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Facebook’s role downplayed in Capitol mob attack

Rachel Bovard writes for the Federalist about an inconvenient set of facts for a social media giant.

It’s been more than a month since the app stores of Google and Apple joined forces with Amazon Web Services to knee-cap an upstart competitor, Parler. The stated reasoning was Parler’s lack of content moderation policies, which Apple, in particular, claimed led to Parler’s use as a forum to “plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.”

This reasoning was confidently repeated across the corporate press. “The Capitol mob began organizing . . . on platforms like Parler and Gab,” Vox asserted. Planning for the “mob violence that descended on the U.S. Capitol . . . took place openly on websites popular with far-right conspiracy theorists,” National Public Radio proclaimed. …

… The problem with all of this is that it turned out to be mostly wrong. Yes, Parler was used, in some form, to promote and discuss the violent aspects of Jan. 6. But so too were other major social media platforms—and in a much larger way than Parler.

The Department of Justice has now charged 223 people for their participation in the events of Jan. 6. A comprehensive analysis of those charging documents performed by Forbes demonstrate that Parler’s role was minimal, compared to that of Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Of the 223 charging documents, 73 reference posts on Facebook as evidence, 24 reference posts YouTube, 20 single out Instagram posts (owned by Facebook), and only eight highlight posts on Parler.

Was Parler involved? Yes. Was the platform the virtual Bat Cave of Incitement and Violence that Apple, Google, Amazon, and thoroughly un-critical press reporting made it out to be? Hardly. If any single platform can be fingered as the favorite of the rioters, it appears to be Facebook.

Yet Facebook remains unmolested by the respective app stores and is suffering no critiques from opportunistic politicians.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...