Alt-Finance for Alt-Tech

Monetizing the Insurrection Online Before and After January 6
Brief
lev radin / Shutterstock.com
May 5, 2022

On October 27, 2018, a mass shooter killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The shooter, Robert Gregory Bowers, was an active user of Gab, an alternative tech social media platform, where he posted nativist and anti-Semitic content. “Screw your optics, I’m going in,” Bowers wrote a few hours before commencing the attack. Bowers’s posts on Gab soon attracted media attention, and that’s when Gab’s founder and CEO, Andrew Torba, realized he had a serious problem.

With an estimated 800,000 users, Gab was not only one of the fastest growing alternative-tech, or “alt-tech,” platforms on the Internet at the time, it had also become infamous for serving as a haven for extremists motivated by racial and ethnic violence, due in large part to Torba’s philosophy about free speech: if it’s legal, it’s allowed. But for several of Gab’s key business partners, the Tree of Life shooting was a bridge too far. In response to the massacre in Pittsburgh, payment processors PayPal and Stripe announced a day after the shooting that they would ban Gab from their platforms. Gab’s webhost, Joyent, and the domain name registrar, GoDaddy, followed suit, forcing Gab offline for a week.

Until that point, the promise of monetizing a new online ecosystem designed by and for conservative and far-right movements had electrified proponents of the alt-tech approach to online platforms. Donald Trump’s elevation to the White House and inauguration in 2017 on the back of a massive social media campaign had fomented giddy excitement amongst tech entrepreneurs inspired by the libertarian strains in Trump’s movement. Along with Gab, platforms like Parler and Rumble were early experiments in blending the design features of mainstream tech providers like Facebook and Twitter with an anything-goes attitude towards content moderation.

But when major payment processors cut Gab off for good in the fall of 2018, it looked as if the alt-tech business model might fizzle out. Torba resolved his domain registration problem by switching to the Seattle-based registrar Epik, but Gab’s exile from mainstream payment processors proved to be a stickier wicket, and one that cost the company significant revenue. In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that December, Gab reported that losing access to applications for PayPal and Stripe “has resulted in a 90% decline in payments for our subscription services.”

Torba is not the only alt-tech CEO to experience the whiplash of early startup success and a precipitous fall from grace after running afoul of the terms of service provided by backend infrastructure tech companies. After the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, a similar pattern played out when tech providers deplatformed Gab’s alt-tech competitor, Parler. At the time, Parler’s CEO John Matze complained on Fox News that his business had been adversely impacted by Amazon’s decision to deplatform Parler. More recently, newer platforms that cater to the far-right and proponents of a style of government that privileges Christian nationalist ideals like Trump’s newly launched Truth Social app have also faced technical challenges and financial headwinds.

The January 6 insurrection and subsequent U.S. government scrutiny of the role of social media platforms in fueling the violence seems to have disrupted what once seemed to be a viable business model and means of fundraising for many on the far-right. Days after the assault on the Capitol, the Justice Department launched the largest federal investigation in U.S. history to identify and prosecute those responsible. The accused have faced grave financial repercussions, and so have many of the online businesses that catered to them. Capitol rioters lost their jobs. Individuals and entities alike were banned from payment apps and processors.

Many charged in connection with the January 6 attack now also face enormous legal costs. In December 2021, Karl Racine, attorney general for the District of Columbia, filed suit against members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers seeking restitution for millions of dollars in damages and explicitly said he hoped to bankrupt them. Some individuals who have been indicted by federal grand juries in Washington have tapped into platforms and alt-tech websites launched by close associates of Trump to help finance their legal defense.

Social media platforms where planning for the attack took place have struggled, too. Apart from Parler’s famous booting from Amazon servers, Gab reported in March 2021 that the company had lost access to four banks in as many weeks. For those charged in connection with the January 6 attack, then, as well as companies whose business models catered to the extremist strains that inspired the assault, finding alternate means of raising and sending money is as urgent as it is essential.

