anti-government website shut down after supporting U.S. demonstrations
The company hosting its cloud servers shut down an anti-government website that supported armed demonstrations in the United States ahead of the presidential inauguration Wednesday morning after CBC News announced that those servers were based in Montreal.
Tree of Liberty, the website, claimed to be the Boogaloo movement's press outlet, whose adherents are militant pro-gun supporters who support the notion of a second American Civil War, which they call the boogaloo.
A litany of violent crimes, including murder, attempted murder and opening fire on police officers, have been charged with a long list of Boogaloo fans.
Over the summer, Facebook tried to ban the campaign, saying it advocated "violence against civilians, law enforcement, and government officials and institutions." It took down several thousand accounts and blocked search terms relevant to Boogaloo.
The Montreal servers of OVH, a global cloud computing corporation based in France, have been hosting Tree of Liberty since September.
OVH said it was investigating the site on Tuesday. The company released a follow-up statement after CBC News disclosed the position of the servers, alleging the site had been suspended and "the contract with the client terminated."
The initial URL of Tree of Liberty is not functioning anymore.
Tree of Liberty indicated to its users that while the website was still live, they might evade law enforcement surveillance since the website is located outside the U.S.
In one recent comment, a user said that because of his political views and because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was tracking his online activities, he was possibly classified as a "potential terrorist threat"
"hosted outside of the DHS's data jurisdiction,"hosted outside the data jurisdiction of the DHS,"This is a safe place."This is a safe place.
An anonymous website moderator wrote in an email to CBC News that "rental of the server was simply more cost effective in Canada." There was no response to subsequent emails to the moderator.
The FBI warns of armed inauguration demonstrations
Boogalooers are among several organizations preparing to organize protests ahead of the opening ceremony on Jan. 20, when Donald Trump will formally take over the presidency from Joe Biden.
There are widespread fears in the U.S. about the possibility of more violence by groups who oppose the outcome of the Nov. 3 election following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump extremists that took place while lawmakers were inside voting to certify Biden's victory.
The FBI has warned local law enforcement to prepare for armed demonstrations that could be attended by far-right extremists, according to multiple media outlets.
On the Tree of Liberty website, a moderator's account urged supporters to carry guns to demonstrations scheduled to take place in all 50 state capitals on Sunday.
"This will be a chance for Americans young and old to physically demonstrate to the world the massive amount of armed citizens in this country," read one post supporting the protests.
One individual wrote in the comments section that peaceful protest was not appropriate and that executions were required to fix problems in the U.S.
In the United States, technology firms have once again purged their websites of content linked to extremist groups following the siege in Washington, D.C., during which five people died.
Notably, Amazon banned Parler from using its cloud-based web-hosting service, a social media site popular with Trump supporters and far-right extremists.
'They will attract a broad spectrum of extremists'
In the fall, after Facebook and other social networking sites attempted to rid their pages of Boogaloo-related content, the Tree of Liberty website came online.
In the U.S., analysts who track hate groups suggested that the site was an attempt to stabilize the online presence of the Boogaloo movement while simultaneously attempting to soften its profile and provide new followers with a portal.
It seems to be trying to professionalize the communications of the movement,"It seems to be trying to professionalize the movement's communications,"
As Boogalooers prefer non-hierarchical and more individualistic ways of organizing, Squire said it is unclear how representative the website was.
It is difficult to politically describe the Boogaloo phenomenon. The word "boogaloo," taken from the 1984 film Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, typically refers to civil war within the online realm of the radical right.
As a way to speed up a race war, some white nationalists associate with the campaign. Yet some Boogalers made headlines for joining Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the summer.
Boogalooers distanced themselves from Trump supporters on the Tree of Liberty website, although many maintain that the election was rigged and the riot was perpetrated by left-wing activists in Washington.
"Because they are so ideologically fluid, they are able to attract a wider range of extremists," said Alex Friedfeld, a researcher for hate groups with the New York-based Anti-Defamation League.
He said that it is not proposals but the threat of aggression that appeals to its followers.
"Any company that is hosting this type of content should absolutely take a hard look at what they are allowing to spread,"Any company that hosts this type of content should absolutely take a hard look at what they allow to spread.