The takedown of Parler was purportedly based on its unique role in fomenting hate online relating to its alleged outsize role in the events at the Capitol on January 6th.  Having spent a couple days weeding through the DOJ’s published arrest reports, I found little mention of Parler, but plenty of alleged criminal conduct referencing Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, in the charging document.

Of the 19 DOJ press releases published to date, including the attached affidavits and other documents where applicable, regarding the persons charged for involvement in the Capitol Hill riots, there are multiple and lengthy references to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.  This is not an exhaustive listing of the reported 170+ arrests made thus far; this post reflects only those materials the DOJ has made available at the time of this writing.

Parler is mentioned in only two, with Facebook references far dwarfing the Parler references in one and the other being an unprofessional, ideological rant against Parler.  Five do not mention any of these sites (see here, here, here, here, and here).

Parler vs. the Big Tech Goliath

Parler’s success rattled the left, Big Tech, and the activist media.  For years, they dismissed conservatives’ concerns about shadowbanning and other methods of ensuring the right’s reach was minimized.

Repeatedly told, “if you don’t like it, start your own,” conservatives did just that with Parler and other center-right and right-leaning sites.  Parler was by far the most successful, so it became a regular target of the left, as we documented here at LI.

The vilification of Parler culminated with Apple and Google pulling the Parler app from their stores, with the coup de grâce delivered by Amazon who kicked Parler off their hosting service.

Once down, Parler was hacked, and a database of all Parler data regarding the Capitol riot was set up.  This was then used by the left to claim that Parler was responsible. This was ridiculous on its face given that a similar analysis of every Capitol riot-related tweet/video/etc. posted to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter was not provided for comparison.  Yes, questionable content was posted to Parler, but how much was also posted to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter?

It would seem from the arrest reports released by the DOJ to date that they are relying on these three far more than on Parler, the supposed hub of the Capitol riot.

DOJ Reports Mentioning Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

Some of the DOJ press releases included no attached affidavit, indictment, or other such document.  I have searched these releases for the following: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Parler.

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Three Charged in Federal Court for Assaulting and Impeding Local and Federal Officers during U.S. Capitol Breach,” there is explicit mention of one of those charged posting a video to Facebook.  There is no mention of Parler.

The affidavit also alleges that in a video post to his Facebook account, Fairlamb, carrying a collapsible baton like the one depicted in video in which he appears at the Capitol, remarks, “What Patriots do? We [expletive] disarm them and then we storm [expletive] the Capitol.”

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Two Massachusetts Residents Charged in Connection with Capitol Breach,” there is explicit mention of one of those charged posting to Twitter.  There is no mention of Parler.

Photos posted on a Twitter account connected to Super Happy Fun America show Sahady on a bus with other individuals with the caption, “Bus 1 of 11 coming to Washington DC. See you there!”

According to the criminal complaint, Ianni is also involved with “Super Happy Fun America.” The complaint alleges that Ianni organized buses for Super Fun Happy America to transport individuals to Washington D.C. for the January 6, 2021 event. Ianni is pictured alongside Sahady in the bus photo on Twitter.

Documents Referencing Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

Most of the DOJ press releases include attached affidavits, statements of fact, or indictments; where there are such attachments, I have searched these documents as well for the following: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Parler.

In the DOJ press release entitled, “New Mexico County Commissioner Charged for Breaching U.S. Capitol,” there is explicit mention of Facebook.  There is no mention of Parler.

As alleged in the charging documents, on Jan. 9, 2021, law enforcement received a tip that Griffin, an Otero County, New Mexico, Commissioner was present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and had posted videos to his Facebook page indicating that he intended to return to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2021, and “plant our flag” on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

An investigation into Griffin revealed that he is the founder of an organization called “Cowboys for Trump,” and that following the incident at the U.S. Capitol, Griffin posted a video to the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page in which he stated that he “climbed up on the top of the Capitol building and . . . had a first row seat.”

