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Photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images

The online far right is about to face a cold reality it long denied was a possibility: the post-Trump era.

What's happening: Fringe-right internet users are broadly poised to enter the Biden era in one of three states: Denial, disenchantment or determination to use the moment to their advantage.

Catch up quick: Since the election, the idea that Trump would, any day now, reveal evidence of a massive voter fraud conspiracy and somehow nullify the election has grown increasingly mainstream on the right — especially among believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory.

  • That belief led directly to the Capitol siege. Now, a great many people primed for that moment are about to watch Joe Biden take the oath of office.

Here's where the different groups stand:

The true believers: Many people still believe Trump is about to impose martial law, blacking out communications and media networks and seizing control of the airwaves via the emergency broadcast system.

  • Some people are taking to ham radio and other alternative communications networks to ensure they can stay in touch after the promised blackout, notes NBC News.

The disillusioned: Some have turned on Trump, angry that the president has attempted to distance himself from the Capitol riot.

  • The truly furious may be a small sliver of the broader right. Recent polling indicates that Trump's strong support among Republicans remains sturdy even in the wake of the Capitol siege.
  • But those frustrated that Trump didn't find a way to somehow stay in office are a larger group, and one about to grow larger when "The Storm" — QAnon's imagined moment when Trump would launch mass arrests of his political enemies and cement his hold on power — doesn't happen.

The opportunists: The most radical of the far-right fringe see a recruitment bonanza in the large body of people who will be left angry and aimless as Biden takes office.

  • Extremism researchers have watched pro-Trump Telegram channels and other forums become fertile territory for violent extremists like the Boogaloo movement, which wants to incite a second civil war, to pick up fresh followers.
  • There's a well-established radicalization pipeline on the far right that includes its own lingo. "Redpilling," for instance, borrowed from The Matrix, refers to opening people with mainstream views up to far-right perspectives.
  • "Blackpilling" is a step further, referring to induction into a nihilist worldview that holds violence as the only solution for defeating the left.

The bottom line: A spell will not be broken at noon. It's unclear what will happen to the many people who have found their places in pro-Trump internet communities that are still all-in on nullifying the election — and whether the transfer of power will tamp down on online extremism or drive people further into far-right online enclaves.

Go deeper

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

5 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

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