An online crackdown on conservatives following the U.S. Capitol takeover by pro-Trump protesters appears to be backfiring in at least one major way.
The chart: Downloads of social media apps that are dedicated to free speech, and are in some cases encrypted, have lately surged, a chart created by Axios shows.
Signal, CloutHub, MeWe, Telegram and Rumble all saw big gains after Parler, an upstart social site popular with conservatives, was kneecapped last week by Amazon, Apple and Google.
- Axios’ Kyle Daly and Sarah Fischer worried on Tuesday that the online purge of figures and platforms on the right “looks to be driving radicalized users into darker corners of the internet,” where they will be harder to monitor and control.
- The journalists deemed mainstream messaging platforms like Signal and Telegram the biggest threats because they are “far more stable and secure and could prove more enduring homes and recruitment stations for far-right groups.”
The big picture: The takedown of Parler was part of a larger campaign by internet giants — along with other corporations and institutions — to silence the populist right in the name of preventing further insurrectionist violence.
- Most prominently, Twitter and Facebook last week barred President Donald Trump from their platforms; and Facebook on Monday said it would remove all content related to the “Stop the Steal” effort to overturn the election based on unproven but widely believed claims of widespread voter fraud.
- Trump responded from the @POTUS Twitter account by promising to find or create a new platform: “We will not be SILENCED! … STAY TUNED,” he said in a series of tweets to his supporters that moderators quickly deleted.
- Among Trump’s unlikely left-leaning allies against Big Tech were the ACLU and leaders of Germany and France.
- “The chancellor sees the complete closing down of the account of an elected president as problematic,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman said on Monday. “Rights like the freedom of speech “can be interfered with, but by law and within the framework defined by the legislature — not according to a corporate decision.”
Meanwhile, Parler on Monday transferred its domain to Epik, a provider that has previously helped other controversial right-wing platforms avoid internet cancelation.