Following are excerpts from the affidavit (link to download pdf) mentioning social media, specifically Facebook:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355996/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355996/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355996/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Kentucky Man Arrested and Charged in Federal Court for Actions at the U.S. Capitol,” there is no direct mention of any particular social media platform; however, the attached “statement of fact” (link to download pdf) explicitly mentions posts to both YouTube and Facebook.  There is no mention of Parler.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355966/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355966/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Connecticut Man Charged with Assaulting an Officer During U.S. Capitol Breach,” YouTube is mentioned.  There is no mention of Parler.

As alleged in the charging documents, on Jan. 6, 2021, a video posted to YouTube captured a large group of rioters attempting to break through the line of uniformed law enforcement officers who were in place to prevent rioters from entering the lower west terrace door of the United States Capitol. In the front line of rioters, an individual, who has subsequently been identified as McCaughey can be seen using a clear police riot shield to physically push against the left side of an officer’s body.

In the attached affidavit, Twitter is mentioned in addition to YouTube.  There is no mention of Parler.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1357206/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1357206/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1357206/download

The section entitled, “Detailed Timeline of Key Events” (pp. 12-20), lives up to its name and is a meticulously prepared timeline that references YouTube in every paragraph because it goes through a particular video (referred to as YouTube Video 1).

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Utah Man Charged in Federal Court Following Events at the United States Capitol,” there is no mention of any social media site; however, in the attached affidavit (link to download pdf), YouTube is mentioned and other, unnamed social media accounts referenced. There is no mention of Parler.

This is the report on John Earle Sullivan, who has “a history of organizing violent antifa/BLM protests” and is known to have used both Twitter and Instagram for his activities.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1354916/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1354916/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Two Delaware Men Charged in Federal Court Following Events at the United States Capitol,” there is no mention of social media; however, the attached “statement of fact” (link to download pdf) explicitly mentions posts to Twitter.  There is no mention of Parler.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1354306/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Three Men Charged in Connection with Events at U.S. Capitol,” Facebook is mentioned.

It is alleged that on Jan. 6, 2021, Evans, a recently elected member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, streamed live to his Facebook page a video of himself joining and encouraging a crowd unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol. In the video, Evans is allegedly seen crossing the threshold of the doorway into the U.S. Capitol and shouting, “We’re in, we’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

In the attached documents, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are mentioned.  There is no mention of Parler.

From the Evans affidavit (link to download pdf):

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1351946/download

Facebook is then repeatedly referenced, with posts quoted at length.  This section goes on for several pages.

In the attached Chansley statement of fact (link to download pdf), Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all mentioned.  There is no mention of Parler.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1351941/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1351941/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Two Men Charged in Connection with Events at U.S. Capitol,” there is no mention of any social media outlet; however, in the Munchel affidavit, Facebook is mentioned.  There is no mention of Parler.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1352221/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Two Off-Duty Virginia Police Officers Charged in Federal Court Following Events at the U.S. Capitol,” Facebook is mentioned.  There is no mention of Parler.

On social media, Robertson is quoted as saying, “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business … The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” He also stated that he was “proud” of the photo on an Instagram post that was shared to Facebook, because he was “willing to put skin in the game.” On Facebook, Fracker posted a comment that read, “Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around… Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y’all do what you feel you need to.” The post has since been deleted.

And in the attached statement of facts, Facebook is again mentioned repeatedly (link to download pdf).  There is no mention of Parler.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1353461/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Seven Charged in Federal Court Following Events At the United Capitol,” there is no mention of social media; however, in two of the attached documents, there are mentions of Twitter and Facebook.  There is no mention of Parler.

From the Packer affidavit (link to download pdf):

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/seven-charged-federal-court-following-events-united-capitol

From the Mostofsky statement of fact (link to download pdf):

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1353206/download

Documents Referencing Parler

Following are the DOJ press releases and, where applicable, relevant screenshots from the attached documents.

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Three Individuals Affiliated with the Oath Keepers Indicted in Federal Court for Conspiracy to Obstruct Congress on Jan. 6, 2021,” Facebook and Parler are mentioned.

