If you’ve ever wondered how someone becomes radicalized on the internet, finds themselves immersed in a counterfactual narrative so compelling they are driven to violent acts against innocent strangers based on an arbitrary identity like race or religion, as Dylan Roof claims happened to him, here’s a good case study.
The Facebook group @MexicansWakeUp publishes propaganda designed to make Mexican Americans fear white Americans. The group is part of a network of disinformation groups, including @ImmortalTecunUman and @TheOneAndOnlyPower, which also includes some legitimate political groups, and which has ties to hacktivist collective Anonymous.
If, hypothetically, a friend shared a post from one of these groups, something humorous or political with no hint of race-war propaganda, and you liked their post, you would start to see more content from that group, and because the network of disinformation groups have so much overlapping content and shared audience, you’d start seeing content from the other disinformation groups as well.
Sinister stories about a centuries-old global conspiracy of European-American pedophiles would creep into your newsfeed, sometimes from groups with the same name. Another group, also called Mexicans Wake Up, hosted at the address @MexicansWakeUp1, appears to have only legitimate political content about Mexican nationalism, without the conspiracy theories and calls to action found on @MexicansWakeUp, but it’s pretty easy to see how one feeds the other.
Obviously, the idea is to identify and target people because of their Mexican pride, gradually steering those most susceptible to propaganda toward an increasingly hateful and violent ideology. Radicalizing a few impressionable youths won’t do anything to advance justice, but it sure will make Americans distrustful of each other, and if it results in a terror attack, it will provide an opportunity for an unpopular adminstration to pursue it’s unpopular agenda.
The video of the Mexican pride event in Russia is cool, though.