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Capitol riots have led online platforms to crack down on livestreams ahead of the inauguration

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Facebook plans to block “the creation of any new Facebook events” near the White House, the US Capitol and any state capitol buildings through Inauguration Day.

“We’re monitoring for signals of violence or other threats both in Washington, DC and across all 50 states,” the company said in a statement. “In the lead up to Inauguration Day, we have implemented a series of additional measures to continue preventing attempts to use our services for violence.”

YouTube says it has removed multiple videos shot during the assault on the Capitol that appeared to incite violence or show Capitol rioters carrying firearms. The company told CNN it will continue to remove livestreams and other content that violate its guidelines on hate, harassment and election integrity.

And DLive, a streaming service popular with gamers, announced after the Capitol attack it had suspended seven of its users for incitement of violence and illegal activities on January 6.

DLive has since announced additional measures and said it’s blocking all livestreams from the Washington, DC, area on Inauguration Day.

Some fear the Capitol livestreams could inspire further violence

Security experts fear extremists like the ones who invaded the Capitol may be motivated by widely shared images portraying that siege as a success.

The Capitol livestreams provided a platform to spread hate while encouraging those who film them to pander to their followers, said Pete Eliadis, a former law enforcement official and founder of Intelligence Consulting Partners.

Eliadis believes the streamers’ revealing their vantage point inside the Capitol also has broader national security ramifications.

Protesters storming the US Capitol building on January 6.

“It’s being watched by state actors all over the world. … If I’m a bad actor, I know the layout of the Capitol … I can see the defenses, the police response and I can counter that now,” he told CNN. “That’s a huge challenge on a larger scale platform.”

Mob mentality and instant gratification also play a big role,he said.

“Individuals are filming this, they’re blasting it to their followers, their followers are picking it up and it’s bringing immediate feedback and instantaneous reward,” he said. “You’re seeing the impact of your filming, you’re getting that adrenaline rush, you’re almost pandering to your audience. “

That gives the “influencers” more incentive to frame the story through their own lenses, which leads to a dangerous form of power that “enhances the ideology and the movement,” Eliadis said.

Extremists can earn money from livestreams

Some streaming services offer opportunities for their users to make money.

For example, DLive allows users to buy “lemons,” a form of digital currency, using a credit card or cryptocurrency. Each lemon is worth $0.012, and users can donate lemons to a streamer, which can be converted into real money.

On DLive, users can host talk shows, stream their gaming sessions or stream other events in real time — and earn money doing it.

Three women tape signs thanking US Capitol Police officers in a tunnel toward the House of Representatives in the wake of the January 6 attack.

Some commenters watching on DLive called the Capitol assault a “second revolution” and awarded lemons to a handful of users who were streaming from in or around the building.

DLive later intervened, freezing those accounts and saying that lemons donated to those users would be returned to donors.

All streaming platforms have their own influencers who equate fame with money. To stand out, some users engage in a degree of acting — almost like they’re starring in their own movies — to earn revenue, said Cindy Otis, vice president of analysis at Alethea Group, which tracks disinformation and social media manipulation.

And most users will flock to platforms where they can monetize their content, Otis said. For extremists, that can mean smaller, fringe platforms which have less restrictive policies on content and advertise themselves as homes for “uncensored” speech, she said.

Some extremists have moved to more permissive corners of the internet

As platforms crack down on hate speech and incendiary content, extremist ideologies are finding new homes, says Megan Squire, a professor at Elon University in North Carolina and an expert on online extremism.

After the attack on the Capitol, some alternative livestream channels saw growth of up to 200% within hours, Squire told CNN.

Armed National Guard troops are helping to secure government buildings and maintaining a perimeter around the US  Capitol.

“When they are removed from mainstream platforms, extremists and other bad actors will sometimes gravitate to lesser-known platforms in order to continue whatever behaviors got them banned in the first place,” Squire said. “Typically these behaviors include violent rhetoric, hate speech, trolling and harassment, and so on.”

For political extremists, one appeal of fringe or less tightly run platforms can be lax content oversight.

“There is always a risk that any platform that does not have good content moderation standards and strategies will be used by bad actors,” Squire said. “There are smaller platforms that do a great job of content moderation, and there are large platforms that do a terrible job. It’s less about the size than it is about how committed the platform is to enforcing its own standards of behavior.”

