In letter to House Oversight Committee, Parler rejects the “coordinated and widespread disinformation campaign designed to scapegoat Parler” for Capitol Hill Riot, “Parler even alerted law enforcement to specific threats of violence being planned at the Capitol.”
Parler was made a scapegoat for the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill Riot. As we have explored many times, the attempt to blame Parler was in bad faith and contradicted by the Department of Justice’s own criminal charging documents which focused much more heavily on organizing activity on Facebook and Twitter.
- The claim that Parler represents some unique risk to public safety is a lie driven by politics
- Parler Vindicated: Study Finds Facebook ‘Far and Away’ Most Used Social Media By Capitol Hill Rioters
- Still More DOJ Charging Documents Show Facebook — Not Parler — Most Used By Capitol Hill Rioters
Exploiting this dishonest frenzy, Apple and Google removed Parler from their App Stores, then Amazon Web Services delivered the most damaging blow, kicking Parler off the AWS hosting service. Smaller but essential companies also refused to do business with Parler, including companies that provide SMS verification necessary for registration, and a host of other services. Parler had to rebuild this entire “stack” of services.
Parler was offline for a month, and has managed to come back, but the damage is lasting. Legal Insurrection had almost 400,000 followers on Parler before the deplatforming, and we received much more interaction and traffic than from Twitter. We still have that following, but interaction is way down. We know from experience that Parler’s vibrancy of community is not what it was. That may take many more months, if it ever returns.
Democrat politicians have been trying to get federal law enforcement to take Parler down now. Rep. Caroline Maloney, Democrat Chair of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the FBI investigate Parler:
The head of the House oversight committee asked the FBI on Thursday to conduct a review of the social media platform Parler, which advertises itself as an alternative to more mainstream sites that have banned some far-right extremists.
The committee’s chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., wrote to FBI Director Chris Wray asking him to look at how Parler was used before and during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol when pro-Trump extremists stormed the building as Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election.
“Numerous Parler users have been arrested and charged with threatening violence against elected officials or for their role in participating directly in the January 6 attacks,” Maloney wrote.
Parler has responded to the Oversight Committee, rejecting the accusations.
Parler’s Letter (pdf.) to Maloney provided, in part:
There is no truth to the absurd conspiracy theories that have been put forth by Big Tech and its media allies to unfairly malign the Company and which were referenced in the Committee’s Letter. Contrary to what has been reported, and as explained in more detail below: the Company is and always has been American-owned and controlled; Parler has never engaged in any collusion with “the Russians”; and Parler never offered President Donald J. Trump an ownership interest in the Company.
The Committee’s interest in Parler appears to stem from a coordinated and widespreaddisinformation campaign designed to scapegoat Parler for the riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and to justify Big Tech’s unlawful and anticompetitive decision to de-platform Parler just when Parler was beginning to grow in size and strength, thereby presenting a viable threat to Big Tech’s stranglehold on social media. As Big Tech companies have become more brazen in their politically biased censorship,1 Americans have grown increasingly alarmed and distrustful of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, abandoning them for Parler’s refreshingly hands-off and viewpoint-neutral approach to political speech. By November 2020, Parler was the primary beneficiary of this shift away from the corporate Big Tech oligarchs, and Parler was in fact the most downloaded app on Apple’s U.S. App Store and on Google’s U.S. Play Store, becoming more popular than TikTok, Zoom, and YouTube.2
By the end of 2020, Parler was the tenth most downloaded app for the year, and Parler again boasted the most downloaded app on January 8, 2021, the day after Facebook and Twitter banned President Trump from their platforms.3 Parler’s rising popularity made the Company a competitive threat to the likes of Twitter and Facebook—Big Tech giants which use manipulative algorithms to drive traffic and derive enormous profits from digital advertising. And that threat grew very real in late 2020 and early 2021, when Parler was poised for even more explosive growth given the widespread expectation that President Trump would move his social media presence to Parler, bringing many of his 90 million followers with him.4
So, together, the Big Tech companies colluded with Amazon5 to destroy Parler and used the horrific attacks on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 as a shameful excuse.6 …
The Wall Street Journal reports how Parler says that while it was not the hub of organizing, it did alert the FBI to threats:
Parler in December began alerting the bureau to content suggesting the possibility of violence at the Capitol as Congress met to confirm President Biden’s victory, the company wrote in a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating Parler and its role in the siege.
The social-media site referred a number of posts to law enforcement, including one on Dec. 24 from a user who called for an “armed force” of 150,000 people to “react to the congressional events of January 6,” according to the letter, which included the post and communications with FBI officials among its exhibits and has been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Parler said it forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Jan. 2 a series of posts from a user saying he would be wearing body armor to the pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6. “It’s no longer a protest,” Parler quoted the post as saying. “This is a final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill. I trust the American people will take back the USA with force and many are ready to die to take back #USA.”
In another post, a Parler user made clear that armed people would be at the Capitol that day, saying “they may be concealed at first but if congress does the wrong thing expect real chaos because Trump needs us to cause chaos to enact the #insurrectionact.”
