Parler was the rising alternative to Twitter following Twitter’s recent purge of President Trump and thousands of conservative users. That was until January, 10, when it was nuked from orbit by its web host, Amazon.
Hours before Parler was taken offline, I thought I might check in on Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter back in July of 2016, for his thoughts on the subject. Mainstream conservatives turned their back on the flamboyantly gay right-wing provocateur, just as they would when Alex Jones was banned in 2018. They didn’t understand at the time that these gadflies were the canaries in the coal mine. They didn’t realize they’d be next.
I found Milo on Parler, joyously counting down the minutes before the platform would cease to exist.
It wasn’t that Milo had decided to oppose free speech. It was just Milo being Milo. I can’t quote him verbatim, since Parler is offline, but the essence of his comments was that the Parler community was insufferably boring and miserable, and the world would be a better place without it.
I can’t blame Milo for not defending the company’s principled stance on free speech, when nobody of significance had stood up for his.
And his point about the quality of content on Parler was well taken. Since Parler’s downfall, the new (though actually older) alternative is Gab, which appears to have a similar user base. Just look at its home page. It is completely dominated by right-wing posts.
“What’s wrong with that?” you might ask.
The problem is that these alternative platforms for hard-core free speech advocates and refugees from Big Tech’s platforms are never going to achieve ubiquity among “normal” people.
Most people–normal people, i.e. not people like you and me–joined Facebook to keep up with friends and family. “Non-political” people, which are the huge majority, aren’t affected dramatically by social media censorship, and they’re not going to switch to a new platform unless it becomes more socially relevant to them than the ones they currently use.
Even people like me find value in Facebook precisely because I can reach people that aren’t in my club of right-wing politicos. I use Facebook for nothing more than posting political snark, but at least that snark is occasionally seen by family and friends that disagree with me. It provides me the opportunity to engage in discussion and debate with some (admittedly small) hope of changing people’s minds.
From a political perspective, isn’t that the whole point of social media? To engage people that don’t agree with you? To share information with those that otherwise wouldn’t hear it?
If every conservative voice departs the mainstream networks like Facebook and Twitter for our own, what would it accomplish?
It would create a massive echo chamber of like-minded people, who don’t reach anyone else. There’s a very vulgar but very appropriate term for this sort of thing.
At the same time, a conservative exodus from the mainstream networks would only serve to compound the effect of censorship. The loss of banned (and shadow-banned) voices is compounded by those that no longer bother to post in the first place.
The result is that the only political news and commentary on mainstream platforms is the left’s. Our own non-participation only makes a bad problem worse.
“So, what do you suggest we do for speech online?”
I guess it depends on your relationship to social media. If you’re an “influencer” or a political campaign, maybe Gab and other “free speech” platforms will work for your purposes.
But if you’re just a regular person expressing your views, and you haven’t been kicked off of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., you might as well continue to use them to reach your friends and family you won’t find elsewhere.
But here’s my recommendation for everyone: Reclaim the most important social network: The Real World.
The forces of domination and control — Big Tech, Big Media, the Democrats — they want to destroy real-world communities and real-world relationships. That is the lockdown agenda.
“Social distancing” is an oxymoron. “Social network” is an oxymoron.
These are profoundly anti-social creations.
Yeah yeah, Covid is bad. Vulnerable people should take proper precautions. But the destruction of humanity is far worse.
Don’t look to “alternative” social media platforms for any kind of salvation. They don’t translate to political results anyway, if that’s your goal.
Get back into the real world. Lead by example. Defy our evil government and double down on your efforts to get people together in the real world.
That’s the only way we are going to overcome the antisocial agenda, which is much bigger and more pernicious than just Big Tech.