The online video-storage and livestreaming platform Odysee has become a haven for extremists, who are using the site’s cryptocurrency-based revenue system to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars, researchers at the Southern Poverty Law Center found in a report shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
The law center’s inaugural Digital Threat Report, released publicly Tuesday, focuses on the video streaming website, which launched in 2020. The report is the first in a series of investigations of technology platforms that have been co-opted by extremists, which will be released in coming months by the center’s Intelligence Project.
The goal is to create a knowledge base about “alt-tech” websites popular with extremists and inform website users, parents and investors about the way the sites are being used. The effort is similar to the law center’s Extremist Files, which have long provided a catalog of information and data about extremist groups and individuals across the country, said Megan Squire, the center’s deputy director for data analytics.
“What I really wanted to do was focus on the tech and the platforms that are slipping by − they’re enabling extremism and fundraising, but people may not be aware of what they’re doing,” Squire said. “Say you see Odysee.com on your kid’s browser history − it just looks like a video-sharing website − you don’t realize that at any given moment they’re two clicks away from actual Nazi propaganda.”