The question is whether the alternatives to well-known providers like PayPal are sustainable. This brief maps the financial tools and techniques employed by alt-tech industry leaders like Gab’s CEO Andrew Torba, high-profile members of the Proud Boys, and others implicated in the January 6 Capitol attack and the far-right’s assault on American democratic institutions. For many in this milieu, Amazon’s decision to pull hosting for Parler following the Capitol attack was a clarion call to the need for a parallel web, and prominent players—including Trump’s own companies—have since flocked to the task of building it. But in 2018 and 2019, movement leaders were still discovering how vulnerable to deplatforming they were on mainstream services, sparking an evolution toward more marginal and laissez-faire providers.

The years leading up to the assault on Congress saw alt-tech finance evolve in dramatic ways, maturing from ad hoc arrangements and one-person operations to sophisticated businesses backed by venture capital and hosted on private technology stacks. Our starting point for tracing this evolution is an open source tranche of Parler data that researchers Aliapoulios, et al. published in the wake of the Capitol attack and that contains many—but not all—of the posts from the first iteration of the social network, sometimes referred to as Parler 1.0. This dataset is one of several at the center of our ongoing analysis on the connection between alt-tech platforms and the insurrection at the Capitol; and it is the source for all unlinked quotes and references from Parler posts throughout this brief.

Rerouting around Financial Roadblocks

After the Tree of Life shooting in October 2018, Torba needed to find a new payment processor fast, but banks were reluctant to do business with a platform associated with the alt-right, white supremacist, Christian nationalist, and violent domestic extremist movements. “Gab has been denied by multiple banks during the underwriting process for a new payment processor,” Torba wrote on November 21, 2018. In the immediate term, he asked supporters to make payments by bank check or cryptocurrency.

Figure 1

Andrew Torba, founder and head of Gab, relates his difficulty in finding a new payment processor after PayPal and Venmo banned Gab following the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.

Then, on January 22, 2019, Gab announced that it had found a new payment processor, a company called 2nd Amendment Processing. According to Michigan state business records, 2nd Amendment Processing was created in December 2018, when Thomas Troyer registered the company as an LLC based in Brooklyn, Michigan. Troyer is also listed as an officer for several other payment processing-related businesses in Michigan. A 2019 Southern Poverty Law Center investigation found evidence that Troyer, who once went by a different name, was convicted of passing bad checks and had a criminal record.

In an April 2022 phone interview, Troyer and John Turner, chief operating officer, referred to 2nd Amendment Processing’s statement online about the company’s mission and emphasized that they do not support violence or property destruction. Troyer and Turner also said they could not discuss their clients, citing confidentiality agreements.

“We're just an American business helping out other businesses,” Turner said. “We don't even care about a political agenda. We care about America and the Constitution.”

“We do not support the January 6 thing,” Turner added. “So, if that’s what that’s about, then you have our statement on that.”

2nd Amendment Processing marked its partnership with Gab with a newly created account on the platform, taking the opportunity to solicit new business and promote two web stores, 1776.shop, a web store associated with Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, and proudofyourstore.com, an online shop for Proud Boys merchandise. A review of 2nd Amendment Processing’s Gab account showed that, between February and September 2019, the company promoted 1776.shop a total of 13 times.

Figure 2

2nd Amendment Processing’s Gab account promotes two online shops tied to the Proud Boys in early 2019.

These promotions of Proud Boys-affiliated web stores suggested that 2nd Amendment Processing was more than a small-town payments company that lucked into serving a prominent, albeit controversial, social media brand. Rather, 2nd Amendment Processing was part of the critical financial infrastructure that kept figures like Torba and Tarrio afloat as they faced more and more scrutiny from mainstream platforms and legacy media outlets in the years preceding the January 6 attack on the Capitol. As pressure ramped up to rein in anti-government and white supremacist extremist content online, 2nd Amendment Processing offered a lifeline to conservative movement and alt-tech industry leaders who might otherwise struggle to keep the lights on.

In fact, 2nd Amendment Processing was part of a wave of start-ups offering online services for the newly deplatformed that appeared as violence associated with online conspiracy theory movements like QAnon began ramping up after Trump took office in 2017. While the phrase “alt-tech” summons visions of social media platforms like Gab and Parler, it also comprises fundamental technical services without which Gab and Parler could not exist. Along with payment processing, which connects businesses to giants like Visa and Mastercard, these include services like crowdfunding, live streaming, web hosting, and even a mobile network. Taken together, these enterprises represent the emergence of a parallel economy, one designed from the ground up to support and shield the ideologically heterodox from government and big tech oversight.

