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A Brand’s Guide to Fringe Social Networks

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As mainstream social platforms enhance and begin enforcing their user policies, we here at Yonder are seeing users shift to smaller, more compartmentalized “niche” platforms. Some of these platforms are brand new, some have been around for a while, but they are all getting new users and factions by the score who are looking for alternatives to more popular technologies (hence “Alt-tech.”)

As with mainstream social platforms, niche platforms each have their own personality. They attract different people, employ different styles of user engagement, and tend to be “known” for different things. But they have one important trait in common: they are walled gardens of homogenous thinking, tightly ideologized, with high engagement and the ability to easily influence and ignite their network. Brands should be keenly aware of them, so – let’s get to know a niche platform, shall we?

WHO: Parler

AGE: born August 2018
PERSONALITY: Commonly referred to as “Conservative Twitter,” Parler describes itself as a platform “built upon a foundation of respect for privacy and personal data, free speech, free markets, and ethical, transparent corporate policy.” In less romantic terms, Parler is a microblogging and social networking service that came about as a direct result of people migrating from Twitter’s moderation and fact-checking policies, preferring a social media home with less “censorship.”  
WHO LIKE-LIKES THEM: Republican personalities, Alt-Righters, Saudi nationals, Russian trolls, anti-Semites, conspiracy theorists, Q-Anon, and people in favor of overturning the 2020 election results. As of November 2020, Parler had 8 million total users, with 4 million active users.

WHO: Gab

AGE:  born May 2017
PERSONALITY:  A haven for hate speech by far-right extremists, Gab is an Alt-tech social networking service that has attracted users and groups who have been banned from other social networks. 
WHO HAD THEM AT HELLO: Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, Alt-Right, right-wing Conservatives, conspiracy theorists, Q-Anon, and anti-vaxxers. In April 2020, the site had over 1.1 million new cumulative registered accounts and 3.7 million monthly visitors worldwide.

WHO: MeWe

AGE:  born May 2012
PERSONALITY: MeWe is one of the smaller, less-known “alt-tech” fringe media platforms for people too extreme for Twitter or Facebook. Like Facebook, it sports a news feed, the ability to post pictures, give status updates, and join groups. It does not allow ads or share personal information with advertisers, and offers a private, encrypted chat option that deletes communications from the company’s servers after messages have been delivered. On the last day Parler was up, users called for a switch to MeWe. 
WHO’S CRUSHING: Naturopathic health activists, anti-vaxxers, and people wary of “big tech” and censorship. The most active users are on the political fringe. After the 2020 election, more Conservative and far-right social media users started signing up, looking for a lighter approach to content moderation. MeWe saw an increase in activity after Parler was removed from the Apple and Google app stores, and now claims to have about 16 million users, suggesting a gain of 2.5 million users in the past week.

WHO: 4chan

AGE: born 2003
PERSONALITY: The “chans” (2chan, 4chan, 8chan, and now 8kun) grew out of a subculture of extremely “online” people, with a focus on Japanese pop culture and its Western fans. Despite benign beginnings, the platform developed extreme corners that allowed deeply troubling/violent/illegal material to remain without moderation. 
WHO’S MAKING MIXED TAPES : 4Chan is primarily made up of internet and fringe trolls. The language used on the platform can be racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. Some message boards simply discuss video games, TV, and all things My Little Pony. But other boards foster alt-right political discussions, and become breeding grounds of Q-anon conspiracies. Campaigns against brands that are associated with progressive values are sometimes planned on fringe media platforms like 4Chan before they are spread to more mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 4-chan users can be politically motivated, but others are just in it for the lulz.  

WHO: 8kun

AGE: born October 2013
PERSONALITY:  8kun (formerly known as 8chan) grew from the people who left 4chan looking for something even more extreme. This platform has deeply troubling corners that have allowed violent/illegal material to remain without moderation. Its current provider is VanwaTech (aka OrcaTech), a Russian-based company known only as ddos-guard[.]net that provides DDoS protection services. Some recent horrific events, such as the terrorist attack on a synagogue in New Zealand, are live streamed with enthusiasm on this platform. 
WHO’S WEARING THEIR PIN: 8kun largely serves far-right extremists, including some that promote violence, or share child pornography. It has also been a repository for hacking dump materials, like the Podesta email that users developed into the hypothetical narrative that would become Pizzagate

WHO: BitChute

AGE: born January 2017
PERSONALITY: BitChute was created to allow video uploaders to avoid content rules enforcement on YouTube. Some creators who have been banned from YouTube or had their channels barred from receiving advertising revenue (“demonetized”) have migrated to BitChute.
WHO’S PLAYING BARRY WHITE: Far-right individuals, conspiracy theorists, posters of hateful video material. 

WHO: First Social

AGE: bornJanuary 2021
PERSONALITY: First Social is a right-wing news source and conservative media echochamber, created by Tyler Webster as a direct result of Parler going offline. Webster regularly expresses support for President Trump on Twitter and has also engaged in conspiracy theories regarding the general election and the riots at the Capitol Building on January 6th. 
WHO’S DRAWING HEARTS IN THEIR NOTEBOOK: The site is very new, and has about 50-60K members as of 1/12/21. It appeals to users who regularly express free speech concerns on existing social platforms, those in favor of overturning the 2020 election, conspiracy theorists, and fans of high-profile people inside the Trump administration.

Now that we all know a few niche platforms, what is Yonder doing to help keep track of how they might affect your brand? We use AI to provide unique insights into coordinated factions on these fringe networks and can predict the trajectory of emerging narratives that have the potential to harm your brand’s reputation. Sound like something that could help your team? Well, check out our profile or…

Book 30 minutes with our team to learn more.

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