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After the Capitol Insurrection, Telegram Moved to Ban White Nationalists. Today, It’s a Different Story.

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Mother Jones illustration; Getty

For a moment last month, it looked like Telegram was finally doing something about its neo-Nazi problem. The secure messaging app, whose largely untraceable platform has laudably provided a safe haven of communication for people in autocratic countries even under government pressure, has also proven popular among racists who have been kicked off other platforms. Telegram largely did nothing about those users until last month, when, shortly after the January 6 riot at the Capitol, the company finally started taking down white supremacist and neo-Nazi channels, the app’s term for public-facing chat groups which, similar to Twitter, allow creators to send messages to anyone who signs up.

But within weeks, Telegram appears to have lost its sudden interest in banning white supremacists, according to researchers monitoring the platform. “A lot of the banned groups just immediately reformed and gained back huge numbers of their followers,” says Emmi Bevensee, a Mozilla Open Web Fellow and PhD student at the University of Arizona who tracks extremism online. “The terrorgram channels particularly are extremely agile,” Bevensee said, referring to the loose network of Telegram channels where pro-Nazi, anti-semitic memes using glitchwave........

© Mother Jones

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