“Thus Jan. 6, for all of its horrible events, offered a convenient and successful excuse by which Big Tech could solve its Parler problem—even though the DOJ charging documents have now made clear that Parler’s role was minor.”
The big lie foisted on the public to excuse Apple and Google removing the Parler app and then later for Amazon booting Parler off its website hosting platform continues to unravel.
The big lie was based on the fact that a lot of conservatives had flocked to Parler, making it the first viable Twitter competitor. This point was downplayed in favor of the fear-mongering lunacy that any place the right gathered, there just had to be plots of and plans for violence against the Capitol . . . after all, these American Firsters and their Constitution-loving cohorts are known wrongthinkers. And stuff.
The problem, however, is that, as DOJ investigations into the events at the Capitol on January 6th unfolded, the primary social media platform used by those involved, including most recently by alleged Oath Keepers, was Facebook. With Twitter and Instagram ranking high, and Parler barely registering—and not at all among the Oath Keepers charging documents.
Here at LI, we have covered the DOJ arrest reports and their clear findings that Facebook was the primary social platform used by the Capitol ‘rioters.’
- Capitol Hill Riot: DOJ Arrest Reports Focus On Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Barely Mention Parler
- Parler Vindicated: Study Finds Facebook ‘Far and Away’ Most Used Social Media By Capitol Hill Rioters
The DOJ has apparently found some alleged Oath Keepers whom they are charging with a range of crimes (nothing close to treason or insurrection). The documents are revealing not only in the ludicrously unserious ‘planning’ of an ‘insurrection’ but in the venue on which this almost comical ‘planning’ took place: Facebook.
Looking at Oath Keepers indictment specifically, there are 14 mentions of Facebook, 0 mentions of Parler. Facebook appears to have been their planning/discussion forum. https://t.co/FeNOc81BqR https://t.co/SdRYbGvFzB pic.twitter.com/tkWJ8Rcht9
— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 22, 2021
The Oath Keepers are visible in many photos from the riot. They were dressed in military-style outfits and pushed their way up the Capitol steps in what is called a “stack” formation. (It does not appear that they were the ones who initially broke into the building.) The indictment shows what they were saying to each other on social media in the days and weeks before the riot. Read together, their social media posts suggest people living in a kind of fantasy world in which they could take the Capitol, while carefully obeying Washington, D.C.’s strict gun control laws and carrying no firearms, change the course of U.S. history, and then head home.
The social media posts suggest that some of the Oath Keepers thought Trump was specifically calling on them to storm the Capitol. For example, on Dec. 19, 2020, when Trump tweeted, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6. Be there, will be wild!” it appears they took that as Trump telling them specifically to make it “wild” through paramilitary action.
I, and millions of other normal people who voted for Trump, heard the same thing and shrugged, knowing that the Biden win election results were going to be confirmed. Not these people. They hopped on Facebook, not Parler, to discuss the dog whistle only they could hear.
The Washington Examiner continues:
“Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!!” defendant Kelly Meggs wrote on Facebook on Dec. 22, 2020. “It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us tomakeitwild!!!! SirYesSir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your shit!!” (All the quotations from the Oath Keepers’ social media posts include their original punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.)
The Oath Keepers discussed among themselves whether they should bring guns to the event. On Dec. 25, Meggs wrote on Facebook, “We are all staying in DC near the Capitol we are at the Hilton garden inn but I think it’s full. Dc is no guns. So mace and gas masks, some batons. If you have armor that’s good.” A few days later, on Dec. 31, Meggs wrote, “You guys gonna carry? Ok, we aren’t either, we have a heavy QRF 10 min out though.” By QRF, Meggs apparently meant a “quick reaction force” that would be stationed nearby and be ready to support the Oath Keepers whenever needed. On Jan. 3, defendant Jessica Watkins, a transgender female who served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, wrote to another defendant, Bennie Parker: “We are not bringing firearms. QRF will be our law enforcement members of Oathkeepers.” Parker responded: “Good to know.”
So the Oath Keepers would take the Capitol basically unarmed. Indeed, the indictment states that on Jan. 6 the group “prepared themselves for battle before heading to the Capitol by equipping themselves with communication devices and donning reinforced vests, helmets, and goggles.” It does not allege that they took weapons to the Capitol and certainly not guns. In another part of the indictment describing the defendants’ methods, prosecutors said they brought to the Capitol “paramilitary gear and supplies — including camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection, and radio equipment.” Again, no mention of weapons. The Oath Keepers’ idea, apparently, was that if there was trouble, they would be backed up by the quick reaction force.
