A major Trump forum scrubs its archives of thousands of pre-riot posts - 2021-01-29
In the days ahead of the January 6 Capitol riot, there were warnings, but no guarantee that the day would turn violent. But users of TheDonald.win, a major online pro-Trump forum, were preparing for a fight, posting maps of the Capitol and swapping messages about being ready to die.
In the wake of the carnage, law enforcement identified TheDonald.win as a key planning platform for the insurrectionists. And on Inauguration Day, the forum established a new domain, rebranding as Patriots.win. Alongside that transition, thousands of posts from lead up to the riot have disappeared from the site as though they were never there.
"Destroying evidence after you've committed a crime might itself be a crime."
Jared Holt, a research fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab who regularly monitors the forum, noticed the change when he recently went to reexamine now-missing messages. The posters' deleted content included maps of the Capitol, manifestos about their intentions upon arriving, discussion about flouting D.C.'s strict gun laws, and praise of extremist groups like the Proud Boys.