How do we prevent Trump from tweeting

Trump's Twitter off: This is known about Parler, Donald Trump's possible Twitter replacement

After more than 57,000 tweets, it's over. @realDonaldTrump has been a thing of the past Friday. The Twitter account, which had developed from a reality TV star's thought-slingshot to the virtual club of a US president, was just under twelve years old. On Friday, the short message service announced the permanent suspension of Donald Trump's account. The reason is a "risk of further incitement to violence". Trump then announced that, in his opinion, the SMS service did not stand for freedom of expression and that he was considering building "our own platform" shortly. "We are not being silenced!"

After banning his private Twitter account, Trump also shared his statement on the President's official Twitter account @POTUS (@President Of The United States) and his team's account @TeamTrump. Twitter deleted the tweets on @POTUS and blocked @TeamTrump as well. Since Facebook has also blocked Trump's account, the outgoing US president will be looking for new ways to share his thoughts and opinions with his followers and the rest of the world.

There are alternatives. Interest in alternative social networks - often in the more conservative and right-wing spectrum - has already grown significantly in the past few months. Among the alternative networks, Parler stands out in particular. Even if Donald Trump had to build a fan base here (Trump had around 89 million followers on Twitter), he should like the structure and target group of the US platform: Visually, Parler looks like a mixture of Twitter and Instagram. There is a main feed of news, a counter for followers, and ways to share posts and links. And: Parler is popular as a social network with conservatives and especially with Trump supporters, some of whom moved there after being banned from services like Twitter.

Twitter blocks the outgoing US President's account - permanently. While Donald Trump falls silent on Twitter and thinks about his own platform, the Democrats are trying to remove him from office.

The service describes itself as an “unbiased” medium that promotes freedom of speech and focuses on protecting user rights. Basically, the platform has only "two central community guidelines", as can be seen in the guidelines: It does not allow any knowingly criminal activities and it does not allow spam or bots on its platform. The lack of guidelines on hate speech has led racism and anti-Semitism to flourish on Parler. But Parler has been offline since Monday, Amazon has thrown the network from its servers. The reason: The contract between Amazon and Parler provided that the service must immediately delete posts with illegal content, such as calls for violence, if it learns about them. Parler has repeatedly failed to do so. The platform went to court with the demand to force Amazon to withdraw the termination by means of an injunction.

In the course of the US election in particular, Parler gained popularity. Probably also because people in Trump's environment had repeatedly advertised the platform as an alternative to Twitter or Facebook. White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Twitter around the end of June that she had set up an account with Parler because she was fed up with conservatives being “censored” on these platforms.

Shortly after the election, the New York Times reported that in the weeks after the US election, millions of conservatives switched to alternative social networks after the established platforms intensified their fact checks and tagged more and more posts with information or even deleted them. On the weekend after the US election, Parler jumped to number one on the download charts in Apple's app store, according to the US newspaper. While only around one million users were registered with Parler at the beginning of 2020, the network is now assigned more than ten million registered users.

These people are behind Parler

Who supports, finances and built up Parler is not clear down to the last detail. Well known: Parler was founded in 2018 by Rebekah Mercer, John Matze and Jared Thomson. Matze is the company's chief executive officer and Thomson is the company's chief technology officer. Both graduated from the University of Denver. The conservative Rebekah Mercer is considered a great investor - together with her father: the billionaire Robert Mercer. The hedge fund manager co-founded the now-defunct political data analytics company Cambridge Analytica. "John (Matze, editor's note) and I founded Parler to provide a neutral platform for freedom of speech, as our founders intended, and to create a social media environment that protects privacy, ”Mercer wrote in a statement on the platform. The "increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords" require someone to lead the "fight against data mining" and the protection of freedom of speech online. “Somebody's a parler,” Mercer continued. "A beacon for everyone who values ​​their freedom, freedom of speech and privacy."

