TORONTO — A message allegedly posted by the accused in Toronto’s deadly van attack is shedding light on a mostly male online community that an expert says endorses violent rhetoric against women.
Police have said they are looking into a “cryptic” message posted on Alek Minassian’s Facebook profile minutes before pedestrians were mowed down on a northern stretch of Yonge Street.
Facebook has said it deleted the account associated with the widely circulated post, which refers to involuntary celibacy, often shortened to “incel.”
Ryan Duquette, of the Toronto-based digital forensics consulting firm Hexigent, says it’s not clear who accessed the account when the message was posted based on the information that’s publicly available.
Both Facebook and police declined to provide more information about the post’s origins.
An associate professor at Dublin City University who studies gender and social media says incels mostly consist of men who are resentful of their inability to find a partner and typically blame women for their sexual rejection.
Debbie Ging says the post’s warning of an “Incel Rebellion” echoes violent language used on incel forums, most of which she ascribes to “venting.”
The post also refers to Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and then himself at the University of California in 2014, as a “Supreme Gentleman,” a moniker Ging says is often used by incels.
She says the post has generated a discussion about violent sentiment in male-dominated online subcultures, reinforcing the need to take these communities seriously as a “political entity.”
Police have said those who were killed or injured in Monday’s attack were “predominantly female.”
Minassian, 25, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Police said a 14th attempted murder charge would be laid following further investigation.
The Canadian Press