Incel forum pushes rape, mass murder

The most prominent forum for men who consider themselves involuntarily celibate, or “incels,” has radicalized significantly over the past year and a half in attempts to normalize child rape, a new report says.

The report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s new Quant Lab is the result of research that analyzed more than 1 million posts on the site. There has been a marked increase in talk of mass murder and growing support for the sexual assault of preadolescent girls.

The report also says that platforms like 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 each month, according to the report. “These companies should make a principled decision to withdraw their services from websites that cause such significant harm,” the report said.

“This is a novel new violent extremist movement, born in the internet age, defying the usual characteristics of violent extremist movements that law enforcement and intelligence agencies are normally accustomed to,” said Imran Ahmed, founder and CEO of CCDH, a British non-profit. “Our study shows that she is organized, has a compelling ideology, and has come to the unequivocal conclusion that raping women, killing women, and raping children is a clear part of practicing her ideology.”

Incels blame women for their mistakes 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 since become almost exclusively male. The Incel ideology has been linked to dozens of murders and assaults over the past decade, the most prominent of which involved Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old self-proclaimed Incel who killed six people in a knife-and-shooting rampage in Santa Barbara, California , murdered. , in 2014. Before killing himself, he published a lengthy manifesto and YouTube videos promoting incel ideology.

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

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

According to the report, the forum also changed its rules that year to reflect the apparent trend towards the normalization of rape among younger victims. The forum previously implored users not to “sexualize minors in any way, shape, or form,” but changed that language to “not sexualize prepubescent minors in any way, shape, or form” in March.

The report also cited content reflecting the trend toward pedophilia, noting that the majority of commenters supported a post that read, “As an incel, there is literally no reason to be against pedophilia.” Another thread, hosted by started by a normal user who had posted more than 7,000 times on the forum contained a picture of a 12-year-old child with the comment “who in his right mind would prefer a 22-year-old [woman] to?”

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

CCDH said its analysis also found a rising interest in mass murder on the site. Posts mentioning mass killings increased 59 percent between 2021 and 2022, the study found, and praise for Elliot Rodger was widespread. The word “kill” was mentioned 1,181 times on the forum in just one month, which is once every 37 minutes. “Shooting” and “murder” are also popular words on the forum.

“After conducting this study, we have no doubt that this community of angry, belligerent, and uncompromising men is dangerous to one another, with a vicious social dynamic in which they encourage one another to ever worse extremes,” the report reads. “Left unchecked, incel communities have the potential to become further radicalized.”

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The CCDH said it is making its full database of the forum available to law enforcement and has briefed counter-terrorism officials in the US and UK on 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 Reddit banning the /r/incels subreddit. It offers an invite-only Discord server for its members who have posted more than 400 times on the site and an active channel on the chat app Telegram. Forum moderators also maintain a Twitter account promoting the incel ideology and attacking perceived critics.

Only self-proclaimed straight men are allowed to post on the forum; Women and members of the LGBTQ community are not allowed to be weighed in.

According to the report, the forum has gained a mass audience primarily through social media, with a particular highlight being YouTube, where videos promoting the incel ideology have been viewed a total of 24.2 million times. “YouTube is an important part of incel education,” said Ahmed.

Forum members, the report found, often share content from misogynistic YouTube channels and channels like Incel TV that promote Incel ideology. Another popular YouTube channel mentioned in the forum, the report says, is SlutHate Creeps, where users post secretly taken pictures of women.

But YouTube isn’t the only idea, according to the analysis. Galante and Small have created a network of seemingly more mainstream websites directing people to the incel forum. Google searches for body image or unemployment often return links to these “Incelosphere” 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 said he was 17 spent an average of 10 hours a day on the forum and posted an average of 40 times a day during the reporting period, the report said. Another, who claimed to be 15, spent an average of five hours a day on the site, repeatedly posting about his desire to carry out a mass shooting.

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

The report criticizes Cloudflare, an internet services company that provides services for the forum and other Galante and Small websites. Cloudflare recently shut down Kiwi Farms, a forum where users coordinated harassment campaigns against women and members of the LGBTQ community, after launching a protest against its mainstream customers. “Cloudflare benefits from its role as infrastructure provider for all four Incelosphere Forums and has been praised by the official Incel Forum Twitter account,” the report reads.

The CCDH urged state regulators to also find ways to combat incel ideology and restrict the site. “This should not be left to the goodwill of Big Tech, who benefit from the creation and distribution of this content and lack adequate incentive or obligation to be proactively transparent about key metrics or to invest in desired security outcomes.” it says in the report.

“This forum is a violent ideological manifesto, but for the 21st century,” said Ahmed. “Instead of being a book, it is essentially a wiki that is constantly being developed by the readers themselves. Left alone, this community has continued to radicalize and its ideology is becoming more dangerous by the day.”

This story will be updated with comments as they become available.

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