The Mercers, father and daughter, are considered extremely conservatives and are prominent supporters of Donald Trump. Robert Mercer initially financed a Super-PAC for the Texan Senator Ted Cruz in the 2016 primary campaign, but then got fully involved in Donald Trump's campaign financing. Robert and Rebekah Mercer each donated millions to Trump's election campaign. According to the US news broadcaster, it should also have been daughter Rebekah Mercer who persuaded Trump to hire Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway for his campaign organization. She was also a member of the Executive Committee of Trump's Transition Team.

In addition, Mercer millions are in the expansion of the most widespread media platform of right-wing populist ideas: "Breitbart News", so that the family are even considered co-owners (together with Breitbart's widow and his co-founder Larry Solov).

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When asked how money could be made on Parler, CEO Matze described his plan to the US magazine "Forbes" last year as follows: Attract conservative influencers to the platform and bring them together with advertisers. In order to promote advertising, Matze hopes, according to Forbes, to be able to attract a large number of highly committed users who only communicate and consume messages in their own information world, like himself: “I've been on my own island on Parler for a while . I don't watch TV, I don't do anything, I get everything from Parler ", Matze is quoted by" Forbes ".

Apple and Google are targeting Parler

Apple, Amazon and Google also believe that Parler in particular could play a larger role among the critically eyed, sometimes violent and radical fan base of the outgoing US president. This can be seen in their reactions since Trump's Twitter accounts were suspended. According to their own statements, the US corporations had now taken a closer look at the activities of Trump supporters on the US platform. Their posts in the microblogging app were aimed at "inciting the ongoing violence in the US," said Google's parent company Alphabet on Friday. Since the app does not have the necessary regulations for dangerous content, the downloading of the news service is suspended until it is rectified. With that, Parler disappeared from the Google app store at the weekend.

Apple called on Parler on Friday to “remove all objectionable content from your app, as well as all content related to attacks on people or government institutions now or at a later date” within 24 hours. Parler had to submit a written plan "for moderating and filtering this content," said a letter to the company that the Reuters news agency was able to see. Apple cited contributions from users who are planning an armed protest in the US capital Washington. "Content that endangers the well-being of others or is intended to encourage violence or other lawless acts was never acceptable in the App Store," Apple said in the letter.

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When this period expired, Apple Parler also banned Parler from its app store until further notice. The platform violated the App Store conditions, it said in a message from Apple to Parler, about which the broadcaster CNN reported on Saturday evening (January 9th). "The processes that Parler has put in place to moderate or prevent the distribution of dangerous and illegal content have proven to be inadequate," complained Apple. In particular, direct threats of violence and calls to incite unlawful acts that violated the guidelines have continued to be found. Parler had been removed from the App Store until the problems were resolved.

Then on Saturday (January 9), Amazon also reacted and announced that it would exclude the social network from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) from 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. From then on, the news service will no longer be available as a web host. A day later, Parler could no longer be reached after Amazon, as a technical service provider, stopped working. The world's largest online retailer is also a leading provider of online infrastructure that many start-ups and established companies rely on. Parler sued Amazon Monday for the abrupt termination.

Parler CEO Matze criticized on his platform, according to CNN, that Apple would ban Parler "until we give up free speech, introduce broad and invasive guidelines like Twitter and Facebook and we become a surveillance platform". Parler is currently defending itself with a lawsuit against Amazon, arguing that the technology company's decision was politically motivated. Amazon intervenes with its approach in the competition between Parler and Twitter and violates US antitrust law. Amazon also rejected that on Thursday, stressing that Parler could not prove any violation of the competition rules.

According to US media reports, the violent protests by Trump supporters on Wednesday, which culminated in the storming of the Capitol in Washington, were largely organized via apps such as Parler. Jennifer Grygiel, a communication scholar and social media expert at Syracuse University, also saw the events at the Capitol as a direct result of Trump's use of online platforms to spread propaganda and misinformation. Social media are involved because Trump has repeatedly used social media to incite violence. On Twitter, at least, this has now come to an end permanently.

More on the subject: "America Has Always Been the Torch of Freedom": America's credibility on the world stage has suffered. Not just this week, says Gregory Meeks, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US House of Representatives.

With material from AP, dpa and Reuters

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