For supporters of Donald Trump, who consider themselves “censored” by Facebook or Twitter, the choice is wide: In the United States, no less than four social networks, including three newly launched, present themselves as alternative solutions “respect for freedom of expression”. There’s Gab, Twitter’s historical, far-right copycat; Truth Social, launched by Donald Trump earlier this year and reserved for US users; then Parler, funded by the family of the ultra-conservative billionaires Mercer; and finally Gettr, created by a former adviser to Donald Trump.
Everyone surfed, from January 2021, on the closure of Donald Trump’s Twitter account and his block on Facebook, following the attack on the Capitol (January 6, 2021), encouraged in part by messages published by Mr. Trump on social media. But despite this promising news for recruiting new users, difficulties have arisen for almost all of these sites.
First technical. Gab, who hosts large amounts of conspiratorial or even neo-Nazi content, saw his access to Amazon Web Services cut off in 201.9 after a series of shootings committed by users of the site. The platform has since developed its own hosting system. Launcher’s app, launched shortly before the Capitol attack, was pulled from Apple and Google’s online stores in early 2021 before also losing its contract with Amazon.
Truth Social, which was launched with great fanfare but with a delay by Donald Trump in early 2022, was unavailable for several days, apparently due to a poorly prepared launch to suddenly welcome a large number of users. Only Gettr, which was launched more gradually, appears to have escaped blockages and crashes – even though disgruntled former employees in February revealed that the company had fired its entire technical team by surprise.
Back and forth on moderation
Amazon’s cuts are directly linked to the philosophy pursued by these platforms, where one of the main arguments is a much more tolerant moderation than that practiced by Facebook or Instagram. Everyone sets certain limits on the content they accept, but Gab, in particular, easily tolerates illegal content in Europe and responds very little to requests to remove content. After being blocked from the Apple Store, Parler had to go back and implement more moderation tools, contrary to its original promise.
These social networks, mostly designed for followers of Donald Trump, also suffer from structural problems. For their very militant users, they form an echo chamber where they preach to converts – as opposed to “mainstream” social networks where they can hope to convince other internet users to join their political side. The so-called “Metcalfe” law, which postulates that the usefulness of a network is proportional to its number of users, also limits the expansion of networks that are not intended for everyone: in the absence of mass criticism from friends or family members on These alternative networks, most of their users continue to use larger platforms as their primary accounts.
In the past, these alternative platforms have been able to attract “big name” conservatives, but they are struggling to keep them. On Parler, for example, almost all the “stars” on the platform, such as star presenter Sean Hannity, simply repost their Twitter messages there automatically.
Not to mention the competition, direct or indirect, in which these four networks engage, certainly different, but which all seek to seduce the same population of conservative Americans. Parler and Gab have been in open conflict for more than a year; For its development, Gettr is dependent on foreign countries, especially France. All four are also in direct competition with other networks with a large user base, especially Telegram, an unmoderated application where ultra-conservative groups around the world have a strong presence.