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Extremists move to secret online channels to plan for Inauguration Day in D.C.

Right-wing extremists are using encrypted channels to call for violence against government officials on Jan. 20, the day President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, with some extremists sharing knowledge of how to make, conceal and use homemade guns and bombs.

The messages are being posted in Telegram chatrooms where white supremacist content has been freely shared for months, but chatter on these channels has increased since extremists have been forced off other platforms in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

In the days since the Capitol attack, for example, a U.S. Army field manual and exhortations to “shoot politicians” and “encourage armed struggle” have been posted in a Telegram channel that uses “fascist” in its name.

Chris Sampson, chief of research at the defense research institute Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies, said his group is focused on and concerned about users of the channel and has alerted the FBI about it. (TAPSTRI is run by Malcolm Nance, an NBC News terrorism analyst.)

Does ‘deplatforming’ work? Trump’s most extreme fans will find him, research says

President Donald Trump’s rabid online following will be smaller from now on, but it may be more extreme. 

That’s the takeaway from researchers who study “deplatforming,” the name for the sweeping form of digital banishment that Trump received from Twitter and much of the tech industry after a mob of his supporters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, leading to the deaths of five people, including a police officer. 

Trump joins a growing list of high-profile personalities — mostly on the far right — who have been banned from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter or YouTube after repeatedly breaking the sites’ rules. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is banned from most of them, as is far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos. 

The past examples have given researchers a window into whether such moves are effective. But as a soon-to-be-former president, Trump presents a unique case that may shatter expectations. There’s anecdotal evidence that banished figures receive less web traffic and attention than they did before being banned, and research says that followers who regroup on other social media networks after a ban do so in smaller numbers.

53m ago / 4:05 PM UTC

GOP rep. booted from Harvard Institute of Politics advisory committee

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., has been removed from the Harvard Institute of Politics’ senior advisory committee because of her role in endorsing false claims of election fraud, according to the university. 

Stefanik, a vocal ally of President Donald Trump, was asked by Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf to resign from the committee, but “she declined to step aside, and I told her that I would therefore remove her from the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee at this time,” he wrote.

Elmendorf said Stefanik made public statements endorsing baseless election fraud conspiracy theories that “do not reflect policy disagreements but bear on the foundations of the electoral process through which this country’s leaders are chosen.” He noted that the lawmaker, a Harvard alum, has been involved with the nonpartisan institute, which was founded to encourage Harvard students to pursue careers in politics, for “a long period, beginning with her role as a student leader (she was in the class of 2006) and continuing to her mentoring students and strengthening the IOP’s programming in many ways.” 

Before the Capitol riot, Stefanik endorsed Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, and she proceeded to vote to disqualify electors from the state of Pennsylvania after the pro-Trump mob’s violent attack.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Stefanik said it is a “badge of honor to join the long line of leaders who have been boycotted, protested, and canceled by colleges and universities across America.”