March 3rd, 2021 – Two months into trying to understand why a mob of angry protesters violently stormed the US Capitol, a significant influence remains overlooked: TikTok.
In the search for accountability, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—the perennial havens for disinformation and radicalization—were joined on center stage by a younger fringe platform: Parler. At its apex, the temporarily deprovisioned Parler had fewer than 20 million accounts and peaked at just under 3 million daily active users. TikTok has more than 800 million active users across the world and 50 million in the US who log in every single day.
Our team at the National Conference on Citizenship has been monitoring content on Parler continuously for the past few months, and what we saw generally mirrors what others have reported: The platform was a hotbed of misinformation, conspiracy theories, hate, and incitements to violence. There was also a lot of spam and junk. Parler was, and is, a dirty, disgusting place, but in terms of volume and reach, it was just a drop in the ocean.
PHOTOGRAPH: ALEX EDELMAN/GETTY IMAGES