Incel forum pushes rape, mass murder

The most important forum for men who unwittingly consider themselves celibate or “incels” has become significantly more radicalized in the past year and a half and is seeking to normalize child rape, a new report says.

The report, from the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s new Quant Lab, is the culmination of a survey that analyzed more than 1 million posts on the site. It found a marked spike in conversations about mass murder and the growing approval of sexual assaults on prepubescent girls.

The report also states that platforms including YouTube and Google, as well as internet infrastructure companies like Cloudflare are facilitating the growth of the forum, which is visited by 2.6 million people every month according to the report. “These companies should make a principled decision to withdraw their services from sites that cause such significant damage,” the report said.

“This is a new, new violent extremist movement born in the Internet age, which challenges the usual characteristics of violent extremist movements that law enforcement and the intelligence community are usually accustomed to,” said Imran Ahmed, founder and CEO of CCDH, a British non-profit. “Our study shows that it is organized, has a compelling ideology and has clearly concluded that raping women, killing women and raping children is a clear part of their ideology practice.”

The Incels blame women for their failures in life. The term originated decades ago and while the first incel forum was founded by a woman in the mid-1990s, incel communities have become almost exclusively male. Incel’s ideology has been linked to dozens of murders and assaults over the past decade, the most notable involving Elliot Rodger, a self-described 22-year-old incel who killed six people in a rampage of stabbings and shootings in Santa Barbara. in California. , in 2014. Before committing suicide, he posted a long manifesto and YouTube videos promoting the incel ideology.

In March, the US Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center released a report warning that violence against women was a growing terrorist threat.

According to the CCDH analysis, forum members post rape articles every 29 minutes and over 89% of posters support rape and say it is acceptable. The CCDH analysis also found that the posters on the forum seek to normalize child rape. More than a quarter of forum members posted pedophilia keywords, the analysis found, and more than half of forum members support pedophilia.

The forum also changed its rules this year to accommodate what appears to be a trend toward normalizing rape of younger victims, according to the report. The forum previously pleaded with users not to “sexualize minors in any way, shape or form”, but in March changed that language to “not sexualize prepubescent minors in any way, shape or form”.

The report also cited content that reflected the pedophilia trend, noting that most commentators expressed support for a post that said, “Like incel, there is literally no reason to be against pedophilia.” Another thread opened by a regular user who had posted more than 7,000 times on the forum contained a picture of a 12 year old with the comment “that sane would prefer a 22 year old. [woman] to this?”

“Analysis of their speech shows that this core group poses a clear and present danger to women, other young men and reveals an emerging threat to our children,” the report said.

The CCDH said its analysis also found a growing interest in mass killings on the site. Posts mentioning incel mass killings increased 59% between 2021 and 2022, the study says, and praise was common for Elliot Rodger. The word “kill” was mentioned 1,181 times on the forum in just one month, or once every 37 minutes. “Shoot” and “murder” are also popular words on the forum.

“We have no doubt after conducting this study that this community of angry, belligerent and unrepentant men is dangerous to each other, with malicious social dynamics that encourage each other to increasingly worse extremes,” the report said. . “Uncontrolled incel communities have the potential to further radicalize.”

The CCDH said it is making its comprehensive forum database available to law enforcement and has informed counter-terrorism officials in the US and UK about the report’s findings.

The forum was founded in 2017 by Diego Joaquín Galante, known online as “Sergeant Incel” and Lamarcus Small in response to the Reddit ban on the / r / incels subreddit. It offers an invitation-only Discord server for its members who have posted more than 400 times on the site and an active channel on the Telegram chat app. The forum moderators also maintain a Twitter account that promotes incel ideology and attacks perceived critics.

Only self-reported straight men can post on the forum; women and members of the LGBTQ community are forbidden to intervene.

The report says the forum has gained a mass audience largely through social media, most notably YouTube, where videos promoting the incel ideology are said to have been viewed a total of 24.2 million times. “YouTube is a key part of incel education,” Ahmed said.

Forum members, the report said, often share content from misogynistic YouTube channels and channels such as Incel TV, which promotes incel ideology. Another popular YouTube channel mentioned in the forum, the report states, is SlutHate Creeps, where users post images of women secretly recorded.

But YouTube isn’t the only foray, the analysis found. Galante and Small have created a seemingly more traditional network of websites that funnel people to the incel forum. Google searches for body image or unemployment often return links to these “inelosphere” sites, the CCDH found.

Teenage boys are among the most active and extreme users of the forum, according to the CCDH. In one case, a boy who claimed to be 17 was logged on the forum for an average of 10 hours a day during the reporting period, posting an average of 40 times a day, the report said. Another, who claimed to be 15, spent an average of five hours a day on the site, repeatedly posting his desire to commit a mass shooting.

The forum allows for their participation, says the analysis, encouraging users to hide the site from prying parents or teachers using a feature that masks it as a banana marketing site.

The report criticizes Cloudflare, an Internet services company that provides services to the forum and other Galante and Small sites. Cloudflare recently launched Kiwi Farms, a forum where users coordinated harassment campaigns against women and members of the LGBTQ community, after a protest it launched against its traditional customers. “Cloudflare is benefiting from its role as an infrastructure provider for all four incelosphere forums and has been praised by the official incel forum Twitter account,” the report said.

The CCDH has also urged government regulators to find ways to combat incel ideology and restrict the site. “This should not be left to the goodwill of Big Tech, who profit from the creation and dissemination of this content and are not adequately incentivized or required to be proactively transparent about key metrics or invest in desired security outcomes,” the report He says.

“This forum is a violent ideological manifesto, but for the 21st century,” Ahmed said. “Instead of being a book, it is essentially a wiki that is continually being evolved by the readers themselves. Left alone, this community has been further radicalized and their ideology is becoming more dangerous every day ”.

This story will be updated with comments as it becomes available.