This is called the Great Displatforming. In the hours and days following the insurgency on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube launched then-President Donald Trump, along with many involved in planning the attack. .
Since then, far-right groups that had used big tech platforms to spread lies about the 2020 US presidential election, stoke conspiracy theories and call for violence have struggled to find new homes on the internet.
“The platform … produced this great scatter where groups that were banned or groups that thought their bans were imminent or coming in this giant game of musical chairs, jumping from platform to platform “said Jared Holt of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council. and the author of a new report on domestic extremism.
New Platform Comes With Conspiracy Theories And Promo Codes
They have turned to the encrypted messaging app Telegram, video streaming services DLive and Rumble, and social media sites like Parler, Gab and Gettr that claim to allow users to post things that would cause them problems on Facebook. or Twitter.
Some right-wing figures have even launched their own platforms. This includes Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow turned conspiracy theorist who is being sued for libel over his allegations of rigged voting machines.
“They canceled my Twitter, they canceled YouTube, they canceled Vimeo. I said, we have to find something to get our voices back,” he said when his site launched in May.
Lindell regularly broadcasts live online. During an interview with former President Trump about his baseless allegations of voter fraud, promo codes for MyPillow appeared at the bottom of the screen.
Experts say the dispersal of the most prominent figures and groups promoting the “big lie” about the election has had an impact.
Alternative platforms often become echo chambers
“The best research we have suggests that the deplatform is very powerful,” said Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University. “That means the really prominent actors who helped fuel the Stop the Steal campaign that led to the insurgency have a lot less reach, get a lot less audience and attention. And that’s very, very, Very important.”
As a result, alternative tech platforms have become echo chambers for those clinging to the false belief that Trump has had the presidency robbed.
None of them have become the main destination for the far right and diehard Trump supporters.
“I would say it will be an uphill battle for most of these guys. They don’t all have the ability to create their own platforms, and often they lose their legitimacy by moving away from traditional platforms,” he said. Megan said. Squire, professor of computer science at Elon University.
One of the reasons is Trump himself. Rather than joining one of the existing alternative platforms, the former president touted plans for his own social network. But it has yet to be launched, and its corporate structure is under investigation by federal regulators.
In the meantime, far-right groups are adjusting: joining protests at city council and school board meetings against warrants for vaccines and masks and on how public schools teach children about race.
This new local focus doesn’t require a large network to have an impact, said Holt of the Atlantic Council.
“If the organization’s goal is to just get a dozen people to come forward to a local government agency, then you know they don’t need a channel or an account with 100,000 subscribers on it. . They might just need a hundred, “he said.
This made extremists less visible on the national stage, but no less threatening, according to Candace Rondeaux of think tank New America, who studied Speaking’s role in the attack on Capitol Hill.
“You have to go almost to the county level to understand what is going on and how what is happening online relates to what is happening offline,” she said.
Reconstructing this image will be the challenge for researchers, journalists and law enforcement officials in 2022.
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