Parler Users Furious That Site Sent Violent Posts to FBI Ahead of Capitol Riot

The social network Parler was flooded with a wave of angry comments on Friday after it emerged that the "free speech" platform had repeatedly collaborated with the FBI in the weeks leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot.

Hundreds of users have responded to a post published by the official Parler account on Thursday that called for "an investigation into big tech collusion" that, it alleged, "took place just as Parler began to pose a credible threat" to Facebook and Twitter.

The post linked to an article by The Wall Street Journal detailing how Parler made more than 50 referrals to the FBI ahead of the violent siege. If the company thought the post would garner a positive reaction among the site's users, they were wrong.

One user wrote: "To confirm, you are calling for an investigation into big tech collusion while you are colluding with the FBI against your platform members?" Another user wrote: "This is NOT an example of a free speech platform. Parler is a fraud."

The negative comments quickly piled up. Users vented their fury at the site's apparent willingness to report its users despite its pitch of protecting free speech.

"I guess when a company says they are a free speech platform I would not expect them to turn folks over to the corrupt FBI," one person commented. Another wrote: "How is this supposed to make us want to stay on Parler when you violated people's right to free speech?" A third Parler user said: "So you are saying you ratted on a bunch of us."

One person asked how to delete their account. Another said: "Dropping Parler as soon as President Trump starts his new platform.... y'all are done in my book."

Details of the FBI referrals were included in a letter submitted to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported. The committee launched an investigation into Parler in the wake of the Capitol disruption.

Parler became a popular destination for conservatives and Trump supporters over the past year as social media users sought alternatives to Facebook and Twitter. It was brought offline for about a month after the siege in Washington, D.C. as Amazon Web Services, Google and Apple accused it of failing to combat extreme user content.

According to the Journal, Parler started informing the FBI about suspicious user content suggesting potential unrest at the Capitol in December. One post, from December 24, called for 150,000 people to "react to the congressional events of January 6."

The legal team representing Parler, Michael Dry and Ephraim Wernick, wrote in the letter the examples were "only a fraction of the dozens of posts" sent to the FBI.

They wrote: "Far from being the far-right instigator... that Big Tech has portrayed Parler to be, the facts conclusively demonstrate that Parler has been a responsible and law-abiding company focused on ensuring that only free and lawful speech exists on its platform. Parler has always recognized that there are legal limits to free speech."

Parler
This illustration picture shows social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone with its website in the background in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. The social network Parler was flooded with a wave of angry comments on Friday after it emerged that the “free speech” platform had repeatedly collaborated with the FBI in the weeks leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images