Even on smaller platforms such as DLive, extremists make up only a fraction of users.

DLive says the vast majority of its users focus on gaming, with less than 10% talking about current events or politics. And Squire said some DLive gamers are using the platform’s community chats to applaud the suspension of the Capitol rioters and express their frustration at being associated with White supremacists.



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Prosecutors accuse Maryland couple of hiding additional classified naval secrets

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The revelation came during a detention hearing for Diana Toebbe, who is charged, along with her husband Jonathan, in an elaborate scheme to sell nuclear submarine details.

As part of its case to keep the couple in jail, prosecutors disclosed that the FBI has not been able to access all of the couple’s encrypted email accounts, and still has not located all of the classified naval secrets it believes the couple possessed.

Special assistant US Attorney Jessica Smolar said 50 of the 51 packets of restricted data the couple held cannot be found, warning the information could cause extreme damage to the Navy if the information got out.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe appeared separately, each wearing orange jail uniforms, masks, and shackles. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, but an FBI special agent revealed new details about the couples’ alleged scheme during a lengthy hearing for his wife. The judge has not yet ruled if Diana Toebbe will be released.

Several photographs and videos were presented in court that the special agent said showed the couple arriving at numerous so-called dead-drop locations throughout the summer of 2021 where they appeared to act as tourists before depositing SD cards filled with classified naval submarine secrets.

They showed “typical tradecraft of espionage subjects,” the special agent testified, describing how FBI surveillance captured the couple parking their BMW Mini Cooper one-and-a-half miles from the initial dead-drop location and then carefully making their way to the previously agreed-upon drop-off spot.

“Diana was right behind him within a meter away,” the agent testified. “Basically keeping a look-out to make sure no one was coming up on them during that operation.”

After Jonathan deposited the SD card, “Diana provided a very distinctive head nod as if they needed to get out of the area, and I observed that,” the agent said.

The couple is accused of acting together to coordinate three separate drop-offs of SD cards containing classified information about nuclear submarines, specifically the Virginia-class submarine. The FBI agent disclosed the depths to which the couple attempted to hide the SD cards at the dead-drop locations, saying one SD card was tucked into a saran-wrapped peanut butter sandwich, while others were hidden inside a packet of gum and a sealed Band-Aid wrapper.

During an anticipated fourth dead-drop on October 9 in West Virginia, the couple was arrested by the FBI.

At the court hearing Wednesday, the testifying special agent said Jonathan Toebbe was getting increasingly concerned about his family’s safety. During the third dead-drop on August 28, Jonathan Toebbe arrived alone while his wife stayed home recovering from ankle surgery.

“Jonathan was extremely nervous,” the agent testified. “More nervous than we’d seen him on the previous ones and just very cautious about what was going on around him….because Diana was not there to act as a lookout.”

Jonathan Toebbe allegedly left a letter with the SD card during that dead-drop which said in part, “I have considered the possible need to leave on short notice. Should that ever become necessary, I will be forever grateful for your help extracting me and my family…. We have passports and cash set aside for this purpose.”

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted the couple, charging them each with one count of Conspiracy to Communicate Restricted Data and two counts of Communication of Restricted Data. The couple pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

If convicted on any of the three counts, the couple faces up to life in prison.

The couple was arrested October 9, and the initial criminal complaint described how the Toebbes tried to sell sensitive information about nuclear submarines to a foreign country in exchange for millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The country, which has not been identified in court filings, notified the FBI, which launched a year-long sting operation. The testifying special agent noted that the FBI moved quickly after discovering the couple was trying to sell these secrets in December 2020 because they were concerned the couple might try to shop the information to multiple countries.

After their arrest, the FBI searched their home in Annapolis, Maryland, where they discovered $11,300 in cash — all one hundred-dollar bills wrapped in rubber-bands; a crypto wallet; passports for their two children; and a go-bag containing a laptop computer, a USB drive and latex gloves.

Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that the couple had requested expedited passport renewals since theirs had expired in February 2021; the request was still being processed at the time of the couple’s arrest.

The Justice Department had previously moved to keep the couple in jail, citing their potential flight risk and the severity of their alleged crimes. The Toebbes appeared Wednesday with their court-appointed lawyers. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble said he will issue a written decision as to whether Diana Toebbe will be released pending trial.



