Are the Proud Boys a fed honeypot?

The revelation that their leader was an informant casts the fascist frat in a whole new light

Justin Ward
6 min readFeb 5, 2021
Proud Boys at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina (Anthony Crider // CC-BY 2.0)

A couple years back, I was using Facebook to identify members of fascist groups for my research. I collected about 2,700 profiles of members involved with all kinds of far-right subcultures, ranging from skinheads and Klansmen to Siege-pilled nihilists and peckerwood street gangs. It took me about two months to locate all those using a fairly simple method. Fascists use little shibboleths to signal their beliefs online — Pepe memes, Odal runes, Totenkopfs, numerical codes, etc. — so it’s only a matter of finding a person with known white nationalist affiliations, then working your way through their friends and their friends’ friends until you map out an entire network.

Some are harder to spot than others. Proud Boys are by far the easiest because they’re all about that branding. Members are fond of posting pics of themselves in their signature black-and-yellow Fred Perry polos and throwing up “okay” signs. Often they’ll have profile frames with the group’s yellow rooster logo or write in their bios little inside code words like “POYB,” which is short for “Proud of Your Boy.”

A wild idea occurred to me: Maybe this is all by design. What if someone within the organization were…

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Justin Ward

Journalist and activist. Founder and co-chair of DivestSPD. Bylines at SPLC, The Baffler, GEN, USA Today. Follow on Twitter: @justwardoctrine, @DivestSPD