As per The Guardian, two rioters used the voice messaging app to talk with each other people who were icniting them from distant locations.
“We are in the main dome right now,” a female militia member was heard saying amid the mayhem, the outlet reported. “We are rocking it. They’re throwing grenades, they’re frickin’ shooting people with paintballs, but we’re in here.”
A male voice replied from a quiet location: “God bless and godspeed. Keep going.”
Another person was heard saying: “Jess, do your s—. This is what we f—- lived up for. Everything we f—- trained for.”
These messages took place at 2:44 p.m. Jan. 6 in apublic channel titled STOP THE STEAL J6” — which is said to contain around 150 million users and also, has avoided the proactive moderation of far-right rhetoric, according to The Guardian.
More than 800 far-right channels are present on Zello — which also claim to bar anyone who even intends to promote violence and violent ideologies, as per the news outlet. The walkie-talkie app is also used by the Cajun Navy, which are a group of volunteers who help stranded people in storms.
Zello said it was “prepared to take action on those,” adding that it was working on a more elaborate response.
However, Zello has started to erase some far-right groups from the platform Wednesday. This, as a bid for users to avoid finding more extremist content out there.
The company purged around 2,000 “channels associated with militias and other militarized social movements.” after The Guardian report.
“It is with deep sadness and anger that we have discovered evidence of Zello being misused by some individuals while storming the United States Capitol building last week,” Zello wrote in a blog post, according to The Guardian.
“Looking ahead, we are concerned that Zello could be misused by groups who have threatened to organize additional potentially violent protests and disrupt the US presidential inauguration festivities on January 20th,” it added.
As for the Zello user “Jess,” it seems to refer to Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old Ohio bartender woman who told the Ohio Capital Journal she took park in the Capitol siege as leader of the Ohio State Regular and Oath Keepers militias.
The Oath Keepers is one of the “largest radical anti-government groups in the US today,” The Guardian reports.
The messages posted by Zello user “Jess” resemble much to Watkins’ Parler profile — another social media platform that major service providers have booted from their network, according to the news outlet’s research.
“Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today. Teargassed, the whole, 9,” she wrote on Parler, The Guardian reported. “Pushed our way into the rotunda. Made it into the Senate even.”
Wayback Machine — a group of hackers — uploaded her profile, alongside thousands of other ones after the Capitol siege.
“We have a good group: 30 to 40 of us. We’re sticking together and sticking to the plan,” the female voice is heard saying on Zello. “The police are doing nothing. They’re not even trying to stop us.”
Meanwhile, records from other far-right channels show that Zello was used to organize and foment unrest in the lead-up to the riot.
“Once we go operational, this channel will just be for intel gathering and organizing on the backside … All information, once verified, will be put into the Telegram and then shared to boots on the ground from there,” a user named “AmericanRev2” said in password-protected channel “DC 3.0”, The Guardian reported.
On Jan. 4, two days before the insurrection, a militia member said on Zello: “How about if all of us stand the f— up, and take this s— back?”
He added: “I got a problem with f— patriots not growing a f—- set of g—- nuts and standing the f— up, and kicking b— in the f— teeth. And shooting m—- f—- in the f—- head.”
He then tried to walk back his incendiary remarks, according to the report.
“I ain’t talking about doing anything illegal … I want y’all to know I love you … I just wanted to incite enthusiasm,” he said.
In October, a joint investigation from On the Media and MilitiaWatch revealed that Zello resisted calls to enforce its terms of service, which bans “violent extremist ideologies.”
“Zello simply cannot actively monitor millions of concurrent discussions,” the company told On the Media before it eventually banned some white nationalist groups and users.