The FBI declined to comment. FBI officials have repeatedly said they had no specific, credible threats about violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and had shared information they had as quickly as possible with other law-enforcement agencies. “What we did not have, as far as I can tell, is any indication that hundreds and hundreds of people were going to breach the U.S. Capitol,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told NPR last week.
The torrent of online and social-media communications also makes it difficult to distinguish online bravado from genuine threats, law-enforcement officials have said.
“These referrals represent only a fraction of the dozens of posts with violent rhetoric that Parler collected and forwarded to the FBI for investigation in the days leading up to January 6th,” lawyers representing Parler, Michael S. Dry and Ephraim “Fry” Wernick, wrote in the letter. The platform continued to report posts after the attack, they added.
Parler, in its letter, wrote about cooperation with the FBI (emphasis in original):
Parler now writes to set the record straight and provide new information about the positive role Parler played in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th, which should finally put an end to the spurious allegations against the Company. Everyone knows that Parler stands proudly for the fundamental American values of freedom of speech and expression. However, Parler has always recognized that there are legal limitations on free speech. The Company has acted to remove incitement and threats of violence from its platform and did so numerous times in the days before the unlawful rioting at the Capitol. As Parler grew substantially in the latter half of 2020, the Company took the extraordinary initiative to develop formal lines of communication with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) to facilitate proactive cooperation and referrals of violent threats and incitement to law enforcement. In fact, in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th, Parler referred violent content from its platform to the FBI for investigation over 50 times, and Parler even alerted law enforcement to specific threats of violence being planned at the Capitol.7
This email was included in the Parler letter:
Footnote 8 to the letter provides details on Parler’s ownership, specifically deunking claims of Russian ownership:
Your February 8, 2021 letter requests a capitalization table providing for ownership interests in Parler; a list of individuals and entities with control over Parler; and a list of Parler creditors who hold or held at least $10,000 of debt. See Committee Letter at 2 (Request Nos. 1-3). The capitalization table is attached as Ex. B. Parler is owned by NDMascendent, LLC (“NDM”), which is owned and controlled by Rebekah Mercer. Other owners include Bongino, Inc., which Parler understands to be owned and controlled by Dan Bongino, and 13 past and present employees of the Company, none of whom is Russian. Parler is currently controlled by Rebekah Mercer and interim CEO Mark Meckler. Parler was also formerly controlled by former CEO John Matze. We understand that Parler’s current and past creditors are: Rebekah Mercer, who holds two notes in her name valued at approximately $5,000,071 with an interest rate of 2.5% and scheduled maturity dates of September 4, 2021 and February 22, 2022; a note in NDM’s name valued at $750,000 with an interest rate of 6%; and two passive investment vehicles which hold convertible notes with a principal amount outstanding of $1,355,000, with an interest rate of 6% and scheduled maturity dates falling on December 20, 2021, June 8, 2022, June 10, 2022, June 11, 2022, June 15, 2022, June 16, 2022, June 24, 2022, June 25, 2022, June 26, 2022, June 29, 2022, July 28, 2022, and November 2, 2022. Jeffrey Wernick is the managing member of one of the passive investment vehicles. According to Mr. Wernick, the passive investment vehicles have never had any Russian members and are not otherwise subject to the control of any Russian individual or entity. See Ex. C (affidavit of Jeffrey Wernick).
House Republicans on the Oversight Committee came to Parler’s defense, issuing this statement:
House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) issued the following statement after Parler exposed Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney’s blatantly partisan and baseless attacks against the company:
“Today Parler fully debunked Chairwoman Maloney’s claims as not only baseless, but outrageous and entirely fictitious. Democrats and their Big Tech allies have sought to exploit the January 6 riot to further muzzle certain viewpoints while blatantly ignoring other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, for their role in the riot. Republicans called out this hypocrisy and requested Chairwoman Maloney to expand her probe, but she refused. Parler’s response to Chairwoman Maloney exposes the Democrats’ overreach and debunks their wild conspiracy theories about the platform. Democrats must cease their overtly partisan efforts to target certain speech and undermine Americans’ First Amendment rights.”
Earlier this year, Chairwoman Maloney called on the FBI to investigate Parler for its role in the attack on the Capitol but ignored the role other social media platforms played. Ranking Member Comer and Congressman Greg Steube (R-Fla.) wrote to Chairwoman Maloney demanding she amend her FBI request to include the other tech platforms, but she never did.
At Legal Insurrection Foundation’s event on Surviving The Big Tech Purge, held while Parler was still deplatformed, Parler’s Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff described how Parler was attempting to rebuild:
Mark Meckler, Acting CEO of Parler and a friend, provided me with this statement as to the impact the deplatforming had on Parler’s business:
“ The total deplatforming of Parler by Big Tech is an unprecedented event in modern history. Unless you’ve had to rebuild a tech stack from the ground up it’s hard to understand the enormity of the undertaking. People focus on Amazon, Apple and Google, but there are also smaller vendors of a variety of service who also acted in concert. Parler is back, and we will continue to build and grow far back beyond our former size and scope. We are and intend to continue to be the world’s premier free speech platform.”
The takedown of Parler over a pack of lies by Big Tech serving the interests of Democrats is one of the most deceitful and dangerous acts of internet censorship we have ever seen outside of a totalitarian country.DONATE
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