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Counter-terrorism expert brought in for testimony on day 5 of Alex Jones defamation suit

The plaintiff brought in an expert on counter-terrorism and how organizations influence audiences on the internet.

WATERBURY, Conn. — It was a new week into the Alex Jones defamation trial in Waterbury that saw more fireworks outside the courtroom than inside.

On day five of the trial, Jones touched down in Connecticut and briefly went into the courthouse, only to find out that he is not expected to testify this week. He told reporters outside the courthouse keeps "jerking me around."

He criticized the trial, calling the judge a "tyrant," claiming he was simply "questioning" the tragedy in his broadcasts.

"I am being ordered to say I am guilty," he ranted to the reporters outside. "This is the murder of American justice."

Inside, corporate attorney for Free Speech Systems Brittany Paz finished her marathon testimony. For more than three days, she was grilled on the inner workings of Jones' company.

RELATED: Alex Jones calls judge in Sandy Hook defamation trial a 'tyrant'

After Paz was dismissed, a new witness took the stand for the first time since last Wednesday.

Clinton Watts is an expert in internet analysis and social media, with a focus on counter-terrorism since 2002. He attended West Point and joined the armed forces before going into the FBI as a special agent in the terrorism task force after the September 11 attacks.

With his military and FBI background, Watts was tasked to keep track of how Al Qaeda recruited members on social media and the internet, and more recently, how Russia was interfering with information about the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Watts also founded Miburo, a cyber threat analysis and research company recently acquired by Microsoft.

The plaintiffs called him in to testify so that he could inform the jury about how organizations grow their audience online and analyze the effect Jones' content has on the audience over time.

During his testimony, Watts explained the basics of the internet and explained what he called the Four M’s.

They are: What is a Message and what is it trying to do, who is a Messenger and how are they connecting to an audience, Medium is the type of messages, such as video, print, or audio, and the Method in distributing and planning future messages.

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Watts then went over the importance of the volume of content a producer makes and the reach it can get from an audience, as well as the amount of time it takes to influence the audience.

He also went over the two generations of the internet; the 1990s to mid-2000s era where users would "pull" content by going directly to a website, and the current generation in which people can still pull, but social media allows individuals and organizations to "push" content onto others.

Watts then looked at year-to-year data for InfoWars.com pre-Sandy Hook.

In 2012, InfoWars.com saw an "extremely large" audience, which grew in 2013 “a sizeable increase over 50%” for total sessions, Watts said.

The court revisited the video Jones made just hours after tragedy hit Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, saying that "they" are after people's guns.

Watts explained what he saw in the message of the first part of the clip: “It's fear over loss of weapons which he uses as the justification, he stokes anger by repeating that it was some sort of a plot, and he uses demonization by picking a target, as in what the perpetrators are an existential threat to what they are behind which, in this case, is taking weapons.”

He mentioned that referring to broad-based terms like “they” for a bigger being or “globalist” would help InfoWars gather an audience, even though those words are considered vague.

At the end of the clip, Jones asks for tips from the audience.

Watts said Jones uses tips to rely on the audience to be part of the production, and that would maintain audience loyalty because the audience would see a reward in that, like fame from being credited for the tip or hopes for compensation.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: A behind-the-scenes look at the high-powered attorneys running the high-profile Alex Jones trial (Exclusive)

During Tuesday’s hearing, the court revisited an Alex Jones media kit, which lists many of the websites that Free Speech Systems manages.

Watts explains that having more than just InfoWars.com, like PrisonPlanet.com, encourages redundancy; in the case that one website malfunctions or goes down, the others can function and continue distributing content.

The plaintiff then zeroes in on the article and accompanying video, "FBI says no on killed at Sandy Hook," with the web article published Sept. 24, 2014, and a video broadcasted the next day, featuring Wolfgang Halbig as a guest.

Watts uses the four M's he explained earlier Tuesday morning, explaining that the Messenger, Alex Jones, will bring in other messengers, like Halbig, to reinforce evidence of false information. Wolfgang would give the appearance that many other people agree with what Alex is saying, according to Watts.

The clip continues and shows a promotion for an iodine pill from the InfoWars store.

Watts explains that the commercial in between segments in the broadcast is straightforward.

“If you can bring more viewers onto content, you can bring them onto solicitations and ads such as this,” Watts said.

Social media analytics for Sept. 23-26 were displayed, showing a "significant growth" in social media engagement after the Sandy Hook article and video were published.

"If he was talking about Sandy Hook over and over to create engagement of his audience, that engagement was designed to bring sales over time," Watts said when asked if he can conclude whether Jones was using Sandy Hook to bring in profits.

Like Paz, Watts had difficulty getting all of the analytic information from Free Speech Systems to prepare testimony. However, Watts and his team had the knowhow and resources to try and "recreate" any data they did not have access to.

His team had to use the Wayback Machine to get a glimpse of how widespread the video reach was at a certain point in time.

Using data his team could gather, Watts concluded that the minimum outreach for Alex Jones' Sandy Hook lies across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter between 2012 and 2018 was an audience of 550 million.

Pattis started cross-examination through the end of the day, and Watts will return for further testimony on Friday.

Leah Myers is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at lmyers@fox61.com

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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