“‘Stop the Steal’ supporters, restrained by Facebook, turn to Parler to peddle false election claims”


The leader of a Facebook group demanding an election recount told members this weekend he was worried about a crackdown by the social media giant.

“The bigger we get, the more nervous I’m getting,” the administrator of Nationwide Recount 2020 posted to the group’s hundreds of thousands of followers. “I do not want to lose this MAGA army!”Follow the latest on Election 2020

His backup plan “in case we disappear?” Find him on the right-leaning social media site Parler, instead.

As President Trump and his allies continue to contest President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, social media has become central to sustaining efforts to delegitimize the results. Yet those campaigns — which spilled onto the streets in protests this weekend — are resulting in the most high-stakes cat-and-mouse game for Facebook and other social media companies to date. The companies are banning groups and hashtags, altering search results, labeling posts, down-ranking problematic content and implementing a host of measures to ward off misinformation.

Since the election, Facebook and Twitter have labeled over a dozen posts by Trump and penalized some of his high-ranking campaign members and at least one family member. Facebook also took down a “Stop the Steal” network, which promoted dozens of stories with unfounded claims of voter fraud, tied to Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon late Monday.

One sign of the impact of these actions is the renewed interest in Parler, which became the top new app download during the weekend on Apple’s App Store. The app, which has a free-speech doctrine and has become a haven for groups and individuals kicked off Facebook, experienced its largest number of single-day downloads on Nov. 8, when about 636,000 people installed it, according to market research firm Sensor Tower. Parler now boasts 7.6 million user accounts compared with 4.5 million about a week ago, said chief operating officer and investor Jeffrey Wernick.


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