How Networked Incitement Fueled the Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrection
The shocking events of Jan. 6, 2021, signaled a major break from the nonviolent rallies that categorized most major protests over the past few decades.
What set Jan. 6 apart was the president of the United States using his cellphone to direct an attack on the Capitol, and those who stormed the Capitol being wired and ready for insurrection.
My co-authors and I, a media and disinformation scholar, call this networked incitement: influential figures inciting large-scale political violence via social media. Networked incitement involves insurgents communicating across multiple platforms to command and coordinate mobilized social movements in the moment of action.
The reason there was not more bloodshed on Jan. 6 emerged through investigation into the Oath Keepers, a vigilante organization composed mostly of former military and police. During their trials for seditious conspiracy, members of the Oath Keepers testified about weapons caches in hotels and vans, stashed near Washington, D.C. As one member described it, “I had not seen that many weapons in one location since I was in…