The telegram had really hit a nerve. The place that had been such a safe haven for the far right was unobtrusively hostile. Nevertheless, some of the community’s distress signals sounded very much like their preparation for Christchurch when they were increasingly removed on platforms like Discord:
“We will see a potential cleanup of the telegram content. This warning goes out to everyone out there who has channels. Please forward these messages, make backups and we need to see what happens. “
These messages contained an implicit admission of how dependent they were on telegram. When neo-Nazis and white supremacists left their scattered Chan boards and other platforms for Telegram, it was like leaving a rickety old car behind for them USS Voyager. Telegram had everything: encryption security, the ability to archive large collections of content, versatile channel and chat group functions, and more. Everything they ever needed was now on a platform where they could centralize and strengthen (and do) just like Al Qaeda and ISIS did.
Where does the right side go from here?
Given the timing of Telegram̵
As far as Parler is concerned, the freedom of speech that has been promoted in the past weeks by high-profile representatives of the Trump campaign and allies, neo-Nazi extremists are skeptical. “Parler is Kikeshit,” as it was written, suggested that those from the far right be “marked, persecuted, identified, and financially depressed.”
However, others in the community saw it as a potential place for careful contacts. Nick Griffin, the former leader of the fascist British National Party, said on his channel: “Notice to all my ultra hardline followers. Don’t let my populist postings on Parler worry or confuse you. I don’t get soft. “
Nevertheless, Griffins is a minority opinion among right-wing extremists, who in the worst case see Parler almost unanimously as a honey pot and urge caution to get involved with it.
As Telegram begins a much more serious approach to deleting right-wing extremist accounts, the far-right group is already adjusting as Telegram is still the best option despite the new challenges. As a neo-Nazi channel wrote:
“There’s nowhere else to run, comrades. ACT SOON AND PREPARE THAT ALL OF US ARE REMOVED LIKE TERRORWAVE HAS … WE WILL TRY TO RETURN BUT THINGS WILL NOT BE THE SAME. “
Administrators for these groups and channels have already started creating new backups. Some right-wing extremists have even sought support from their relatively “moderate” colleagues and used the crisis to gather more support. When posting links to backups of recently deleted right-wing extremist channels, a user partially implored the following:
“… Our enemies make no difference between a siege poster and a nationalist. Between moderate and radical … You have to fight with all those who have chosen life like you … Because they are today. And tomorrow it is you. “
These developments from the far right are a repetition of how things have developed for ISIS. After the Paris attacks in 2015 intensified outrage at Telegram’s role in housing ISIS, the company began to crack down on the group, forcing them to use private channels, expire invitation links, and take other measures To take operational security. ISIS was in a constant chess game with Telegram and integrated messaging bots, channel-style chat groups and other manipulated functions towards an increasingly complex infrastructure. Although the group tried to set up other platforms, all roads always led back to Telegram.