationalists. I think, ironically, in a sense they tend not to be particularly rooted in whatever communities they’re purportedly trying to save or defend…

13:05 Paul Matzko: It’s like you had… If El Paso cites the Christchurch shooter who cited or referenced in his manifesto, Anders Breivik, the Norwegian shooter. So to your point an internationalist, nationalist movement in the…

[overlapping conversation]

13:20 Will Duffield: And beyond their manifestos, the kind of written justifications they lay out for the horrible things they’ve done. Going back to Breivik and mass shooters before him, they’re following an aesthetic script there. They’re carrying out very similar styles of attacks. They’re looking for publicity in similar ways with this sort of manifesto posting. So I think it goes beyond just the ideas behind it, but how they seek to be perceived, how they hoped to place themselves as warriors in a way. And that might account for some of the use of firearms as well, the aesthetics of the attack. Yeah, you’ll hear these sorts of attacks described as stochastic terrorism, or the use of mass communication to incite random actors to carry out violence or terrorist attacks that are statistically predictable. They track the rhetoric you’re hearing, the sorts of things these communities are discussing, but individually unpredictable. You don’t know who’s consuming what message precisely, or how someone will react to a given message and therefore, when they might decide to carry out an attack like this.

14:45 Paul Matzko: It leads to this lone wolf is often a term the media likes ‘cause it’s a lot more, it’s a lot sexier than saying, stochastic terrorism. This lone wolf shooter is someone who’s not really plugged into a formal organization network, but carries out these acts of violence anyways.

15:02 Will Duffield: And feels as though, while they are acting individually, that they’re acting on behalf of a broader cause. It’s not someone who sees themself as individually deciding to go and do this, but merely one soldier within a broader distributed movement.

15:23 Matthew Feeney: I think that gets to your alienation point at the beginning, which is namely that although these kind of incidents happen all over the world in separate places, it seems that to a segment of the community that pays attention to where these manifestos and commentary are posted and discussed, so they nonetheless feel part of something important. And that’s something I think we’re still trying to get the grips with decades after the emergence of the internet as we know it.

15:51 Will Duffield: Alright. I think with regard to many of these manifestos and this sentiment, we’ve seen it linked to 4chan and particularly 8chan/poll board. And over the past decade, I would say these image boards have, while they originally used a lot of Nazi rhetoric, fascist rhetoric, along with gore and pornography, was seen as a means of maintaining barriers to entry. Over time, that allow… While it might keep the normies out, it means that the actual Nazis, those who un-ironically celebrate this kind of content, had a safe harbor and could really build a community within that space without raising red flags or facing censure from other community members because you could simply respond that it was all for the lols.

16:50 Paul Matzko: There’s like a protective shield that kinda goes with the 8chans. Their community, the way the culture…

16:57 Will Duffield: Well, historically, yeah. There was a “try to keep the normies out” and used this really sort of outwardly vile culture to do so, to put people off who weren’t willing to tolerate that.

17:16 Paul Matzko: What role does… So can we argue that there is a particular role for the internet that makes this kind of stochastic terrorism possible, which would have been much harder to imagine in a previous era of our anarchist bombers or the like. What is it about the internet that makes this possible?

17:35 Will Duffield: It’s cheap communication. It’s people… And discovery. Discovery costs have been lowered as well. So not only can you find like-minded individuals more easily, you can also speak with them more easily. And people may come across this sort of content for the first time on places like 4chan or 8chan, or move there from more traditional channels. But when you see these most worrying communities, real avowed young Neo-Nazis, they’re communicating for the most part in private outside of explicit recruiting. Their conversations are occurring on Discord, on private forums like Iron March, in encrypted messaging apps, and less so in public within, say, 8chan. That’s more of a vector to those more niche committed platforms.