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Prosecutors accuse Maryland couple of hiding additional classified naval secrets

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The revelation came during a detention hearing for Diana Toebbe, who is charged, along with her husband Jonathan, in an elaborate scheme to sell nuclear submarine details.

As part of its case to keep the couple in jail, prosecutors disclosed that the FBI has not been able to access all of the couple’s encrypted email accounts, and still has not located all of the classified naval secrets it believes the couple possessed.

Special assistant US Attorney Jessica Smolar said 50 of the 51 packets of restricted data the couple held cannot be found, warning the information could cause extreme damage to the Navy if the information got out.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe appeared separately, each wearing orange jail uniforms, masks, and shackles. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, but an FBI special agent revealed new details about the couples’ alleged scheme during a lengthy hearing for his wife. The judge has not yet ruled if Diana Toebbe will be released.

Several photographs and videos were presented in court that the special agent said showed the couple arriving at numerous so-called dead-drop locations throughout the summer of 2021 where they appeared to act as tourists before depositing SD cards filled with classified naval submarine secrets.

They showed “typical tradecraft of espionage subjects,” the special agent testified, describing how FBI surveillance captured the couple parking their BMW Mini Cooper one-and-a-half miles from the initial dead-drop location and then carefully making their way to the previously agreed-upon drop-off spot.

“Diana was right behind him within a meter away,” the agent testified. “Basically keeping a look-out to make sure no one was coming up on them during that operation.”

After Jonathan deposited the SD card, “Diana provided a very distinctive head nod as if they needed to get out of the area, and I observed that,” the agent said.

The couple is accused of acting together to coordinate three separate drop-offs of SD cards containing classified information about nuclear submarines, specifically the Virginia-class submarine. The FBI agent disclosed the depths to which the couple attempted to hide the SD cards at the dead-drop locations, saying one SD card was tucked into a saran-wrapped peanut butter sandwich, while others were hidden inside a packet of gum and a sealed Band-Aid wrapper.

During an anticipated fourth dead-drop on October 9 in West Virginia, the couple was arrested by the FBI.

At the court hearing Wednesday, the testifying special agent said Jonathan Toebbe was getting increasingly concerned about his family’s safety. During the third dead-drop on August 28, Jonathan Toebbe arrived alone while his wife stayed home recovering from ankle surgery.

“Jonathan was extremely nervous,” the agent testified. “More nervous than we’d seen him on the previous ones and just very cautious about what was going on around him….because Diana was not there to act as a lookout.”

Jonathan Toebbe allegedly left a letter with the SD card during that dead-drop which said in part, “I have considered the possible need to leave on short notice. Should that ever become necessary, I will be forever grateful for your help extracting me and my family…. We have passports and cash set aside for this purpose.”

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted the couple, charging them each with one count of Conspiracy to Communicate Restricted Data and two counts of Communication of Restricted Data. The couple pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

If convicted on any of the three counts, the couple faces up to life in prison.

The couple was arrested October 9, and the initial criminal complaint described how the Toebbes tried to sell sensitive information about nuclear submarines to a foreign country in exchange for millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The country, which has not been identified in court filings, notified the FBI, which launched a year-long sting operation. The testifying special agent noted that the FBI moved quickly after discovering the couple was trying to sell these secrets in December 2020 because they were concerned the couple might try to shop the information to multiple countries.

After their arrest, the FBI searched their home in Annapolis, Maryland, where they discovered $11,300 in cash — all one hundred-dollar bills wrapped in rubber-bands; a crypto wallet; passports for their two children; and a go-bag containing a laptop computer, a USB drive and latex gloves.

Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that the couple had requested expedited passport renewals since theirs had expired in February 2021; the request was still being processed at the time of the couple’s arrest.

The Justice Department had previously moved to keep the couple in jail, citing their potential flight risk and the severity of their alleged crimes. The Toebbes appeared Wednesday with their court-appointed lawyers. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble said he will issue a written decision as to whether Diana Toebbe will be released pending trial.



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Bitcoin price surges to new record above $65,000

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Bitcoin prices have surged 50% this month, from just under $44,000 at the end of September.
Some investors are now predicting even bigger gains for bitcoin, despite continued criticism of the cryptocurrency by JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, who recently called bitcoin “worthless.”

“Given the price momentum we are seeing on the back of bitcoin’s ETF, we believe that bitcoin can easily go all the way to [$100,000] by the end of this year,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst with AvaTrade, said in a report Wednesday.



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