An Instagram account entitled @homegrownterrorists has been set up to identify and track those involved in yesterday’s armed riot that escalated into an attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC. The account has amassed more than 8,000 followers by the time of writing and has created more than 100 posts.
It’s unclear who, exactly, is running the account, which appears to have been created not long after yesterday’s riots began. Most of the page’s posts follow a simple formula: a few photographs of someone present at yesterday’s activities along with a caption pleading for any information at all about the person’s identity. There is also a Cash App link in the account’s bio section, though it includes no identifying information or instructions.
The account has, in its brief existence, already managed to identify a number of those present at the riots. But it’s unclear whether this crowdsourced sleuthing has the potential to provide actual accountability for the crimes committed on January 6 at the Capitol.
Seek and destroy — The homegrownterrorists Instagram account doesn’t have the kind of legal power wielded by others searching for the rioters — like the FBI, which put out a call on Twitter this morning for any information about those involved in yesterday's shameless and embarrassing attempt to overturn the election results, spearheaded by the sorts of people you warn your children they might turn into if they take too much LSD or get really into wolf T-shirts.
But the account has had some luck already in holding the amateur terrorists accountable for their actions. The account posted early this morning about Paul Davis, for example, and tagged his employer, Goosehead Insurance Agency, in the description. Goosehead posted about six hours later that Davis, who was Associate General Counsel at the agency, has been fired.
Could this actually help? — Given that it’s been less than 24 hours since the attack and homegrownterrorists has already managed to identify a number of yesterday’s instigators, there’s reason to believe this crowdsourced Instagram account will actually provide some accountability, if only by forcing the employers of those involved to take action.
And though the FBI clearly has access to top-notch facial recognition software, there is something to be said about this manual identification process. Facial recognition software has a huge problem with false positives, for one thing, and it’s likely slower than just asking people to do the footwork themselves.
The homegrownterrorists account’s posts have been inundated with comments praising the work being done. It's inspiring to see crowdsourcing and internet sleuths combining to do something so important, but it's sobering to think Washington D.C.'s holding cells aren't packed to capacity this morning.
Law enforcement efforts to bring criminal charges against the rioters have been disappointing so far, but will hopefully ramp up in the days to come. According to homegrownterrorists’s Instagram Story, plenty of Trump’s supporters have been reporting it in an attempt to stop the identification of their peers — which means it’s definitely doing something right.