18:37 Matthew Feeney: There is that, I think, Will’s point raises something with pondering, which is that you get the opportunity to form a community in the way you just didn’t years and years ago. And Paul started this conversation discussing the fact that it’s easier for people to find with people with like-minded interests and all the rest… So, if I like, I don’t know, certain board games or I like certain music, it’s impossible to find like-minded interests. But this culture that we’ve been describing is, I don’t know, I suppose fascinating in the most horrible way possible. [chuckle] It has this very particular kind of aesthetic to it, it’s got its own emergent literature, it has its own slang. It’s much more than just a simple exchange of a tip on how to play something or how to make something. It’s much broader than that. And this is the kind of thing that I think really freaks people out about this sort of thing, is that it’s not just a typical kind of forum or exchange.

19:37 Will Duffield: Yeah. You’re seeing a class of Amazon self-published books by folks popular within this movement. And while they might not all be Nazi tracks, they’re speaking to a commonly felt alienation within this cohort.

19:56 Matthew Feeney: Something that just occurred to me, and one of the points that I want to explore a little, is that how much of the alienation is also a product of other recent innovations. So, social media it seems to me is an amazing ecosystem, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, even YouTube, I’d argue to a certain extent. But what’s really interesting about all those platforms is that they tend to be places where your peers will publish good news. If you want… So, the graduations, the job promotion, the birth of a new child, getting married. It’s not actually a reflection of real life in any sense. And if you feel like you’re one of these alienated people, those platforms, I imagine, could be quite depressing, in the sense that, “Well, everyone I went to high school with went to decent colleges and they’re getting jobs. And my sister’s got married.” All these, the constant barrage of all the good news that Facebook, in particular, gives you… And what’s interesting is, I think, not that I’m an expert in these forums at all, but 8chan and 4chan don’t seem to be competing with that. It’s a totally different kind of content that people are posting and trying to consume.

21:04 Matthew Feeney: And it’s a real problem, I think, for people of our political persuasion, given the great recession and the impact that had on many people in this country as well. If the cost of serious economic depression is that a lot of these people feel totally left out of the economic recovery, is the sort of stuff that we’ve seen just part of the cost? That we’re gonna have a generation of young, pissed off men? That’s a rather gloomy outlook.

21:34 Will Duffield: Also, when you look at how figures like either Tyrant or Elliot Rogers, the incel Santa Monica attacker you mentioned, how they are turned into memes and essentially deified within their respective communities, and similarities in how their manifestos have been shared since their death and inspire others. Just as the Texas shooter mentioned Tyrant in his manifesto, you saw a incel attacker in Toronto…

22:16 Matthew Feeney: Canada.

22:17 Will Duffield: Yes. Reference Elliot Roger as he carried out his attack. So, I think in terms of that, how information is shared, how these memes spread, you see a lot of similarities there.

22:37 Paul Matzko: Across all these movements, across our Attomwaffen, neo-nazis, incels, white nationalists, whatever the particular ideological covering… Covering might not be the right word, but whatever radical ideology these young, often, men adopt, it’s led to things that harm others. These shootings are now just a recurrent event. At this point we expect some certain base level of mass shootings every year from online radicalized shooters. This has led to lots of calls for someone to do something and the willingness to imagine everything from more corporate moderation of their websites to outright government censorship. So, let’s dig into that a little bit here at the end. I think, Matthew, you mentioned that Trump recently called for some kind of information sharing between government agencies and social media platforms?

23:39 Matthew Feeney: Trump is keen for the Department of Justice to work with social media sites to build tools or to take steps that would help identify these mass shooters before they commit their atrocities. There are a number of issues with this. One is, Facebook, in particular, is under intense pressure to not conduct surveillance on its users, having been on the receiving end of a multi-billion dollar FTC slap, which involved them taking certain commitments falling on privacy protection. And indeed, Facebook isn’t alone when it comes to anti-surveillance, at least public sentiment. Twitter as well doesn’t exactly… Well, it tries to make sure that its users’ data isn’t used for surveillance, but more and more worryingly… I should of course add that the FBI does not need Facebook’s permission to engage in surveillance of Facebook users, although cooperation would make that easier.

