The Far-Proper Is Flocking To These Alternate Social Media Apps — Not All Of Them Are Thrilled

Top line

After the purge of Facebook and Twitter, Trump supporters and far-right groups are turning to smaller platforms that either promise bastions of free speech or operate with limited policing. While some of these platforms have embraced the newcomers, others are stepping up their moderation efforts.

While platforms like Gab are cheering the influx of far-right users, others have vowed to step up … [+] Moderation.

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Key factors

Traffic on Gab, a far-right alternative to Twitter, has increased, mostly from new members who are Trump supporters, supporters of QAnon conspiracy theory, and other right-wing extremists.

The platform, which several prominent far-right figures have joined, announced on Wednesday that it had 1.7 million logins and 52 million page views over the past week.

While Gab’s claims have not been independently verified, publicly available data from web analytics firms Alexa and Google Trends show a significant surge in interest in the platform over the past month.

Axios said app downloads for Rumble, a conservative YouTube alternative backed by experts and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Have doubled in the past week.

The social media platform MeWe, which presents itself as an alternative to Facebook without targeted advertising, was an unexpected beneficiary of the online migration last week. The company’s app became the fifth most popular free app on Apple’s App Store and Google Play on Monday.

While MeWe seems happy with the influx of new users, its CEO Mark Weinstein told Fortune that the platform will be “more vigilant” when it comes to moderating content rather than becoming an “anything goes” app.

The downloads of the messaging app Telegram – already popular in Russia, Eastern Europe and parts of Asia – rose sharply last week and rose to number 2 on the list of the most downloaded free apps in the Apple App Store since Monday.

The messaging app, which recently had more than 500 million active users, cracked public channels from QAnon supporters and right-wing militias threatened with further violence in Washington, DC

tangent

The Guardian reported Thursday that members of a militia group that participated in the Capitol occupation last week used the Zello walkie-talkie app to coordinate the attack. A female militia member reportedly offered play-by-play updates to other members who were watching the events off-site. Zello admitted that its platform was “misused” by some people who stormed the Capitol, saying it banned all militia channels and deleted them more than 2,000 hours after the report was released.

Key background

Several experts following extremist movements have warned that the ban on mainstream platforms may not stop them and could drive them further underground. Of particular concern is the adoption of messaging apps like Signal and Telegram, which allow users to encrypt their communications (Signal does this by default) so that law enforcement and intelligence agencies cannot monitor them. Harry Fernandez, director of Change the Terms, an online nonprofit hate speech, told Forbes recently, “It’s dangerous that they don’t seem to have the infrastructure to monitor these platforms.” For most of the 2010s, the terrorist group Islamic State used Telegram as an effective recruiting and propaganda tool for their wars in Iraq and Syria. The surge in Signal and Telegram usage over the past week was also sparked by a backlash against WhatsApp owned by Facebook, which updated its privacy policy this month to share more data with its parent company.

further reading

Gab CEO Denies Responsibility For Capitol Assault With Elevated Control (Forbes)

Meet the Billionaires Behind Signal and Telegram, Two New Online Houses For Disgruntled Conservatives (Forbes)

The online rights on the far right are underground (Axios)

Trump supporters flock to MeWe, Gab and Rumble after Parler goes offline (Fortune)

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