Ben Collins Profile picture
Senior reporter, dystopia beat, @NBCNews.
Bill Jackson III 🖥 🦅🌊🗽 🇺🇸 Profile picture eDo Profile picture Liz Profile picture BlackeyedSusan28 Is Fully Vaccinated Profile picture American Hacker Profile picture 27 added to My Authors
15 Sep
Quick thread:

Here's the deal about this much hyped Saturday's "Justice for January 6" rally.

Users on the extremist forums that hyped the rally-turned-riot on January 6 are not so hot on this one.

They're telling each other not to go, fearing it's a honeypot from the feds.
In the days before January 6th, sites like TheDonald and 4chan were littered with pictures of people boarding planes, posting pictures of guns, their hotel rooms, even maps of the tunnels beneath the Capitol.

They're calling 9/18 an "FBI rally." You mostly see posts like this:
Pro-Trump extremist boards have basically conspiracy theory'd themselves into inactivity.

Everything is "glowing," their word for a setup. Everything's a "false flag" or "honeypot."

They realize now their own rhetoric has put them in a bit of a bind.
Read 9 tweets
13 Sep
Can't stress how wild the ivermectin Facebook groups have become. So many people insisting to each other to never go to an ER, in part because they might not get ivermectin, but sometimes because they fear nurses are killing them on purpose "for the insurance money."
The ivermectin Facebook groups are becoming fully anti-western medicine spaces, replete with the concept that ERs are killing you, maybe intentionally.

It's just a constant stream of DIY vitamin therapies and new, seemingly random antiviral drugs every day — but not the vaccine.
The ivermectin Facebook groups also offer a window into how pervasive antivaxx COVID "treatment" videos are on TikTok.

The groups serve as a de facto aggregator for antivaxx TikTok, a space that is enormous but inherently unquantifiable to researchers.
Read 5 tweets
27 Aug
Over the last 48 hours, Reddit users have rebelled against the site's executives, who reiterated they wouldn't step in on COVID disinformation.

They're now flooding the Ivermectin subreddit with scientific information.

And, also, anti-horse paste memes. Here are the best.
Image
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Read 6 tweets
26 Aug
A quick thread:


A lot of people have asked me this week: Where did this ivermectin obsession come from? Who could possibly benefit from it?

Most importantly, why did my antivaxx aunt start eating horse goo from the tractor store?

It’s complicated, but here are some answers.
First off, they really are eating horse dewormer. It tastes terrible. Some mix it into jam to eat it on toast.

Others have asked about... more drastic actions. After all, they think ivermectin horse gel will their life, and their doctor won’t prescribe it.

How did we get here?
Let's flash back to last year.

Remember those pro-Trump doctors who had an extremely viral video that said hydroxychloroquine “cured” COVID-19?

Then-President Trump retweeted it. It had millions of views before it was pulled from Facebook.

That was America’s Frontline Doctors.
Read 17 tweets
26 Aug
New + exclusive with @BrandyZadrozny:

Antivaxx Facebook groups have become obsessed with a telemedicine app that prescribes ivermectin online.

Turns out the site is American Frontline Doctors, the pro-Trump group whose founder stormed the Capitol on 1/6.
nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
You'll probably remember America's Frontline Doctors from their viral stunt retweeted by Trump last year, claiming hydroxychloroquine "cured" COVID.

Well, now they're now the go-to telemedicine providers for ivermectin-seekers in Facebook groups.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news… Image
Here's part of an intake form for a doctor on SpeakWithAnMD, the site partnering with America's Frontline Doctors that antivaxxers swear by to get ivermectin.

"Which medication do you prefer?" it asks.

The options:
Ivermectin
Hydroxychloroquine
Not Sure

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news… Image
Read 4 tweets
20 Aug
Quick thread:

The suspect in today’s standoff rattled off a bunch of conspiracies on Facebook Live on his way to DC. Election fraud, Trump reinstatement, weird stuff about coins.

One, though, seemed personal.

Afghan refugees would get free healthcare, he said, and he doesn't.
Ray Roseberry, the suspect in the DC standoff, said he went to get stem cell treatment this week, but couldn’t. His insurance didn’t cover it.

He said his wife had cancer that needed surgery. Her insurance didn’t cover it.

Then he blamed refugees and immigrants.
On his way to the standoff, Roseberry complained about letting in immigrants from Mexico and Afghanistan. He said that there wasn’t free healthcare “for us,” but falsely claimed the undocumented would get what he couldn’t for free.
Read 6 tweets
22 Jul
Quick thread: I don't think most people know what antivaxx posts on Facebook really look like.

That's good. Why would you?

But I think people assume it's Suzy Turmeric plaintively yelling at you about the microchip, and it’s not.

