I can understand some of the Waypoint crew’s skepticism of details about the story, but on the whole, I think I buy it. The sudden shift from alt-right back to normal after an encounter with a counter protestor seems a little iffy, but like Danielle mentioned, kids at that age have pretty malleable identities. This doesn’t address many of their concerns, but the Washingtonian supposedly did a follow up with the parent/author of the story (I say “supposedly” considering the whole thing is written by an anonymous person, so hard to prove) and asked her a couple questions. One interesting note is that supposedly “Sam” of the story may be putting out his own essay on the experience?
Reading this story the other day sent me down a rabbit hole of articles about how much the alt-right is using the internet as a recruitment tool, especially for young people. I’ll just give a blanket content warning for the links below, considering a lot of this stuff is talking about the alt-right (so expect CW for discussions about misogyny, racism, homophobia, sexual assualt, etc.).
To no one’s surprise, Youtube has an issue with people peddling conspiracy theories and alt-right views. Something interesting that the mom brought up in the story about Sam, and that Jason Koebler also brought up, is just how much alt-righters try to target individuals with depression and anxiety, especially on Youtube which this piece gets into.
Something that did surprise me though is the fact that apparently, some of these popular alt-righter Youtubers are quite young, like this…14 year old girl who apparently has been making videos since she was 9? This piece also gets into some of the discussion of YouTube’s seeming unwillingness to do anything to deplatform people like this (even after the girl made a death threat to YouTube’s CEO in one of her videos???).
Similarly, Instagram seems to a be a breeding ground for this stuff as well, and considering it also has a huge audience of younger people, it’s pretty scary how quickly the algorithm starts recommending problematic accounts to follow, like this piece from The Atlantic addresses.