White-supremacist messages on Call of Duty, Fortnite; hate-crime charges in Club Q shooting


The week in extremism, from USA TODAY

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New details and reporting have emerged about the motives behind the deadly shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ-friendly venue in Colorado Springs, the perpetrator of which was officially charged with hate crimes this week. Meanwhile, a study claims that exposure to white supremacist ideologies via online gaming doubled this year. And America’s most notorious neo-Nazi troll returns triumphantly to Twitter.

It’s the week in extremism.

Club Q shooting no surprise to experts: Club Q attack no surprise for extremism experts who saw looming threat, decades-old pattern

Twitter bans LGBTQ gun group: Days after deadly shooting at LGBTQ club, Twitter bans group that protects LGBTQ events

Club Q shooting charges

The man accused of shooting up Club Q, an LGBTQ friendly bar in Colorado Springs was officially charged this week with 305 counts ranging from murder in the first degree to bias-motivated crimes.

The latest:: Club Q shooter threatened grandparents if they foiled plans for mass killing plot

  • As I examined in this story last month, the attack, in which 5 people died and 17 were injured was shocking, but not surprising, to extremism experts, who have been waiting for an incident like this to happen, given the recent focus on the LGBTQ community from far-right extremist groups.
  • The defendant’s attorneys announced in court documents that the defendant identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, which led to confusion and speculation as to the motive for the attack.
  • NBC reported this week that the FBI has questioned the suspect’s neighbors about two websites, one reportedly created by the shooter, that contained racist and antisemitic posts. The other website is the infamous hate site 8kun, formerly 8Chan, a haven for far-right extremist activity.

Report: Online gaming a hotbed for white supremacy

One in five adults reported being exposed to white supremacist ideologies in online gaming in 2022, a number that has doubled since last year, according to an annual poll by the Anti-Defamation League. 

The background: Today’s online multiplayer games allow people from around the world to network and communicate with each other. Extremists of all stripes, from white supremacists to misogynists, have sought to exploit the lax oversight of these online spaces, where billions of people are active.  

  • ADL also found that 15 percent of young people aged 10 to17 reported being exposed to discussions of white supremacist ideologies in online games. 
  • “White supremacists and extremists are pushing their ideas into the mainstream across society, including online games,” the League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We know that what starts online doesn’t always end online — It can have deadly consequences in our communities.”
  • According to the study, the games where young and adult players most often encounter extremist white-supremacist ideologies are Call of Duty, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto, PUBG: Battlegrounds, Valorant and World of Warcraft.

Hate speech on Twitter: Will free speech mean more hate speech on Twitter under Elon Musk?

Proud Boys on Twitter: Twitter banned the Proud Boys, but they’re still there. Under Elon Musk, there could be more

Neo-Nazi returns to Twitter

The publisher of a notorious neo-Nazi website returned to Twitter last week, in the latest sign that the service now owned by billionaire Elon musk is increasingly tolerant of hate speech.

The man posted new tweets late last week from an account that had been dormant for years. His account was still active on the site on Thursday, amassing more than 9,000 followers. Musk did not respond to numerous tweets requesting comment.

  • Tweets by the neo-Nazi publisher openly promote a web site which features a constant stream of racism, antisemitism and other hate speech.
  • The man behind the account, Andrew Anglin, was first kicked off Twitter almost a decade ago. According to his posts on Gab, another far-right social media site, he discovered last week that a Twitter account he had previously used was operational, and began tweeting on it.  
  • It’s unclear whether the account he’s currently using had ever been truly suspended by Twitter. He has since tweeted hundreds of times.

The bigger picture: Individuals and groups previously banned from Twitter have also returned recently – sometimes accompanied by proclamations from Musk himself – but some of the country’s most notorious white nationalists and racists have still not reappeared. Late last week, the rapper Kanye West was suspended from the platform for posting an image that contained a swastika. 

Twitter also banned the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, a group that guards LGBTQ events from far-right extremists who may threaten them.

Last week in extremism: What it was like to watch Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes be convicted