Early Rumblings of a Troubled and Troubling Business Model

As chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio and his lieutenant, Joe Biggs, today stand accused of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, namely the certification of the Electoral College vote, among other crimes. Nayib Hassan, a defense attorney for Tarrio, did not respond to an emailed request for comment. In an April 2022 phone call, J. Daniel Hull, Bigg's defense attorney, declined to comment on the record.

Yet, years before the Justice Department charged Tarrio and Biggs in connection with the January 6 attack, they repeatedly fell afoul of tech providers who claimed that the Proud Boys violated their terms of service. This happened so often that Tarrio and Biggs bounced from one tech company to another, a pattern they documented in their online accounts.

For example, in July 2019, Joe Biggs used Parler to solicit donations to a PayPal account, writing that “many of us can [no] longer get jobs because of our activism” and adding, “Venmo is [the] only other thing I have. I use these two because they are instant.” But by the end of the month, PayPal and Venmo had both banned Biggs from their platforms after he announced plans to host a counter protest to Antifa in Portland.

On July 3, 2019, web commerce platform Shopify banned Biggs for “violating hate speech,” according to a post on Biggs’s Facebook page. Weeks later, Biggs announced on Parler that his unnamed replacement web store was also “taken down. Again. But this next one won’t be. No more using companies that cave to left wing mobs. I’m going underground.”

One such “underground” web store was the aforementioned 1776.shop, which went offline shortly before publication of this brief. The site sold Proud Boys apparel and tchotchkes, as well as preorders for Tarrio’s autobiography American Warlord. Archived versions of the site stated that a Florida company registered in Tarrio’s name called ​​Fund the West, LLC, owned the web store. The store accepted payment via credit card and cryptocurrency, the latter using the Canadian crypto gateway CoinPayments.

The importance of 1776.shop to the Proud Boys’s ecosystem of online fundraising was evidenced by the frequency with which leading members promoted it. For example, Joe Biggs promoted the web store in seven separate posts on the 1.0 version of Parler before it was taken offline. Tarrio made 24 posts that expressly referenced 1776.shop. Proud Boys-linked influencers also promoted the store. On February 5, 2019, for example, Roger Stone posted a video to his Instagram account of himself wearing a “Roger Stone Did Nothing Wrong!” t-shirt and writing, “Help me fight the Deep State and help fund my Legal defense fund! Go to 1776.shop to get your T-shirt” [sic]. Throughout 2019 and 2020, Tarrio also made several Parler posts promoting Stone’s legal defense fund.

Figure 3

Joe Biggs poses in a “Death to Antifa” t-shirt. On August 19, 2020, Enrique Tarrio shared the image on Parler with the text “@JoeBiggs rocking the 1776.shop exclusive ‘Death to Antifa.’”

Keeping 1776.shop online and profitable was not easy. At the beginning of 2019, Square, Chase Bank, and PayPal pulled support for the store in rapid succession, according to reporting by April Glaser at Slate. This may have been when 1776.shop switched to 2nd Amendment Processing, a timeline that aligns with the earliest plugs, on February 2 and 11, for Proud Boys’s web stores on 2nd Amendment Processing’s Gab account. According to Tarrio’s Parler, the company remained the payment processor for 1776.shop at least until August 2020, when his account posted that “@2ndAP [2nd Amendment Processing’s Parler handle] has been the credit card processor that has kept www1776.shop for 2 years” [sic].

2nd Amendment Processing is one of several companies registered to the same Brooklyn, Michigan, address, including Wholesale Processing Systems, LLC, and Critical Processing Solutions, LLC. The website for Wholesale Processing Systems avoids the conservative branding of its sister site and instead presents as a generic payment processing company. Notably, in a January 2019 SEC filing, Gab stated that it relies “on Wholesale Processing Systems, LLC, to handle our payment processing,” not 2nd Amendment Processing, even though Gab announced a partnership with 2nd Amendment Processing to supporters that same week. This suggests that the two companies are essentially interchangeable.

State business records list Thomas Troyer as the principal of both businesses, along with two other men. Troyer and his companies’ online activities suggest that his ties to the Proud Boys extended beyond providing them with critical financial services. For example, in April 2020, Troyer commented in the Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine Facebook group that the “best part of [the Proud Boys] man is the camradery. I'm a veteran and the comradery is just as strong” [sic].

