Some call this trolling, but that term is far too mild. These are not the proverbial hoodied losers in some basement, engaging with other humans only via videogames and 8chan. This cadre has hundreds of thousands of followers and devotees on Twitter, Instagram, Gab, and other social media, many of whom will post and amplify their views even after the personalities themselves are kicked off the platforms for threats and rules violations. The network also takes advantage of affiliations with increasingly mainstream partisan media outlets that will subscribe to any argument that suits their current agenda.
Ultimately, the followers—who are real people, not bots—are cultivated and activated: They don’t need be told to threaten or harass whoever the new enemy is because they already know their part in the play.