FIRST AT TPM: Slack Deletes Hate Group Accounts After Leaks Of Private Chats

Slack, the internal corporate messaging and file-sharing company, is known for its cheery rainbow logo and uplifting loading messages like, “You look nice today” and “Each day will be better than the last. This one especially.”

Favored by media, tech and design companies, the work hub has recently become the unlikely organizing platform for one of the country’s best-known racist hate groups.

Slack messages leaked this week by non-profit media collective Unicorn Riot show members of Identity Evropa organizing meet-ups and plans to distribute fliers promoting their “white racial consciousness” organization in cities across the U.S. Both the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center describe Identity Evropa as a white supremacist organization that uses careful language to cloak its true motivation.

In response to TPM’s Wednesday request for comment on Identity Evropa’s activity on their platform, Slack announced that it had just that day removed 28 accounts affiliated with “known hate groups.”

“Slack is designed to help businesses communicate better and more collaboratively so people can do their best work,” a Slack spokesperson said in a statement. “Using Slack to encourage or incite hatred and violence against groups or individuals because of who they are is antithetical to our values and the very purpose of Slack. When we are made aware of an organization using Slack for illegal, harmful, or other prohibited purposes, we will investigate and take appropriate action. Today we removed 28 accounts because of their clear affiliation with known hate groups.”

A version of that statement was subsequently posted to Slack’s website. The spokesperson declined to confirm that the deactivated accounts were linked to Identity Evropa specifically, but added that Slack has “taken similar actions previously” with other accounts flagged for their association with racist organizations.

Slack is, of course, not the only platform struggling to root out white nationalist users. As larger companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have slowly cracked down on these groups’ efforts to use social media to recruit members and coordinate activities, the groups have shifted over to new platforms. One of their largest hubs has become Discord, the voice and text chat platform for gamers.

But Unicorn Riot’s leaks of tens of thousands of private Discord chats from Identity Evropa and the organizers of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia have scared white nationalists away. Discord is no longer viewed as a safe place to share racist memes and comments about murdering Jews with impunity.

Just this week, as TPM reported, the campaign field director for Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) was discovered to have sent shockingly anti-Semitic and racist comments on a Discord server associated with Nick Fuentes, a close Identity Evropa ally.

In the newly leaked Slack messages, Identity Evropa members explicitly announced that they’ll no longer use Discord after the platform banned their accounts en masse in response to the leaks. Instead, they said, they would use Slack to coordinate their “activism.”

“Obviously, we won’t be coming back to Discord due to the widespread bans,” a user named Matt wrote in one recent announcement.

Other users had previously said that they were “nervous” about using Discord and “prefer not to rejoin” the platform.

While the leaked Discord chats are a cesspool of white nationalist vitriol, the Slack chats appear more utilitarian. The servers are divided into regional subgroups (“IE North Atlantic” breaks down into “upstate-ny,” “philly-metro-area,” and so on) and into chats about specific events, like their annual “Leading Our People Forward” conference.

Identity Evropa members used Slack to plan trips to dine at local German restaurants, visit the NRA museum and a gun range in Fairfax, Virginia, and, improbably, to go see a trio of performances of George Balanchine’s choreography at the New York City Ballet.

They also coordinate “flyering” trips to distribute posters and stickers with their website on college campuses and in city centers. The goal, they say, is to distribute their material to “receptive” white people directly “rather than have them Google us and hope that they find the right stuff and not the SPLC website.” In 2018 alone, according to a recent ADL report, Identity Evropa was responsible for some 191 incidents of distributing white supremacist propaganda on college and university campuses.

The damaging trove of their Discord messages went public on March 6, and the Slack messages went up on March 8. That night, Identity Evropa leader Patrick Casey released a statement announcing that the group “is no more.” Casey said he wanted to start a new organization free of the “baggage” Identity Evropa had accumulated. (That baggage includes founder Nathan Damigo’s armed robbery arrest for assaulting a cab driver for “looking Iraqi” and Casey’s predecessor’s Eli Mosely’s promotion of the “Nazification of America”).

In its place, Casey was creating the American Identity Movement, a new organization that he claimed “has been in the works for close to six months.” The group had its public coming-out party this past weekend; some 50 white, predominantly male American Identity Movement members gathered at the Tennessee state Capitol to wave American flags, carry signs reading “This land is our land” and protest “demographic change.”

Casey has insisted that the group is not a “rebrand” of Identity Evropa despite the continuity in leadership, membership, tactics like flyering, and, at least until Wednesday, Slack channels, as Unicorn Riot pointed out.

Asked for comment, Casey said the two groups “are separate non-profit corporations.”

“We’re in the process of setting up new communications channels,” Casey said in a Wednesday Twitter DM.

Asked if the decision to create American Identity Movement had anything to do with their leaked communications, Casey said, “No. The idea that we could come up with a new name, logo, merchandise, flags, banners, etc. in 48 hours is silly.”

Though Identity Evropa may technically be defunct, Casey conceded that the organization remains a defendant in a federal civil lawsuit brought on behalf of 11 defendants injured at the Charlottesville rally. Casey said that legal fees for their attorney, Jim Kolenich, were drawn from “organizational funds,” suggesting that American Identity Movement members will still be footing the bill for IE’s activities.

The leaked Slack and Discord messages will trail the new group, too, exposing their tactics and organizational structures even as they attempt to whitewash their dark history under a new name.

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