It looks like this. Like code. Or gibberish. Image
Antivaxxers are calling themselves something, anything else on Facebook.

Once they change their group name, the adapt their whole vocabulary to fit it.

Here’s a list of codewords for the group of people who don’t “go dancing” — or won’t get the vaxx.

Pizza. Beer. Moana. Image
Antivaxx codewords have two purposes:

Most importantly, they stay on Facebook. They’re still a community.

But it also offers a sense of belonging, a secret code, a sense of mischief. People feel like they’re getting away with something, part of an ingroup. Image
Read 10 tweets
21 Jul
New + exclusive from me + @BrandyZadrozny:

Anti-vaxx Groups on Facebook Are Changing Into “Dance Parties” on Facebook to Avoid Detection

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
Antivaxx groups with tens of thousands of followers are changing into “dance parties” or “dinner parties” on Facebook.

They have code legends at the top of the page. “Pizza” can mean Pfizer; “Moana” for Moderna.

Here’s what they look like.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
One 40k-member antivaxx group is also bragging about getting around Facebook’s moderation bots by just swapping out language and calling it a “Dance Party” after the White House press conference last week.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
Read 4 tweets
7 Jul
New from me: QAnon’s New ‘Plan’? Run for School Board

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
QAnon forums are imploring followers to run for school board or local office, pinning a Mike Flynn quote to “get involved in the education of our children” to the top of their page.

But they’re also reminding followers: don’t mention QAnon when you do it.
nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
QAnon conspiracy theories are crashing those now megaviral school board meetings: Masks are cover for child traffickers, Hollywood pedophiles are “carrying away our children.”

Some explicit Q followers are running for, and winning, school board seats.

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
Read 5 tweets
15 Jun
I want to tell a quick story about Tucker Carlson, a small town in Maine, and a panic over “critical race theory” stoked with the help of Fox News and viral conservative websites.
Last year, Maine’s 51st school district put out a letter denouncing white supremacy after George Floyd's death.

One parent, Shawn McBreairty, took issue, saying it “essentially labeled all the community members from [his town] ‘white supremacists.’”

As you can see, it doesn’t.
Because of the letter, McBreairty quickly became convinced his daughters’ school was teaching Critical Race Theory.

He filed a Freedom of Information Act request and discovered the town had spent $12k for diversity training for its staff.
Read 16 tweets
8 May
Just want to make this clear: do you believe the vaccine is a tracking device designed by Bill Gates?
.@EmeraldRobinson just checking in.
..........
Read 4 tweets
29 Apr
NEW and exclusive from me + @kevincollier:

As forgeries spread, CDC tells states to pull vaccination card templates from web

nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
Anti-vaxx, pro-Trump, and QAnon forums dug up vaccine card templates from the back ends of state websites, giving extremely detailed instructions on how to forge them.

The CDC told states last night to pull them down, citing misuse, NBC News has learned.
nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
The forged vaccine card instructions on sites like 4chan, TheDonald, and Q forums are super detailed, like thickness of the cardstock, printer resolution, even estimated vial numbers.

It could mess with verifying who's actually been vaccinated.
nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
Read 4 tweets
2 Apr
Whoops.
Update from Scott: Scott is claiming Scott is AI-generated, and therefore Scott is not Scott and Jorg is not Jorg. There is no Scott or Jorg, just a robot posing as Scott, and another robot who stole robot Scott's identity to pose as Jorg.
BTW, when he says "AI generated," he means his face, not his words. Scott/Jorg's face was pretty clearly made using thispersondoesnotexist.com.

This is how the Martin Aspen fake identity was created. Extremely easy thing to do.

nbcnews.com/tech/security/…
Read 4 tweets
6 Mar
I regret to inform you the following books have been canceled. Please purchase many copies before they are removed from Walden Books for being too good.

It is imperative you buy these books to get back at the dangerous hall monitors and censors who personally murdered Dr. Seuss.
Here's a beautiful book by my friend @TessaJeanMiller, about living a normal life in a body that doesn't want that.

It was canceled for being too well written. The censorship police must have taken it away, as it was not available at the JFK Hudson News.
amazon.com/What-Doesnt-Ki…
I also recommend you pick up @katieengelhart's deeply researched and heartrending book on the right to die before the liberal gestapo raise the prices at Barnes & Noble, effectively canceling it.

amazon.com/Inevitable-Dis…
Read 4 tweets
3 Mar
A lot of people are asking me about QAnon and extremist-related threats tomorrow.