“I support any group of people that believe in the Constitution,” Troyer said in an April 2022 phone interview when asked about his social media posts. “I believe in the Constitution. I took an oath to the Constitution.”

Another Facebook comment by Troyer read, “I hope the Proud Boys number swell up massively as they are 60% or better made up of veterans [...] who are sick of seeing antifa and BLM burn down cities and destroy people’s lives” [sic]. On Gab, 2nd Amendment Processing’s account shared Proud Boys’s content and social media feeds. On Parler, the company’s account replied to posts by Proud Boys leadership. One October 11, 2020 post, made in reply to Enrique Tarrio’s @noblelead account promoting a Proud Boys ring, read, “Take my money how much” [sic]. The account also promoted Tarrio’s campaign for Florida’s 27th Congressional district.

In short, as the presidential campaign season heated up and the Proud Boys’ financial difficulties continued to mount, the man handling payment processing for the group’s key online store was not just a business partner, but a fan.

Improvisation

The presidential campaign year of 2020 raised the Proud Boys’s profile to its highest mark yet. In February, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person events, members of the group turned up at Trump rallies, earning local media coverage. Tarrio himself ran as a Republican for Florida’s 27th Congressional district, raising a little more than $9,500, according to Federal Election Commission filings, but dropped out before the August primary.

During the summer of 2020, Proud Boys clashed with Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters in cities like Portland and Kalamazoo. Then, at the first debate between presidential candidates Trump and Biden on September 29, 2020, President Trump declined to condemn the Proud Boys and instead instructed them to “stand back and stand by,” which led to the highest level of search interest in the history of the group. On Parler, where he was live posting the debate, Tarrio reacted with euphoria: “ProudBoys!!!!!!! I will stand down sir!!! [...] Standing by sir” [sic]. Tarrio and Biggs ended the year attending large-scale protests that turned violent in Washington, D.C.

At the same time, Proud Boys leaders faced ongoing financial troubles. In June, Capital One canceled Tarrio’s credit card citing “adverse past or present legal action involving an individual or entity associated with the account.” Gateway Pundit, a far-right site known for publishing conspiracy theories and the most linked to source in the first iteration of Parler, interviewed Tarrio about the incident. In the article, Tarrio claimed that he had also lost his credit card processor, although this likely does not refer to 2nd Amendment Processing as, later that summer, Tarrio stated on Parler that he was still using the company. Finally, Gateway Pundit listed a Zelle account—a digital payment application—and a bitcoin address for readers who wished to donate to Tarrio. According to public blockchain data, the bitcoin address received 0.08116907 bitcoin, worth approximately $3,100 as of this publication. On July 8, Tarrio complained on Parler, “We’re already broke... No bank...no PayPal...no credit card processors.”

With a shrinking field of payment and fundraising options, Tarrio’s Parler account began evincing an interest in cryptocurrency and crypto influencers. On October 15, 2020, Tarrio’s @noblelead handle promoted the @Bankoferyka account, writing, “Why are y’all not following @Bankoferyka ? Entrepreneur. Bitcoin Jedi.”

The account belonged to Eryka Gemma, CEO of Blockchain Center. Gemma uses the same handle across multiple social media platforms, including Telegram, where she gives advice and commentary on blockchain currencies. On a website she promotes as her own, Gemma describes herself as the “godmother of Miami’s crypto scene.” A LinkedIn profile under Gemma’s name identifies her as Venture Director at Timelock Ventures, a venture capital firm “supporting early-stage startups in the autonomous financial services sector,” according to its website. As this brief goes to publication, Gemma had not responded to an emailed interview request.

Gemma and Tarrio interacted both on and offline during the fall and winter of 2020. During that time, Gemma’s Parler account chatted several times with Tarrio’s and, in a November 15 reply to Tarrio, described Gemma as “the new [Proud Boys] whisperer.” A November 2020 profile of Tarrio by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter described Gemma as Tarrio’s “girlfriend.” A video on fellow cryptocurrency guru Tone Vays’s Twitter page shows Gemma attending the December 12, 2020 “Stop the Steal” rally with several Proud Boys, including Tarrio. Gemma also stated on her now-private Twitter account that she would attend the January 6, 2021 rally that led to the Capitol attack.

