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After Parler was shut down, here’s where Trump supporters are gathering on the internet

January 13th, 2021 at 10:02 AM
Trump supporters
  • Following the DC riots last week perpetrated by Trump supporters, social media companies and Big Tech services have cracked down on far-right content.
  • In the wake of the far-right social platform Parler being shut down, now Trump supporters are engaged in a kind of digital diaspora, flocking to other apps and services.
  • These users are moving to platforms like Gab, MeWe, and Rumble, as well as to messaging services like Telegram and Signal.

The social media and Big Tech clampdown on President Trump has been swift and relentless in the wake of his incendiary public comments last week that stoked the DC riots, which have already resulted in dozens of arrests, at least five deaths, and many more arrests coming. During a press conference on Tuesday, acting US attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin told reporters: “Yesterday, my office organized a strike force of prosecutors whose only orders are to build sedition charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol.” The maximum sentence possible for a sedition charge is 20 years in prison, he added, and while 70 people have been arrested so far for their participation in the rioting by Trump supporters, around 100 or so additional criminal cases have been opened.

Accordingly, tech companies from Facebook and Twitter to others like Google have alternately banned, suspended, and scrubbed President’s Trump content from their services. The YouTube suspension came on Tuesday, with the service removing the president’s channel for at least a week for earning a strike as per the platform’s policies (though YouTube didn’t point to what content specifically earned the president this action). Meantime, in the wake of the shutdown of the controversial social network favored by the far-right called Parler, Trump supporters are now finding a slowly diminishing number of safe spaces for them on the internet.

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Parler’s shutdown came about as a result of pretty much all of its vendor relationships evaporating, which meant the Parler app getting the boot from the app stores of both Google and Apple, as well as Amazon pulling the plug on cloud service for Parler. Just because that digital gathering space for Trump supporters has disappeared, though, doesn’t mean the president’s supporters have. They’re now turning to services like:

  • Gab, another far-right social networking platform, which reportedly added 600,000 new users in recent days
  • MeWe, which has been described as a kind of conservative Facebook (sorry if that sounds like a redundant phrase)
  • and Rumble, which is trying to position itself as something of a YouTube rival.

According to Apptopia data reported by Axios, other services benefiting from the conservative diaspora include the messaging service Telegram, which claims to have as many as half a billion users, has an increasing number of far-right channels and saw its downloads double in recent days. Downloads of the messaging app Signal, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk talked up on Twitter in recent days, have also spiked recently.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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