Another day, another conservative politician expressing outrage about a “liberal” social media platform’s pretty basic content moderation policies.
Shortly after former President Trump blasted “low-life Twitter” for permanently suspending Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and about a year after Trump’s own Twitter suspension, famed YouTuber Sen. Rand Paul announced on Monday that he’s quitting YouTube… by continuing to post on the website to “criticize” it and linking to his posts on the new conservative platform, Rumble.
Like Greene, Paul’s protest of YouTube follows disciplinary measures the website issued against his account for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. His YouTube received two strikes back in August and September and was suspended for a week for each strike. A third strike within 90 days of a user’s second could result in their account being permanently suspended by YouTube. Notably, Paul managed to avoid that third strike prior to allegedly quitting the platform altogether.
Similarly, Greene’s personal Twitter account was banned from the platform over the weekend after receiving its fifth strike for sharing COVID misinformation, as Omicron cases, hospitalizations, and deaths soar across the country. She was later barred from Facebook for one day on Monday for sharing more COVID-related conspiracy theories, and promptly took to the conservative, Twitter-esque social media platform Gettr to complain, calling the move “beyond censorship of speech.”
Paul and Greene are part of a wave of conservative activists and politicians flocking to platforms like Gettr, Parler, Gab, and Rumble — a wave that includes the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson, far-right conspiracy theorists Alex Jones (banned by YouTube, Facebook and Apple) and Laura Loomer, and Fox News contributor Dan Bongino. Like others before her, Greene has migrated to conservative social apps primarily out of necessity following her Twitter suspension. Yet, fellow conservatives who haven’t been banned from Twitter or elsewhere are claiming they’re “moving” to apps like Parler, regardless. In a play that can only be labeled as a blatant call for attention, most of those who have claimed they’re jumping ship are still using the supposedly “liberal” platforms.
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In the summer of 2020, Cruz and Paul both announced they would be moving from Twitter to Parler. “I’m proud to join @parler_app — a platform gets what free speech is all about — and I’m excited to be a part of it. Let’s speak freely. And let’s end the Silicon Valley censorship,” Cruz tweeted. More than a year later, he remains one of the most active Republican politicians on Twitter, where he’s recently spent the better part of his days fighting his war on Big Bird. Despite his lavish praise of Parler’s respect for “free speech,” the platform has reportedly banned the masses of liberal and progressive users who joined the website to troll it in 2020.
Also in the summer of 2020, then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she was moving to Parler, tweeting: “Sick and tired of social media censoring conservatives. I’ve had ENOUGH!” Apparently, she wasn’t too sick and tired, as she’s remained on the platform to harass Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for going on vacation last week and to promote a t-shirt with her face on it.
Proclaiming to all the world that they’ll be quitting this social media app or that one has become the equivalent of a Republican thirst trap, a transparently desperate attempt to draw eyes and commentary from mainstream media. They know “conservative censorship” on Twitter and Facebook isn’t real, that no one is actually going to use any of these stupidly named conservative apps, and that however much they might rail against mainstream social media platforms, they rely on them. Let’s face it: It’s hard to “trigger” liberals who noticeably aren’t around on Gettr.
The irony of this is that despite mostly rich, white conservatives claiming liberal social media is targeting them, these same platforms have taken little to no action to protect people of color, women, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups from routine harassment and death threats they face. One need only read the cursed replies to tweets by Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib or Ocasio-Cortez to see how endemic and unchecked racism, misogyny and hate speech are on the website. Meanwhile, Facebook has long been a hotbed for dangerous right-wing lies, from deadly conspiracies about COVID and elections, to anti-abortion disinformation about “abortion reversal.” And despite banning or disciplining some conservative accounts for spreading COVID lies that could and have literally killed people, Twitter took almost no action in November against the account of Rep. Paul Gosar, who shared an anime video of himself appearing to kill Ocasio-Cortez.
Conservative censorship isn’t real, but conservative thirst for attention very much is, meaning we’re all going to have to put up with regularly scheduled announcements of this Republican Congress member or that quitting Twitter, only to show up the next day. Unless, of course, they achieve the levels of crazy that have thus far only been unlocked by 45 and Greene. If so, may they find all the notoriety and lib-owning they seek in the neo-Nazi circle jerk that is Parler.