. . . . But who was going to be in the force? There was vague talk of buses full of Oath Keepers arriving outside Washington to back up the small group at the Capitol. But nothing was specific. At one point, Caldwell mentioned a person, not charged and referred to as “Person Three” in the indictment, who was trying to book a room at the Comfort Inn in Ballston, Virginia, right across the Potomac from the District of Columbia. Caldwell wrote that Person Three chose the hotel, with its easy access to town, “because he feels 1) he’s too broken down to be on the ground all day and 2) he is committed to being the quick reaction force and bringing the tools if something goes to hell.”
That was the QRF? A guy who wasn’t up to spending all day in Washington, so he was going to hang around the Comfort Inn in Ballston unless he was needed to overthrow the U.S. government?
Taken together, the court papers portray the Oath Keepers as a ragtag group living in a delusional world, planning a delusional operation to bring about some sort of delusional outcome. They imagined themselves saving the country with their reinforced vests, helmets, and goggles. It would be the understatement of the year to say that they had not thought things through.
It would be comical if it weren’t somehow so very real to these people, but whatever their delusions, the one thing we know for sure is that they were doing all this on Facebook. And Twitter. And Instagram. Not on Parler, at least not enough to merit even a single mention in the DOJ’s Oath Keeper charging documents, yet it was Parler who was wrongly lambasted, wrongly judged, and wrongly deplatformed.
It’s been more than a month since the app stores of Google and Apple joined forces with Amazon Web Services to knee-cap an upstart competitor, Parler. The stated reasoning was Parler’s lack of content moderation policies, which Apple, in particular, claimed led to Parler’s use as a forum to “plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.”
This reasoning was confidently repeated across the corporate press. “The Capitol mob began organizing . . . on platforms like Parler and Gab,” Vox asserted. Planning for the “mob violence that descended on the U.S. Capitol . . . took place openly on websites popular with far-right conspiracy theorists,” National Public Radio proclaimed. Facebook shut down Stop the Steal groups, said The New York Times, so planning moved to Parler and Gab.
“These events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate and don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency,” sniffed Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.
. . . . Was Parler involved? Yes. Was the platform the virtual Bat Cave of Incitement and Violence that Apple, Google, Amazon, and thoroughly un-critical press reporting made it out to be? Hardly. If any single platform can be fingered as the favorite of the rioters, it appears to be Facebook.
Yet Facebook remains unmolested by the respective app stores and is suffering no critiques from opportunistic politicians. Somehow, Facebook—which, in 2018, was used to facilitate a genocide in Myanmar, and still can’t manage to stop ISIS from circulating recruitment materials—is Teflon in the face of the same charges that take down competitors like Parler, one of the very few Big Tech alternatives that has managed to break through to mainstream status.
As noted by the Federalist, Parler’s primary ‘sin’ appears to be its success; Parler was booming, attracting millions of users and threatening to undermine Big Tech’s control of the leftwing-approved, correct think narrative.
Meanwhile, by working together to silence viewpoints and dissent across multiple platforms, Big Tech can effectively remove the ability of entire groups of people to engage and persuade in the public square.
That is, until Parler. Parler was able to do what no other alternative to Big Tech has been: achieve mainstream status as a viable competitor. By operating its platform in a more First Amendment-friendly way, Parler threatened to upend the Big Tech speech cartel.
That was never supposed to happen. This was obvious in the way the Big Tech-financed “build your own” crowd responded to Parler: first by mercilessly mocking its entrance to the market, then by nodding approvingly at the pretext used for its demise. It was also obvious when Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, Parler’s most direct competitor, tweeted a heart emoji of thanks when Parler no longer appeared in Apple’s app store.
Big Tech doesn’t want market competition. But they also don’t want competition for information and narrative control. Conservatives reaching critical mass on another platform just cannot be allowed. Thus Jan. 6, for all of its horrible events, offered a convenient and successful excuse by which Big Tech could solve its Parler problem—even though the DOJ charging documents have now made clear that Parler’s role was minor.
Indeed, at this point and given the outsized role Facebook (Twitter, YouTube, Instagram) played in the January 6th events at the Capitol, Apple, Google, and Amazon owe Parler a groveling apology.
Further, if deplatforming is really how we treat social media platforms that host such violent, ‘anti-Democracy’ plotting, then it’s time for Facebook (and Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram) to be treated the same way Parler was treated. They must be deplatformed.
After all Parler was deplatformed on mere theory and feelz, now that the evidence is in and it clearly demonstrates Facebook’s, Twitter’s, YouTube’s, and Instagram’s dominant role in the planning and organization (such as it was) of the Capitol riot, they should all be deplatformed, removed from the public sphere for the ‘crimes’ Big Tech assigned to Parler but for which DOJ documentation explicitly demonstrates these other sites are clearly guilty.
Otherwise, all we have here is a coordinated Big Tech effort to destroy a legal, viable social media competitor, and surely, that’s not what happened.DONATE
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