I ran across this article from Cosmo (of all things). It focuses on the work of a particular investigator, who infiltrates online hate groups to take down the men who are most likely to follow through on their hateful rhetoric. One interesting, and sad, take home is how many of these men are vicious misogynists, even some who ultimately target other groups. Another is how these online groups have proliferated in recent years.

I don't envy this woman her job, even though she has indeed exposed a number of would-be killers before they strike. I don't think it's possible to poke around in the darkest cesspits of the internet without amassing a certain amount of personal trauma.

Anyway, this article is an interesting read. I suppose it contributes a bit to hope, since there are indeed agents out there trying, with some success, to stop these killings before they happen. What's depressing is the sheer volume of human refuse they have to sift through.


...K is currently keeping close tabs on more than 1,000 men. She calls them her List. They’re right here on a spreadsheet, pages and pages of faces, light eyes and jelly-pocket cheeks, dark eyes and deeply sunken dimples, old skin and new.

One guy lives less than a mile from her. “I know their screen names, their real names, their fake names, when they change their names,” she says. Private accounts, alias accounts, multiple accounts—she knows. I can’t reveal her exact methods, but let’s just say anyone who is vocal online about his hate for women has likely chatted her up about his motorcycle or his family. In that way, these men are vulnerable, because they have to put themselves out there. The internet is their bullhorn, the best way they have to reach their disciples.

When she first started doing this, she did it in person. Once, a man caught her taking pictures at a gathering of white supremacists. She played it off, but her nerves were fried. Another time, she was jotting down some notes when a well-known extremist sat down right next to her. She remembers her heart beating so hard she could feel it in her fingertips. She slowly closed her notebook, terrified. What did he see?

Others in her field have been doxed, making them vulnerable to violence. One of her friends, who works in a similar job, told me she had to move after extremists firebombed a car in front of her house and ran her kids off the road. K does sometimes worry about the safety of her family. “Given the opportunity,” she says, “I’m sure they would come after me.”

So yeah, working from a computer has made her life easier. It’s also made it impossibly hard. When your territory is the internet, there’s a lot to sift through. Some words mean nothing; others mean people are about to die. And it isn’t always easy to find the words in the first place—the ones that belong to the person who will do the thing....