Momentarily, big tech has canceled both Parler and the President. Over the weekend, Amazon kicked Parler off their hosting services which means they will be temporarily offline until they can find new hosting services. Something similar happened in 2019 to message board 8chan, but they returned with the help of a Russian platform.
- How long will it take for Parler to be back online?
- Where will Parler users go in the interim?
- What does this mean for the future of where fringe communities will congregate online?
How long will it take for Parler to be back online?
Parler will most likely be back. It’s well funded and has the most engaged community of the so-called “alt-tech” platforms. If 8chan/8kun can find a new home on the internet after being taken down, so can Parler.
The Yonder platform has been analyzing narratives across the most influential niche and non-mainstream platforms (including 4chan, 8chan/8kun, Gab, Parler) for years and is built to be able to quickly add new platforms as they arise. We see them come, go and re-emerge as their popularity or regulation rules evolve.
Where will Parler users go in the interim?
In the meantime, radicalized online factions need three things to run influence campaigns; they have to develop narratives, amplify those narratives, and distribute them to the mainstream. Other spaces like Gab, MeWe, 4chan, 8kun also provide the necessary tools for these factions to continue operating successfully. On Sunday, the last day the platform was up, Parler users called to switch to MeWe in addition to boycotting tech companies and companies typically associated with the Left.
“#Freedom # Parler #parler Move to MEWE for Free speech- dump AMAZON, DUMP twitter, FB shuddered when the exodus began, Dump grub hub, Dump starbucks, DUMP ALL BIG TECH APPS- google etc.”SOURCE: Parler. Post has been removed.
Research shows that “deplatforming” does reduce a group’s influence. But it also further radicalizes diehard supporters. Expect disinformation campaigns to get more creative, more desperate, and harder to predict.
While a small subset of Parler users are violent extremists, many more are hyper-engaged conspiracy theorists, provocateurs, etc. who won’t and shouldn’t be targeted by law enforcement, and will still engage in what they see as digital activism — astroturfing, organized boycotts, and spreading propaganda via other tactics.
These groups and their sympathizers are already organizing boycotts of brands that advertise on Twitter. Expect the same retaliation against other platforms, and a future in which platforms, brands, and public figures are required to take sides. We can no longer separate private enterprise, politics, and the public square.
“We must protest with our wallet. These companies and organizations are colluding! Be #JohnGalt You must #CANCEL and #BOYCOTT #Apple #Amazon #Walmart #FoxNews #Starbucks #Google – stop using. #Twitter”SOURCE: Parler. Post has been removed.
Don’t forget that these radicalized factions have well-connected, high-profile sympathizers who are not endorsing violence, aren’t infringing on platforms’ terms of service, and whose speech is protected by the first amendment. This wasn’t true with previous waves of online radicalization — namely ISIS. These sympathizers will continue to be active on mainstream social platforms and in the media.
What does this mean for the future of where fringe communities will congregate online?
Everyone — platforms, legislators, brands, and the public — should prepare to be in this for the long haul. The violence at the Capitol, especially on the heals of the suicide bombing in Nashville over Christmas, was, in many ways, the culmination of 6 years of radicalization — enabled and empowered by some public figures, but born on the internet.
Below is an excerpt from our webinar on what brands need to know about fringe social platforms. Watch it here.
Over the coming years, as researchers, law enforcement, and government turn their focus to this problem, we’ll come to understand the impact of online radicalization on this generation. As researchers have been saying for years, other platforms, like YouTube, are effectively “radicalization machines.”
Radicalization is a problem that is managed, but never solved. While the actions taken by tech companies last week will have a short-term impact on violent groups’ abilities to organize, we’re only just beginning to address what may be the biggest challenge of the next decade.
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