24:39 Matthew Feeney: But more to the point is a difficult, frustrating social challenge for all of us, I think, is that these young men who commit these atrocities don’t fit into a very predictive mold, and what kind of mold you can try and frame, it applies to millions of people in this country. This country is full of young, pissed off men, millions of them. They use social media and these websites and they post horrible things that could be interpreted as jokes, they post photos of their firearms, they make racist comments. This is… And the worry with the kind of corporation that I see with the administration urging there to be a law enforcement and private sector cooperation on this is that the private sector will feel under pressure to cooperate and to at least offer the FBI or DOJ something. And we should just expect massive false positives if this happens. So, it’ll be thousands of teenagers and young men reported by friends or their parents to law enforcement. And I worry that that won’t…

[music]

25:51 Will Duffield: I think as well, when we look to other models of combating online radicalization, when we look to what has been done with regard to the threat of ISIS and concerns about young men consuming ISIS propaganda on social media platforms and then going to join or support the group, we see tremendous false positive rates. And we’re not just talking about young men swept up by the FBI who looked like they fit a profile, but other sorts of content: People trying to record atrocities, keep records of atrocities in Syria, other researchers simply documenting the conflict, the sorts of propaganda used by these groups, and those discussing theology in Arab language forums more generally. Now, because these are American tech firms, this was a Western-led effort to counter radicalization, and most of the people that these firms listen to, their constituencies, either in Washington or prominent users are not Arab language users, then we were willing to tolerate a really high false-positive rate in terms of the removal of other completely innocuous Arab language content, which if applied to this kind of thing, rude memes in the United States, it really would be more broadly unacceptable. Looking at what we’ve done with ISIS, means maybe we should tone down that effort in terms of speech suppression, not that we ought to apply that model more widely.

27:38 Matthew Feeney: I saw recently… I didn’t read into it, but certainly something that came across my social media radar was push back against Pete Buttigieg who recently talked about, “Well, maybe we should have a countering violent extremism model for white nationalists or white supremacists.” And our colleague, Patrick Eddington, has written before about what a disaster that approach had for Muslim Americans. It’s a double-pronged risk. One is the massive false positives and inefficiency, but the second is, as we alluded to earlier, the martyrdom of people who feel empowered because they are now the target of this. I just think it’s a mess.

28:16 Paul Matzko: And there’s kind of an emerging bipartisan consensus around the issue, ‘cause Pete Buttigieg, but also David French just called the National Review for, “Hey, we should use all these tools, these wonderful, delightful surveillance and tools we’ve developed for countering Islamic radicalism to white supremacy, to these communities,” so it’s… Which is worrisome ‘cause you can see the Overton window shifting on both left and right, the openness to this kind of surveillance. Something else that came to mind was… It feels like we’ve learned nothing from the whole FOSTA SESTA sex trafficking imbroglio. So, when the government… When Congress punctured a hole in Section 230 protections, which we’ve talked about Section 230 in a previous episode. Well, they wanted to go after sex traffickers, but they had a false positive issue in a sense, but what ended up happening was a lot of these online personal ads forums just shut down entirely. Most people affected were not actual sex traffickers, it was prostitutes.

29:22 Paul Matzko: They weren’t trying to go after prostitutes, but they ended up doing was pushing a lot of prostitutes out into the street, making their lives more dangerous. But then, also, it’s made it harder for law enforcement to do their job, harder for them to track actual sex traffickers. And there’s been… Like [29:37] ____ done a lot of reporting on this. So the same thing could apply here. If you do somehow manage to shut down these fora for young, white Ethno-nationalists, there’s no guarantee… You could actually stymie your efforts to track what’s going on, to watch for manifestos. You can predict someone who might be likely to actually commit a shooting, etcetera.

