Social Media Users Identify Capitol Rioters
Photo by Alex Gakos via Shutterstock
Five days ago, the Capitol building was in chaos as a mob rushed through the doors and rioters filled the Senate chamber. Lawlessness ensued and many rioters walked away without so much as a scratch, let alone an arrest. Now, private investigators and social media users alike are scouring pictures and online posts from that day to identify them.
John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at Citizen Lab within the University of Toronto, is utilizing crowdsourcing to find clues and give tips to law enforcement. Crowdsourcing is a method of enlisting the help of a large group of people, typically online and could be paid or unpaid.
“This kind of crowdsourcing is not the same thing as a formal investigation. It’s certainly not a replacement for the investigations done by the judicial system,” Scott-Railton said. But, he added, “it’s an excellent mechanism for surfacing clues.”
Scott-Railton took to Twitter highlighting photos of rioters who were “moving with purpose”, particularly people with handcuffs and body armor.
Scott-Railton’s crowdsourcing efforts identified a masked man in body armor, holding handcuffs and a can of tear gas.
Although unidentifiable from the pictures inside the Capitol building, some Twitter users found a photograph of the man from earlier in the day when his mask was down. They traced him to a social media account owned by Eric Munchel from Tennessee.
Scott-Railton praised the Twitter sleuths after Munchel was eventually arrested. His team also gave tips regarding the arrest of retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Brock from Texas.
RIOTERS ARE FIRED
Other rioters identified themselves online. Chicago real estate agent Libby Andrews posted pictures of herself on Facebook, among the throng of people at the Capitol. She said, “After storming the capitol a good glass of champagne is needed!”
Her employer, @Properties, said they received a “tremendous amount of outreach” and that “effective immediately @properties is terminating this agent.”
@Properties is not the only company facing backlash from an employee “storming the capitol.” Goosehead Insurance, Saint Vincent College and Navistar also fired employees this week for the same reason.