Nobody knows what will happen, but here's what we do know: There is considerably less public organization and open threats on the Capitol than there was in the run-up to 1/6. It's not comparable.
This is the kind of thing that was at the top of pro-Trump forums on 1/5. They were openly advocating for Civil War. QAnon people were talking about a hostile takeover because they thought they were the first step of a military coup that'd eventually be abetted by the military.
QAnon people, especially ones who were just in it to watch the season finale of their little story, do not want to be mixed up with something they now know could lead to direct violence.

So they're claiming talk of an attack on 3/4 is a false flag. They're pushing the date back.
Read 6 tweets
4 Feb
A quick story about bloodlust, QAnon and Facebook:

There's a picture going Facebook right now that refers to the 10 Days of Darkness.

Some Q people believe Trump is still in power and has been secretly executing the Deep State for the last 10 days in front of the White House. Image
The viral QAnon picture shows the new security fencing around the White House, then places a real picture of gallows that kinda-sorta look like the same infrastructure.

I'm not going to zoom in on the gallows, because that's a real hanging. Image
The QAnon people used a photo from a Kuwaiti execution in 2013.

They stole these images to claim this is the Deep State being hanged by Donald Trump's secret government in front of the White House, which has QAnon people ecstatic.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2…
Read 5 tweets
25 Jan
So @BrandyZadrozny and I got a peek under the hood of Twitter's new crowdsourced fact-checking forum. Some quick takeaways:

1 - They're trying to recapture the magic of Wikipedia, where a community emerged and protected the integrity of the site.
nbcnews.com/tech/social-me…
Twitter says their trials were promising, but it was a much smaller portion of people than the open internet, cordoned off from passerby trolls.

A slow rollout could help build a community and norms, and cut off bad actors. Not a guarantee, but it's possible.
The big thing I'm worried about with Birdwatch? Brigading.

Say one extremist forum REALLY hates one true tweet by a specific user. They all sign up en masse and drown out good info.

As this rolls out to more people, I didn't see defense against that.
nbcnews.com/tech/social-me…
Read 4 tweets
25 Jan
NEW from me + @brandyzadrozny:

Twitter is launching a crowd-sourced fact-checking feature called Birdwatch.

It's their new effort to fight disinformation on the platform, and it feels a lot like Reddit and Wikipedia.
nbcnews.com/tech/social-me…
Birdwatch will, at first, be a separate place where users can discuss tweets that might contain disinfo on the platform.

The results will be cordoned off from Twitter to start, but that may change down the line.

nbcnews.com/tech/social-me…
Pretty much anybody can apply to be part of the trial for Twitter's new Birdwatch community, which they hope to roll out to more users if it works.

It won't just be fact-checkers and high-profile accounts, but you need to use a real email address.
nbcnews.com/tech/social-me…
Read 5 tweets
19 Jan
NEW from me:

Increasingly militant 'Parler refugees' and anxious QAnon adherents prep for doomsday

nbcnews.com/tech/internet/…
QAnon followers largely believe tomorrow will be The Storm, or the mass execution of Democrats as Donald Trump becomes permanent president. They're buying ham radios and warning loved ones.

It's tearing families apart. I talked to one of them.

nbcnews.com/tech/internet/…
Since the Capitol insurrection and Parler shutdown, white supremacists on Telegram have been sharing guides on how to radicalize "normie" Trump supporters.

Extremists call them "Parler refugees," and they're being redpilled in record time.

nbcnews.com/tech/internet/…
Read 4 tweets
17 Jan
Over the last few years, I kept in touch with some QAnon supporters through DMs, checking in on them to see if they'd ever come out of it when their next doomsday came and went.

They'd typically first message me calling me a Satanic pedophile. I'd ignore it and ask questions.
Usually they would draw hard lines. A big one was D5, which everyone thought would be mass arrests on December 5th two years ago. Didn't happen, didn't matter.

It's about belief, anticipation, an advent calendar. One day soon, their problems would be fixed.
I would check in the week after the failed doomsdays. They'd point to a Q post like scripture, and say some ridiculous event proved it was still happening. An earthquake somewhere, a service interruption on GMail.

I learned something: these people don't want to be humiliated.
Read 7 tweets
13 Jan
People keep attempting to otherize QAnon adherents as inherently dumb, low class, and automatically mentally ill.

Radicalization can affect anyone, especially those longing for identity or answers in a difficult time.
We are at one of the hardest parts of this journey as a country: the future will demand empathy for the mildly radicalized, some of whom may sound crazed or vicious.

But it’s necessary. We’re going to have to be kind, and strong, to bring our friends and family back to reality.
A lot of people appropriately dunking on me for this tweet.

I'm talking about people who send you flat earth videos and viral rumors about upcoming "blackouts."

You cannot give an inch to white supremacy in any form, they will take a mile.
Read 5 tweets