Figure 4

Enrique Tarrio sits next to cryptocurrency consultant Eryka Gemma in a photo from a November 2020 profile in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

On the "Right Side"

In the weeks leading up to the Capitol attack, Tarrio was not the only Proud Boys leader exploring new financial possibilities. On December 21, 2020, Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs posted to Parler that a company called Right Side Payments had become the latest sponsor of his show on Gavin McInnes’s Censored.TV network, an online subscription channel that hosts numerous alternative media shows. In a long promotional post on his Parler account, Biggs wrote that Right Side Payments “believes in protecting the United States constitution” and “works with a stateside bank based out of Texas that holds traditional conservative values when it comes to business and family.”

In addition to a now-defunct website, Right Side Payments maintained social media accounts on Parler, Gab, and Gettr. The company is also listed in the “Patriots Patronage” section of the Digital Warriors USA site with “JoAnn B” as the point of contact. Digital Warriors USA is an organizing and publishing platform, which Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Advisor, promoted on Parler on September 23, 2020. The phrases “digital warriors,” “digital army,” and “digital soldiers” are all associated with the QAnon movement, which Flynn has promoted and profited from over the years, according to recent reporting in The Intercept.

The Parler account for Right Side Payments, active since May 2020, repeatedly made references to Pennsylvania and seemed to suggest the account holder was located in the vicinity of Scranton. In late November 2020, for example, the account tagged Tarrio in a post, writing, “I’m ready to take to the streets in Pennsylvania. I’m hoping that stop the steal and the proud boys head up this way [...] @NobleLead let’s do this'' [sic]. The account also posted several videos from the Capitol lawn during the January 6 attack. Despite the references on Parler to Pennsylvania and a Texas bank, business records do not exist in either state for Right Side Payments.

A search for #rightsidepayments on Instagram led to an account with the handle @theoneforfreedom. The account posted content similar to Right Side Payments’s Gab account, including promotions for a company called Nationwide Payment Systems, a financial services corporation registered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A Google search for “NPS Bank” and “JoAnn B” led to an employee directory that included a JoAnn Bauer as sales manager for the company. In an April 2022 phone interview with Nationwide Payment Systems CEO Allen Kopelman, Kopelman confirmed that Bauer works as a 1099 contractor with his company, but that otherwise Nationwide Payment Systems has no association with Right Side Payments. Attempts to reach Bauer via Right Side Payment’s phone number and her current employer were unsuccessful as this brief goes to publication. In addition, no Florida business records exist for Right Side Payments.

Figure 5

A still from a video posted to the Right Side Payment’s Parler account showing a woman on the Capitol lawn during January 6, 2021. A post from Right Side Payment’s Gab account depicting the same woman wearing the same clothes.

Given Right Side Payment’s lack of formal business records, dormant social media accounts, and lapsed site domain, the company no longer appears to operate as a payment processing entity - if indeed it ever did. The short-lived nature of the payment, fundraising, and advertising options on which Proud Boys leaders relied in the months before the Capitol attack point to an alt-finance ecosystem that was still nascent and improvisational. The events that took place on January 6, 2021, would make the development of more lasting solutions a matter of survival.

On the Ropes

After the Capitol attack, members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as well as their families, used GiveSendGo, a Christian crowdfunding site, to raise money for legal fees and in some cases received sums north of $100,000. Oath Keepers member Joshua James, who, according to charging documents, participated in one of the two Oath Keepers “stacks” that penetrated the Capitol on January 6, 2021, raised $198,550 in a GiveSendGo campaign that his wife organized after James’s arrest in March.

Roberto Minuta, an Oath Keepers member who was filmed guarding Roger Stone on the morning of January 6, 2021, raised $29,079 on GiveSendGo. On the same platform, Proud Boys Enrique Tarrio raised more than $113,000; Zachary Rehl raised more than $60,000; Joe Biggs raised $21,350; Nick Ochs raised $19,687; and Ethan Nordean raised $5,405. All funds were purportedly to pay for legal fees relating to Capitol attack cases. Nick DeCarlo also raised $7,096 on the fundraising site GoGetFunding.

