Trump loyalists 'driven deeper into internet' after social media bans

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By Seana Davis
An US flag flies at half-staff above the White House in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021.
An US flag flies at half-staff above the White House in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021.   -   Copyright  Patrick Semansky/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The EU's digital chief Thierry Breton has branded the insurrection at the US Capitol the "9/11 moment for social media".

In the aftermath of the violence in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter over violations of its civic integrity policies.

Facebook, too, took action against Trump, locking his account until there is a peaceful transition of power.

Meanwhile, Amazon, Google, and Apple cut access to Parler, an app that hails itself as a "free-speech alternative" to other platforms.

"Parler is basically a Twitter alternative," Dr Jen Golbeck, computer scientist and director at the University of Maryland's social intelligence lab, told Euronews.

"It was set up to take in the people who felt like they couldn't share their views on Twitter because they violated their terms of service against threats, harassment, calls to violence and so on".

It was a platform popular with right-wing commentators and users, Dr Golbeck said, and also where "a lot of the plans for the insurrection that we saw on [January] the 6th took place".

"It was very clear leading up to that event that they were planning to storm the Capitol. There were plans discussed there about who they wanted to kill, who they wanted to take hostage. So it was a place where there was a lot of violence."

The move to sideline the site has driven supporters to even "deeper places" on the internet.

"Making it harder to win reasonable people over into these really irrational conspiracy theories is something that I think is going to be helpful in tamping down violence going forward," Golbeck explained.

On Monday, the platform filed a complaint about Amazon's action, arguing that the decision was politically motivated

CEO John Matze said Parler did not condone or violence but that the platform does "explicitly prohibit any messages that incite or threaten violence or any other activity that breaks the law".

See more of the interview with Dr. Golbeck in the video player, above.