Conspiracy theorists for the past week have been suggesting across social media that the U.S. military has been deployed domestically.
In numerous posts on Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok, far-right users are citing contextless videos of everything from tanks and helicopters as proof of a nefarious takeover plot.
One account in particular, a Twitter user known as @WillingWitness, has been particularly effective in spreading such unproven claims.
“BREAKING NEWS! Military landing in suburban neighbors in Larksper California. Massive military movements being reported in multiple states,” the user wrote. “Anyone have more info on this, please post below. My contact that sent this video is local military and says it is NOT a drill.”
The video has since been seen more than 6 million times, sparking fear and paranoia among conspiracy theorists online.
Yet the appearance of helicopters in California, in this case MV-22 Ospreys, is not unusual. As noted by journalist Tyler Rogoway, the helicopters are used to transport staff from the White House. The helicopters were filmed just days ahead of a planned visit to the area by President Joe Biden.
Numerous other videos went viral as well. Broes also shared footage of so-called tanks on the highway in Idaho.
The footage, which has garnered over 1.3 million shares since being posted, was similarly spread across social media.
“BREAKING NEWS!” Broes tweeted. “Tank group on the highway in Idaho falls today!”
Once again, as now outlined in a Community Notes banner, the military equipment was not out of the ordinary.
Local media reported earlier this month that the Idaho Army National Guard’s 1st of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment would be moving tracked vehicles along state roads on June 14. Traveling between the Idaho Falls Training Area and the Idaho Falls Armory, the military convoy was simply returning from an annual training event.
In yet another example, an account notorious for spreading misinformation shared footage of military vehicles being shipped by train before describing the display as “incomprehensible military activity.”
Once again, it was revealed shortly after that the vehicles in question were actually being transported in Canada by the Canadian military, not in the U.S.
Other conspiratorial accounts latched onto the trend by sharing supposedly new footage that was in fact years old. Prominent users such as Kim Dotcom, who regularly shares debunked information to his more than 1.4 million Twitter followers, helped spread the rumor that military activity had seen an uptick as if it were confirmed.
“There’s a significant spike in military activity inside the United States. Why?” he questioned.
While many conspiracy theorists expressed concern, others were quick to point out that such military movements and training exercises are much more common than some have suggested.
“This means nothing. In my hometown there are train tracks that lead to a large US Army base,” one commenter responded. “If I recorded every time I saw vehicles being shipped by rail even back in pre-9/11 days I could have convinced someone that something major was about to go down.”
The trend of pointing to footage of military movements as evidence of a domestic takeover is nothing new among conspiracy theorists. Back in 2015, conspiracy theorists in Texas became convinced that a military exercise known as “Jade Helm” was being used as cover for then-President Barack Obama to install himself as dictator.
“Oh lord. It’s Jade Helm all over again,” wrote former congressman Adam Kinzinger.