A Guide to Tracking the Alt-Right
Part I: Discovery
Some weeks ago, up at our northern border, a militia of Canadian truckers formed a blockade on the interstate in response to the Prime Minister’s declaration that international travel must require passports. This drew international attention, and as well as being disappointed in the cause, I was filled with hope. I looked to these alt-right militia men, I saw their faces, I listened to their words, I witnessed their actions. They cared, and they did something about it. What they cared about, in this case, was easily dismissable by someone like me, but I think it is deeply important to figure out how they did this.
Much of the conversation between the alt-right takes place on the Telegram app. This seems trite, but it is deeply important. It seems as if the left fails to notice how much they are watched. The right notices this, and they have strategies to address this. When I first became involved in activism, a recent visit by a not-so-friendly officer to my house reminded me of the need for privacy. Telegram provides this privacy by encrypting the information shared on both ends. Information sent between two parties can have different levels of security depending on its intent: For the more general messages, one can send a standard text. No work done here. For a message that would be problematic if it reached the wrong individual, one can enable the text to “disappear” after a certain amount of time, one can disable the ability to screenshot, etc. There are a lot more tools at the concerned parties’ disposal, but lucky for me, I know all these tools and I know how to not be noticed. “Blending in” with an Alt-Right crowd is actually incredibly difficult. I have tried it before. These are very smart people. They pick up on everything, and are not scared to publicly debase you before making your exile a spectacle. Therefore, the trick is to not be on their radar at all, while still maintaining your presence. This can be done through comments on smaller, less political posts, asking for community feedback.
Now, the guide may begin.
You now know that the majority of planning and discussion of alt-right events, meetings, and protests takes place on Telegram, so you go to a local forum and search. You comb through hundreds and hundreds of posts, and can only find a couple of invitations to these channels, but they seem to be non-controversial, industry-specific general discussion boards about a non-partisan issue. This is intentional. The Alt-Right, much like Shrek, works in layers. Every step from one layer to the next is not difficult. For example, all you had to do to get to the second layer was scroll through a forum for a while. But to get to the core, you must peel through each individually. There is no knife, unfortunately, and as much as I would like to put an invitation link to the juicy bit here, a mass publication of Alt-Right means of communication would be risking them moving to another platform, another strategy. So, you invade the second layer. On the channel, every once in a while, you will likely notice a trend where a link (not necessarily to another channel) is posted by some random, and then disappears an hour later. First, these channels are not designed to be a step in the layer. They are likely built by somebody who honestly could not give two shits about what the alt-right does next, so “recruiters” send these links and delete them before moderation can review. This is why, when you scroll through the channel at the beginning, it seems fairly a-political. Second, the link is disguised as someone just submitting something for discussion, but within these links are the further layers, masquerading as just another conversation point. This is the key to breaking through further layers. The further down you get using this process, the more and more you will notice the attitude that this is the final place of truth. But there is always another. There is always another, “larger” truth that explains more and more, holds more and more “activist” discussion, etc.
I was able to make my way to the original source of discussion for the Canadian trucker protest. I am not interested in going further, as I worry that would just damage my mental stability and incite paranoia. If you pursue this process, I would advise a regular step-back. Take a look at the information you have acquired. Do you really need more? If so, would that be damaging to your mental health? If so, is it worth it? Is this project really, actually, for the purpose of achieving something? And is that something worth it? My purpose was to construct a guide for tracking the alt-right, and to that end, I believe this has been achieved. As what follows will not be an investigation, but analysis, I do not need to travel further. Do you?
If you follow the above, being sure to prioritize your mental health, your journey will be fruitful. Not only will you be aware of protests before the government is, you will know if the protest will affect you, how to prepare, etc.
Please be thoughtful in your research. In the Telegram app, you can see local groups. Sometimes, a group is promoted outside of your area. Join all general political groups you can find. Another option is to search through the Telegram public channel list. This is not a categorized list, and it will take a while to find anything, but it is a good first step. Every once in a while (as in 1-2 times a month), you may see an interesting link spread. Be sure to take a screenshot before you move on with your day, as it is likely to be deleted rather quickly. As a note, this channel might significantly change over the course of the coming months. This guide, and the pieces that follow, may lose relevance and the Alt-Right strategy continually evolves (for that is how she eludes detection). If that is to be the case, I come to you with my deepest apologies. If you would like to publicly shame me for the lack of relevance, I’ll buy you a coffee. My bad. For further questions, email me. Thank you.