Eyes across the world may be on the newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden, but there are still 75 million Americans that voted for Donald Trump — and some of them will be looking for a digital soapbox to continue disputing the election.
The obvious focus for some Trump supporters over the past three weeks has been the ban of their standard bearer from Twitter following the Capitol insurrection. Twitter suspended Trump’s account and either punted or amended other accounts the former president was attempting to use to rally his followers.
This marked an exodus from Twitter to other social media platforms where Trump loyalists have been able to rant without having posts deleted or be subject to warnings.
Conservative social media platform Parler was an obvious congregation point given its lower level of moderation and an existing following among prominent conservative commentators, but Apple and Google play removed the application from their stores and Amazon kicked it off its servers.
Parler has since found a new home, and chief executive officer John Matze expects to be back up by the end of the month.
Telegram is one of several messaging or social media services to benefit from Parler’s misfortunes, and now boasts more than 500 million users. Trump loyalists are able to post in public and private groups and also public channels. Some of the material in these dark corners where Trump supporters congregate for group therapy perpetuates the argument that the election was stolen.
Telegram, however, is not just a problem for the American political scene, because material related to the 2020 election and the “Stop the Steal” movement is being disseminated in different languages.
A German QAnon-affiliated channel, for example, offers up a video of an interview with Sidney Powell, the lawyer who rose to prominence in recent months for her ardent support of Trump.
Another Twitter alternative with a Christian conservative twist is GAB, where users are celebrating the absence of moderator remarks on posts made about the 2020 election. The platform recently boasted that it had added 3 million new users in less than two weeks.
Conservative commentator Raheem Kassam has asserted GAB is better to use than Twitter. “And no, to the FBI agent reading this, that doesn’t mean I support everything people say on Gab,” he posted yesterday. “But I will defend to the death their right to shitpost.”
A pivot in the narrative of Trump supporters began to emerge on GAB in the days leading up to this morning’s inauguration ceremony, as users mocked the deployment of 25,000 members of the national guard along with 2750 active duty troops.
“STUPID Joe Biden Inauguration! They are replacing People with Flags SO why do need 30k troops to protect Joe Biden From a bunch of Flags ??” one GAB poster wrote.
Social media platforms are not the only places where people congregate and share views. Right-wing groups such as the Oath Keepers that were involved in the Capitol insurrection have their own membership sites that nurture an extreme nationalistic view among members.
There is a members’ forum on the Oath Keepers’ site and a store that sells body armour and other gear such as first aid kits.
A news section on the website include various items published over the past few months where Oath Keeper organisers were calling for volunteers to mobilise to provide security for rallies.
The Oath Keepers also promoted the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally on several occasions. And they’re unlikely to sit back and stay quiet for very long if their past news thread has any predictive value.