High profile Twitter and Facebook suspensions have right-wing platforms vying to become the alternative of choice. The competition is becoming fierce and contentious.
Over the weekend, Twitter permanently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) personal account for spreading COVID-19 disinformation. (Her congressional account has not been banned.) Greene’s suspension closely followed that of Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist who’d leapt to prominence in right-wing circles by sowing doubt and spreading disinformation about the COVID vaccine.
These and other suspensions, such as that of former President Donald Trump, have led to something of a feeding frenzy as right-wing social media companies vie to fill the void. The main contenders are Gab, Gettr, Parler, and Telegram. Truth Social, the platform Trump’s been teasing for months, may give them some competition if and when it ever launches.
On Sunday, Gettr scored a major win when far-right favorite Joe Rogan tweeted that he’d joined the platform and urged others to join him. Gettr was founded by former Trump aide Jason Miller last summer. It’s been something of a bit player since then. As of November, the site only had 3 million users. To put this in perspective, Twitter had more than 200 million; Telegram a half billion.
Greene also turned to Gettr in her time of needing a social media platform. In the past, Greene used Twitter to compare COVID restrictions to the Holocaust and feud with fellow Republicans. Malone similarly adopted Gettr following his Twitter ban. Both also have active Telegram channels, though only Greene’s is verified. Telegram has an issue with imposter accounts, so it’s possible that Malone’s channels aren’t authentic.
Others have followed them to Gettr.
Although both have been around longer than Gettr, Rogan’s endorsement gives the impression that Parler and Gab may be losing out.
Andrew Torba, founder of Gab, has responded by declaring war on his rival.
“The reality is Gab is absolutely exploding in influence and growth right now. The Regime is in panic mode. So out comes Grifter to distract the masses,” Torba posted on Sunday. (“Grifter” appears to be a reference to Gettr.)
“This is the second time they’ve tried to subvert our movement and they absolutely will fail again.”
Others have been taking sides in the battle to become the far-right’s platform of choice.
An issue that’s dividing internet conservatives into different camps is the types of content allowed on these platforms, including that which is offensive and/or abusive. Gab and Telegram have the closest to “anything goes” policies regarding content. As a result, people can say whatever racist or offensive thing they want, but conversely are often inundated with abuse or spam on these platforms.
For example, far-right figure Laura Loomer’s comments sections on Gab is rife with antisemitism. Loomer is Jewish. Many Telegram channels have complained about the proliferation of spam, such as porn and offers to buy cryptocurrency.
Fans of Gab have invoked this and Gettr’s policies to portray it as no different than mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
“Here’s Steve Bannon invoking the language of the left asking Jason Miller what Gettr is going to do about ‘hate speech,'” a right-wing channel wrote on Telegram Monday morning. “Jason says they will ban it using AI and human mods……..just like Big Tech does.”
In the attached clip, Miller was speaking to Bannon of how they planned to moderate hate speech and white supremacists’ content.
In the coming year, it will be interesting to see which of the four—Gab, Parler, Telegram, or Gettr—wins the battle to become the dominant platform of the far-right. Although they all may be usurped by Truth Social, provided it ever launches.
This post has been updated.
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