The alleged murder of a 17-year-old blogger has revealed a dark reality of the ‘incel’ offshoot, which followers seemed to think was a joke. Writer Elfy Scott has been investigating the movement.
An American man is facing 25 years in prison over an alleged murder associated with a branch of incel culture known as 'Darkcel'.
Brandon Andrew Clark acted as an administrator on the Facebook page "Darkcel Gaming", which had a following of 6,688 people.
On Monday Clark posted a selfie to the page stating "This may be my final post, they're coming for me and I have done something very very terrible...I am sorry."
Around the same time, Clark had been posting images to his Instagram account @yesjuliet that documented him travelling to 17-year-old Bianca Devin's home and allegedly slitting her neck.
The posts have since been removed.
Clark's intention to take his own life was documented, as he posted his own memorial dates on his Instagram page prior to the murder.
A police statement confirmed this.
Images of Bianca's body were distributed widely across 4Chan, Instagram, Facebook and various other forums after sitting unmoderated on Clark's Instagram stories for hours.
It's understood authorities have been trying to contact these platforms.
In the hours following Bianca's alleged murder, the page was removed by Facebook.
The crime is, first and foremost, an horrific example of violence against women. It's also drawing attention to another apparent online movement - one which previously may not have been taken so seriously.
'Darkcel' was supposedly a branch of 'incel' (involuntary celibate) culture but the core belief system was relatively opaque.
While the typical incel cornerstones of misogyny, self-superiority and alienation from wider society were apparent, the unique Darkcel brand was not as well-defined as other branches.
In an explanation of Darkcel available on Reddit, the group is described as the "next evolution and solution to the inceldom, and mankind in general, we represent the next paradigm shift in thinking, we are the true enlightened."
Although it is unclear if Clark himself penned the explanation, the post continues that Darkcels "are the ones who will tame the shadows and become "Destiny" itself, we will give birth to a new world order, a true age of enlightenment. We are the personification of Death to the old."
On the Facebook page, the common rhetoric was a bizarre blend of sexism, self-improvement, gym culture, and social observation without any tangible direction for followers to grasp onto specifically.
The word "moid" (which refers to a "moderate intellectual disability") was consistently employed to describe those who continued to exist in normal society and did not subscribe to the Darkcel ideology.
A large percentage of the group's followers appeared to believe the page was a parody of incel culture, based on comments and laughing reactions to daily posts.
'Darkcel Gaming' posted multiple videos, including one using WWII-era motifs and imagery with a distorted voiceover that asserted that the ideology was not a joke and instead, something for audiences to take seriously. The voiceover stated that "those who stand against us will not stand for long."
A similar deep distorted voiceover is used on a series of podcasts that are still available on Youtube titled "The Darkcel Podcast". The first episode explains that the narrator was destined to become an incel based on "genetics" and describes a series of rejections from women such as being laughed at by a girl in elementary school "because she thought I was pretty pathetic".
The most recent podcast was posted two days ago to the Darkcel account and describes why men should not dwell on nostalgia because it will "literally kill you".
The Darkcel ideology as such does not appear to extend beyond the Facebook page and podcast and it is not clear whether the two are directly related.
Clark's Instagram account @yesjuliet, which has now been removed for violating community standards, included a fairly banal look at his life, including selfies, moments with friends around campfires and many bodybuilding-related posts.
Initially showing a young man in typical "emo" attire, his Instagram showed a slow evolution into a seemingly well-adjusted gym junkie who enjoyed the outdoors and drawing.
Devin had her own well-defined internet presence as an "e-girl" with a cult following. She was responsive to her followers on Instagram and also operated a Tellonym account where she would reply consistently to anonymous questions about her life and pleas from people asking for advice.
In the days leading up to her murder, these messages became increasingly hateful and violent, including one submission that told Devin "KILL YOURSELF BECOME A GOD". These posts now appear to have been removed.