Parler Is Just a Symptom of a Much Bigger Problem
Congress asked the FBI to investigate the app’s role in promoting ‘civil unrest’ in the U.S. — but the entire social media ecosystem demands scrutiny
The House Oversight and Reform Committee chair demanded on Thursday that the FBI “conduct a robust examination” of Parler and its alleged role in the Capitol riots on January 6, which resulted in the deaths of five individuals and for which hundreds of people are being investigated by the Justice Department.
In a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray published by the Washington Post, the committee’s chairwoman and New York Representative Carolyn Maloney asked the agency to consider Parler as “a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States.”
Parler isn’t the only tech company accused by Congress of facilitating violence and coordinated civil unrest. But the committee’s focus on Parler ignores how the larger social media ecosystem amplifies and spreads hate. Already, “Parler refugees” — themselves likely refugees from mainstream platforms like Facebook that have recently clamped down on far-right groups — have migrated to Telegram and MeWe, and will likely turn to other lesser known sites should they be restricted or deplatformed there. It’s an exceedingly difficult moderation challenge.
Researchers studying disinformation online have told OneZero that Facebook and Twitter carry some responsibility for the abuse running rampant on niche sites
In her letter, Maloney never mentioned these sites or the role of companies such as Facebook and Twitter in housing far-right communities prior to recent moderation efforts that led to their exodus to Parler and other alternative platforms. Researchers studying disinformation online have told OneZero that Facebook and Twitter carry some responsibility for the abuse running rampant on niche sites, and should be obligated to share cross-platform moderation…