North Carolinians showed a greater interest in political violence and armed groups than the nationwide average, according to an analysis of Google search data collected since September.
Moonshot CVE, which tracks online extremism, found North Carolina had 43 percent more searches per capita than the national average for political violence and 19 percent more searches for armed groups, such as how to join them.
Searches related to political violence included interest in “specific threats against political figures, for example, people who are looking for information on how to kill Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and others,” says Kieren Aris, Moonshot CVE business development manager.
The most popular searches for armed groups were the “Three Percenters,” “Proud Boys,” and “Oath Keepers.”
The company collected search data over six months from September to March and assigned individual searches within a six-level risk matrix.
In North Carolina, 22 percent of all searches related to domestic extremism fell into the most serious risk category, a desire to harm, such as Googling bomb-making instructions.
The company did not disclose the total number of extremist searches discovered during the six-month analysis, but it did provide a heat map indicating per capita levels of interest in domestic extremism in each of the state’s 100 counties.
In Wake County, 11 percent of searches rose to the company’s highest risk level. In Durham County, 26 percent of searches were assigned the most serious level. In Orange County, it was 14 percent.
The analysis showed a spike in interest for domestic extremism in the days leading up to the November presidential election before slowly creeping downward and cratering in March.
Statewide, 66 percent of the searches were attributed to individuals over 45 years old. Only 7 percent were adults aged 18 to 24, the company said.
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