According to the outlet, supporters had already expressed willingness to use violence against lawmakers, police, and journalists if Congress did not overturn the election results.
“Extremists have for weeks repeatedly expressed their intentions to attend the 6 January protests, and unabashedly voiced their desire for chaos and violence online,” Jared Holt, a visiting fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab, told the website.
“What we’ve witnessed is the manifestation of that violent online rhetoric into real-life danger.”
On Wednesday, it became quickly apparent that the Capitol police force, which consists of around 2,000 officers according to The New York Times, were outnumbered and unprepared for violent action.
It took more than two hours before control of the building was regained, as rioters looted and destroyed Capitol property, with the DC National Guard not deployed until the perimeter was breached.
According to Buzzfeed, a call for protesters to “storm the Capitol” in the case that Congress “ignores the evidence” received more than 500 upvotes on niche right-wing website TheDonald four days ago.
Advance Democracy, an independent, non-partisan research organisation, reportedly said signs of imminent violence were emitting from all corners of the Internet in the days leading up to the riot.
“On TheDonald, more than 50 per cent of the top posts on 4 January, 2021, about the 6 January Electoral College certification featured unmoderated calls for violence in the top five responses,” the organisation reportedly found.
According to the organisation, over 20,000 QAnon-related accounts on Twitter mentioned 6 January in their posts but didn’t explicitly call for violence.
On Parler, a site with a significant right-wing user base, users reportedly discussed Mr Trump’s Washington DC rally at which the president riled up supporters with continued baseless claims of election fraud.
“Just imagine if ALL the Patriots who are gathered in DC right now were to Rush the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Halls of Congress and take them over,” one user wrote on Wednesday according to Bloomberg.
A Facebook group called Red State Secession amassed nearly 8,000 followers and called for a “Second American Revolution” on 6 January, BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac said.
“Their pages link to a website, asking followers to send in home & office addresses + travel routes of perceived ‘political enemies,’” the journalist wrote.
“We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens you see the way, others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home and peace.”
Following the video, Twitter locked Donald Trump’s account for 12 hours and upon its release said it will ban him from the platform if he breaks its rules again. Facebook blocked his ability to post on the platform for the next 24 hours.
“We’ve assessed two policy violations against President Trump’s Page, which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time,” a spokesperson told The New York Times.
Some have accused social media of allowing the incitement for deciding not to enforce earlier sanctions on the president’s content and failing to quell misinformation from their platforms.
Venture capitalist Chris Sacca tweeted: “For four years you’ve rationalised this terror. Inciting violent treason is not a free speech exercise. If you work at those companies, it’s on you too. Shut it down.”
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie called the riots “an inevitable manifestation of the conspiracy, vitriol and hate fed to people daily on Facebook”.
In a statement on Wednesday, Twitter said: “In regard to the ongoing situation in Washington, DC, we are working proactively to protect the health of the public conversation occurring on the service and will take action on any content that violates the Twitter Rules.”
Facebook said it has updated its label on posts across our platforms that attempt to delegitimise the election results to read: “Joe Biden has been elected President with results that were certified by all 50 states.”
“The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the peaceful transfer of power after an election.”
The platform wrote in a statement on Wednesday: “In recent days and weeks, we have also taken enforcement action consistent with our policy banning militarised social movements like the Oathkeepers and the violence-inducing conspiracy theory QAnon.
“We’ve also continued to enforce our ban on hate groups including the Proud Boys and many others. We’ve already removed over 600 militarised social movements from our platform.”
Washington DC police said four people died during the shocking riot in the city, including a woman who was shot inside the Capitol. At least one improvised explosive device was said to have been found.