Most people saw the Las Vegas shooting as a tragedy. Propagandists saw an opportunity.

"To learn more about what the motives behind this kind of behavior might be, I spoke to University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron. She’s the author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, a 2014 book that explores mob shaming, internet stalking, and other forms of online abuse — much of it orchestrated by people who frequent /pol/ and similar forums.

Citron told me that numerous issues and behaviors converge to form these situations — from isolated needy individuals wanting to one-up each other on the internet to a desire to spread good old-fashioned propaganda.

“Some of it is idiosyncratic personalities,” she said in a phone interview. “Part of it is hiding behind a screen to do things, being able to say and do things we couldn’t do in person, getting caught up in the crowd.”"