Meanwhile, 2nd Amendment Processing and Right Side Payments went on a recruiting spree. In March, Troyer’s 2nd Amendment Processing account on Gab tagged U.S. Congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene and declared that the company is “in the fight with you” and that “[e]very day we are getting conservative business owners back up and running that the liberals have gotten shut down.”

In July, when PayPal announced a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League to study how extremist groups exploit payment platforms, 2nd Amendment Processing commented on Gab, “If you needed even more of a reason to switch to 2AP here you go.” In September, after Chase Bank temporarily canceled a credit card for Lori Flynn, the wife of Michael Flynn, citing “reputational risk,” 2nd Amendment Processing reposted to its site a Revolver article about the controversy.

Two weeks after the attack on the Capitol, Right Side Payments appealed on Gab to anyone “shut down by square, PayPal, Stripe or any of their merchant processor’s out there to the party affiliation” [sic], adding, “[w]e are your only source for payment processing that supports the conservative patriot movement.” The account also attempted to contact Torba after Gab announced that it was having trouble finding a bank willing to work with the company, tagging Torba and writing, “we have a bank that wants you to work with them please contact me now” [sic]. Right Side Payments continued soliciting business on Gab and Instagram well into 2021.

As the year wore on, alt-tech figures and those connected to the Capitol storming showed a growing interest in more lasting, institutional solutions. In August, Cynthia Hughes, a conservative activist and frequent guest on Steven Bannon’s War Room podcast, formed a New Jersey-based organization called the Patriot Freedom Project, which solicits funds to support what it calls the “political prisoners” of the January 6 investigation. By the end of the year, the group claimed to have raised nearly $900,000. On Gab, 2nd Amendment Processing teased a forthcoming “conservative bank.” After surviving for months on “checks and bitcoin,” Torba announced that Gab would launch GabPay, a PayPal alternative forming the basis of “an alternative economy.”

“If they want us out of their system, then so be it: we will build our own,” Torba wrote in a blog post. Bauer’s Right Side Payments account reacted by once again attempting to contact Torba. The company’s final post on Gab tags Torba and asks how to get in touch regarding GabPay. GabPay launched in December 2021.

A Parallel Economy

In November 2020, media personality and Parler investor Dan Bongino dedicated an episode of his show to the importance to the conservative movement of what he called “a parallel economy:”

There’s a way to fight back. I’ve told you this for years. Ladies and gentlemen, we must, we must build a parallel economy. [...] Parler and Rumble aren’t enough. [...] We need server farms. Because they’re going down the value chain. If they can’t kick us off the website, they’ll attack our web hosting at Parler. If they can’t get the web hosting, they’ll attack us in the app store. If they can’t attack us in the app store, they’ll attack payment processors. If they can’t get payment processors, they’ll go after Visa. If they can’t go after Visa, they’ll go after banks like they did in Operation Choke Point.

Less than a year later, Bongino launched a payment processing company literally called Parallel Economy. Like 2nd Amendment Processing and Right Side Payments before it, Parallel Economy promised a hands-off approach and to protect merchants from authoritarianism and “cancel culture.” But unlike some of its predecessors, Parallel Economy’s website is sleek and professional, designed to onboard prospective customers as smoothly as possible.

High-profile influencers like Bongino have long called for an alternative, anything-goes Internet ecosystem—indeed, that is what the alt-tech movement is all about. But the effort to build it is rapidly maturing. Proud Boys Enrique Tarrio and Joe Biggs connected with small-scale enterprises like 2nd Amendment Processing and Right Side Payments out of expediency and necessity, because they needed to shore up revenue streams after losing more conventional partners. The mix of personal and professional content on those companies’ social channels reflected the extent to which they were homegrown, personalized affairs.

Now, big money is moving in. In January 2022, alt-tech video streaming service Rumble—itself backed by billionaire Peter Thiel—acquired a stake in Bongino’s Parallel Economy. It is on this infrastructure that the next major domestic extremist attack will likely be planned. Preventing another incident like the Tree of Life synagogue shooting or stopping the next January 6th style attack on democratic institutions will be next to impossible unless tech policy and legislation catches up with the burgeoning merger of alt-tech with alt-finance. But doing nothing is not an option either. Long-term, regulators, lawmakers, tech industry stakeholders, and the public will need to chart a course that establishes a robust public square while countering threats from the Internet’s darker corners.