When Apple, Amazon and Google booted Parler from their platforms after last week’s deadly riot on Capitol Hill, users of the alternative social network favored by conservatives encouraged their followers to join the messaging app Telegram.
And they did.
In a public Telegram group chat with roughly 16,000 members, one user called Miguel urged supporters of President Donald Trump to return to DC to push baseless claims that the November vote was stolen from the president. “Guys, every Patriot to the White House on January 21st to protest election fraud,” the user posted to the chat, called Parler Lifeboat, referring to the day after the inauguration. Minutes later, another member using the name Michelle, chimed in to wave off fellow MAGA fans: “It’s [a] set up.”
The exchange and countless others like it represent a collision of conspiracy theories in the fevered world of pro-Trump support. psyop” designed to discredit conservatives even though the crazy conspiracy theory, which imagines that Trump is battling Satanic sex traffickers, prompts many supporters to attend his rallies. Protests organized to challenge the results of the election are traps laid by antifa, a loosely grouped anti-fascist movement, some conservatives say.is reported by some online observers to be a “
Disproven claims that votes were changed seem run-of-the-mill by comparison.
The bogus ideas emerged on social media sites big and small but are now moving to encrypted messaging apps following the Capitol Hill melee that left five people dead. But the move to smaller, private messaging groups has resulted in conflicting messages and a further splintering of right-wing groups online. Last week’s deadly riot happened after Trump whipped up his supporters at a promoted rally in DC on Jan. 6.popping up online have said antifa was behind the riot.
“Without an ‘official’ Trump-sanctioned event to anchor protests and other actions around, supporters are unsure who is really behind events planned around Inauguration day,” said Rachel Moran, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington’s Information School who studies disinformation.
Still, social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, along with law enforcement and civil rights groups are bracing for the possibility of more violence in the…