30:00 Matthew Feeney: Well, It gets a little beyond that though, because what it means to shut down one of these things is not so clear-cut. The FBI is a powerful institution, but it can’t shut down any website it wants to. And it’s not that difficult to figure out a situation in which a lot of these fora just move around to corners of the Internet that the FBI can certainly reach but can’t shut down. And that’s a jurisdictional issue, but as well as a technological one. I think it will just become totally infeasible for the FBI to really prompt the purge of all of this content.

30:38 Will Duffield: I think in terms of what productive steps can be taken, especially on the private side, we can look back to the original model of this kind of disgruntled attacker going to Ancient Greece and Herostratus, a fellow who burned down the Temple of Artemis to become famous, to draw attention to himself. He couldn’t succeed otherwise and he took it out on his community. And they passed a law… I’m not suggesting a law here, but a practice. “Damnatio memoriae” prohibiting any discussion of him, the using of his name. And obviously, that failed because I’m invoking him now. But more broadly, when we look at these folks trying to go out in a blaze of glory, trying to put their name in the headlines, we don’t need to put their name up there, we don’t need to contribute to a sense of accomplishment that their vile community may provide for them or attempt to read into this. The more we build these people up as dangerous, feared actors, rather than, say, the attempted shooter in Oslo the other day who got cold-clocked by some 70-year-old man and was dragged into court with two black eyes, the more these folks can be portrayed as foolish and kind of incompetent, blundering, purposeless, rather than the dangerous vanguard of the neo-nazi world order, the fewer young men will see value and meaning in following them.

32:28 Paul Matzko: So two points here. One, I mean there’s is this large body of social science literature which links the rise of mass shootings in general, not just online Nazis, the rise of mass shootings, in general, not to the rise of the internet, but to the rise of 24/7 cable news coverage. The attention they get and there’s a one-upmanship to get the biggest body count. That’s why here we’ve generally avoided saying the names, it’s just the El Paso shooter and [32:55] ____ and the other one you mentioned. But in general, I think media sites are becoming more savvy to that, not always using their name, not emphasizing the body counts, etcetera. So, one point I think that’s well put, but to the other point, if it’s a framing these are sexually frustrated, alienated, confused young men, it’s a lot more pitiful-seeming than heroic crusader for some vague notion of Western civilization like Anders Breivik wanted to be framed as. Or, I’m thinking here of the… I don’t know if you saw the British movie, I think it was called Four Lions.

33:33 Will Duffield: Yeah, mm-hmm, an excellent film.

33:35 Paul Matzko: An excellent film, but the whole point of the film is to make that same point. You think “Four Lions”, brave, bold, lions. But the whole point of the movie is showing how bumbling and idiotic, and even the leader of the group, how just confused they are, the regrets they have. That’s the impression we should take away from it. So, I don’t think the answer is not to discuss the fact that this online radicalization is happening, not that it shouldn’t ever be mentioned, we should talk about it, but realize what we’re actually describing here. This is a… These are people who should be pitied. There should be efforts… There are a number of organizations that are, I think, admirable for former radicals, both from left and right, that reach out to former white supremacists, trying to say, “Hey, look, I used to be one of you, here’s my gang tattoo, my swastika, but this is a dead-end. You can make better choices than I did when I was your age.” Or vice… There’s similar outreach groups for radical Muslims, especially in Britain. That’s, I think, the approach we should take as a society.

34:40 Paul Matzko: Well, thank you guys for coming in having that conversation. It’s important that we talk about online radicalization. It’s something that Libertarians have, I think, insight into how these communities are formed, but then also an important cautionary tale for what shouldn’t be done in response to them. And for our listeners, until next week, be well.

35:02 Paul Matzko: Thanks for listening, Building Tomorrow is produced by Tess Terrible. If you enjoy Building Tomorrow, please subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. If you’d like to learn more about Libertarianism, find this on the web at www.libertarianism.org.