The press release mentions that a criminal complaint (filed Jan. 19) alleges that planning took place on both Facebook and Parler, including a photo taken inside the Capitol posted to Parler, so there may be further evidence found on Parler that was not included in the indictment (filed Jan. 27) for whatever reason.

According to the criminal complaint filed on Jan. 19, on Jan. 6, the three documented their participation and whereabouts in or around the U.S. Capitol on social media. Caldwell posted messages on Facebook such as, “We are surging forward. Doors breached[.]” and at 3:05 p.m. posted just, “Inside.” Watkins posted photos of herself, and with Crowl, on her Parler account and captioned a photo by stating, “Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal2 #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia.” Subsequently, she posted a video of herself inside the Capitol captioned, “Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today. Teargassed, the whole, 9. Pushed our way into the Rotunda. Made it into the Senate even. The news is lying (even Fox) about the Historical Events we created today.”

In the attached indictment, Facebook is mentioned frequently, and Parler is mentioned once in order to provide an individual’s profile description.  Following are screenshots from the indictment (link to download pdf).

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1361086/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1361086/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1361086/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1361086/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1361086/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1361086/download

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Texas Man Arrested and Charged With Making Threats Regarding Events at the U.S. Capitol,” Parler is the only social media site mentioned by name.

The affidavit in support of criminal complaint alleges that Smocks traveled to the Washington, D.C., area on January 5, 2021, the day before the illegal rioting. Smocks used a Parler social media account under the name “ColonelTPerez” or “@Colonel007,” to post threats on January 6 and 7 regarding the riots. The threats included that he and others would return to the U.S. Capitol on January 19, 2021, carrying weapons and massing in numbers so large that no army could match them. Smocks threatened that he and others would “hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are,” specifically threatening “RINOS, Dems, and Tech Execs.” The threats issued by Smocks were viewed by other social media users tens of thousands of times.

The attached affidavit (link to download pdf) makes one mention of YouTube and contains a diatribe against Parler that is notable for its lack of professionalism.  It’s author, Jeff Janczyk is, according to the affidavit, a Detective Sergeant with the Metropolitan Police in DC, rather than with the FBI/DOJ.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355371/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355371/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355371/downloadInterestingly, the affidavit then generically references “another social media and electronic communication site.”

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355371/download

Note that no other press release or document rails against Parler or any of the other social media platforms used by the defendants.

Document Generically Referencing Social Media

One DOJ press release failed to name the social media or other source/s for evidence used in the charging documents.

In the DOJ press release entitled, “Rochester, New York Man Arrested and Charged with Destroying Property and Obstruction of Congressional Proceedings,” there is no mention of social media.

The attached affidavit (link to download pdf) fails to mention any social media source by name.  The references are to “publicly available photographs and video” and later refers to the sites to which these were posted as “open source.”

https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355736/downloadhttps://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/press-release/file/1355736/download

Still a third reference is to a “video posted on social media.’

https://www.justice.gov/opa/page/file/1355186/download

Many people might read this affidavit (and do click over and read it in full) and cringe at its lack of specifics regarding the precise social media sources for the evidence provided, and these people might conclude that Special Agent Melissa Ammons—who (presumably) wrote and most definitely signed this affidavit—is, at best, incompetent.

Those people may not be wrong, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t the wave of the future.  Expect Janczyk’s nonspecific “social media” and Ammons’ “open source” waffling to become the default reference to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as we move into our brave new Orwellian world in which relatively small, but promising, competition to the big three are shut down ostensibly for providing a platform for the Capitol rioters to plan and post their activities.

Conclusion

Parler has been demonized and deplatformed. Yet as we can see from these DOJ press releases and associated documents, those individuals charged so far relied far more heavily on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter than they did on Parler.  As Professor Jacobson succinctly noted, “The claim that Parler represents some unique risk to public safety is a lie driven by politics,” and these DOJ reports released so far bear that out.

 

 
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