Will antigovernment groups use our site?

With the hate groups, insurrectionists, christian jihadists and so forth being purged from the popular social sites, expect them to seek alternative platforms to organize and communicate.
As the schoolkids have shown us, our site gives its members a free messaging service that is easily exploited without parents/teachers ever noticing. The spammers have shown us that projects, profiles, and lists are easily used for free publicity.
I’m asking users to be alert. Perhaps catch a screenshot of any activity that feels wrong.


((O’k, if you think this is really serious, I am ready to remove my amazement about this. Yes, for accuracy: 6 likes noted below this post received before this edit was made.))


I don’t think ellen5’s concern is irrational. There is a historic culture war being waged in America now. Those who refuse to acknowledge electoral defeat are deploying modern weapons, both physical and virtual, to press their assault on our Constitution. While I wouldn’t overly magnify the threat, I see nothing wrong with asking participants in this forum to be alert.


While the platform has been used for controversial stands and juvenile hate speech, in most cases the content has been swiftly flagged and just as quickly checked out by moderators. Cases of deliberate hate are removed where possible and hateful users are banned.
I’d say that there is still an issue of elitist toxicity, but it’s kept under control. The statement in support of Black Lives Matter last June got some backlash, but not too much.

I don’t anticipate that people will try to turn iNat into a place for hatred or hostility, but if anyone sees something, please use the flagging system. You are all the first line of defense – the Curators cannot patrol the huge amount of content on the site without you.

As for spammers, the automatic system catches most of them, and the requirements to unlock PMs and user profile visibility cover the large majority of what remains. Some people (and bots) are persistent, though.

That said, please remember there is a huge difference between an unpopular or even unscientific statement, and actual hate speech, with a lot of grey area in-between.


I agree that keeping an eye out for anything untoward is a good idea. However, I think it’s unlikely that there would be major activity in this vein on iNat for a couple reasons:

a) There isn’t an existing user base engaged with this publicly on the platform. I find that there’s very little political speech anywhere in the comments.

b) The messaging/social features of iNat really aren’t amenable to this. There aren’t easy share buttons for specific observations or journal posts to other platforms (like on other social media sites), and the DM feature is really basic (email is easier).

So while it is good to be cautious, I am hopeful there won’t be an issue.


As always, please flag any concerning activity, and for anything that is especially concerning or widespread, please email help@inaturalist.org to reach iNaturalist staff.


I hadn’t thought about that aspect, but then I did not know about the past juvenile hate speech. From my experience, iNat is well monitored. So while the risk is small, perhaps we should all be a bit more vigilant. I could say something nasty about the people who populate those sites, but will refrain.

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As well, since this in an International site, and iNat was to be chosen as a platform for anti government activity I suspect it should already have been evident from places besides North America.

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All messages on iNat (and the Forum) can be accessed by iNaturalist staff if need be (although we don’t do this unless they’re flagged or we have a very good reason to look, it’s not something we like to do).

There are many free encrypted messaging apps readily available out there, so iNat would not be a tempting option.

I’m going to close this thread, the original question has been answered and this forum is not a place to discuss politics.