Cross-Platform Reactions to the Post-January 6 Deplatforming
Keywords:deplatforming, Twitter, Gab, Reddit, Facebook
We study changes in social media usage following the ‘Great Deplatforming’ in
the aftermath of the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol. Following the
attack, several major platforms banned thousands of accounts, ostensibly to
limit misinformation about voter fraud and suppress calls for violence. At the
same time, alternative platforms like Gab, BitChute, and Parler welcomed these
deplatformed individuals. We identify three key patterns: First, in studying
the platforms that emerged among users seeking alternative spaces, we see high
frequencies of users bridging these communities announcing their intent to join
non-mainstream platforms to their audiences on mainstream platforms. Second, focusing on platforms that were created to be alternative, anti-censorship
spaces, deplatforming preceded a sustained increase in engagement with Gab
across Twitter, Reddit, and Google search, while Parler saw a steep decline in
engagement. Third, examining the language in these spaces, toxic discourse
increased briefly on Reddit and Twitter but returned to normal after the deplatforming, while Gab became more toxic. These results suggest that while
deplatforming may precede a reduction in targeted discussions within a specific platform, it can incentivize users to seek alternative platforms where these
discussions are less regulated and often more extreme.
As these alternative spaces are often more political and extreme than their mainstream counterparts, deplatforming may drive single-platform improvements at the expense of the larger information ecosystem.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Jacob Shapiro, Cody Buntain, Martin Innes, Tamar Mitts
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.