- As Twitter and Facebook suspended users seen as supporting rioters, including President Trump’s accounts, far-right conversations shifted to Parler and other outlets.
- Some talked of violent revolution, but others on the network sought to blame Trump’s political enemies for Wednesday’s chaos.
- “There might have been some people, the ones that broke in – they seemed to break in early, and, for all we know, it could of been plants,” said My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell.
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A widely circulated photo from Wednesday showed a news photographer standing in the Senate gallery, pointing his camera down at a member of the pro-Trump mob raising his fist behind the dais.
They’re in the chamber. One is up on the dais yelling “Trump won that election!” This is insane pic.twitter.com/p6CXhBDSFT
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
After it was posted on Twitter, by Igor Bobic, of The HuffPost, the photo was quickly cropped, drawn on, and turned into a meme to suggest that the whole riot was a staged event.
“This look staged to you?” began the blue text plopped onto it. “NOT MAGA,” the other side said.
From there, the meme spread quickly on Parler, a conservative alternative to Twitter. Lin Wood, a pro-Trump lawyer, shared it with a single-word commentary: “Discernment.”
By Thursday morning, Wood’s post had 4 million views, and 18,000 shares, or “echoes” in Parler terminology.
As Twitter and Facebook suspended users seen as supporting rioters, including President Donald Trump’s accounts, far-right conversations shifted to Parler and other outlets, places with fewer rules about harsh rhetoric. Some talked of violent revolution, but others on the network sought to blame Trump’s political enemies for Wednesday’s chaos.
Users started sharing the meme Wood posted, adding their own theories about the rioters being secretly led by China, Antifa, and Black Lives Matters.
Many used the hashtags like #staged, #stagedfalseflag, and #stopthesteal. Others said that busloads of Antifa protesters had been dropped off midday in Washington, and that they had led the mob into the Capitol.
Wood’s Twitter account was suspended, but he attempted to move the conversation back, saying on Parler that he planned to post via the Twitter handle @FightBackLaw until “Jack the Commie lifts my suspension tomorrow.” But that account was suspended quickly, too.
Mike Lindell, chief executive at My Pillow and one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, posted a 7-minute video, in which he said the Capitol rioters may have been “plants.”
“First of all, the riots you’re seeing on TV â€” that’s a joke,” Lindell told followers in a video posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Parler.
“My nieces were down there, and they said 99.9% was â€” it was just peaceful protest. There might have been some people, the ones that broke in â€” they seemed to break in early, and, for all we know, it could of been plants.”
After he posted it, his video circulated on Parler and other networks, making its way to VK.com, the Russian social networking site. One French-language VK.com user, for example, posted Lindell’s video with bomb emojis, saying, “Donald Trump sera notre prÃ©sident pour les 4 prochaines annÃ©es!” or “Donald Trump will be our president for the next 4 years!”
Elsewhere on VK.com, users said the riots were all part of Trump’s plan. They posted long messages about Trump, or “Ð¢Ñ€Ð°Ð¼Ð¿,” and what they saw as a hoax, or “Ð¾Ð±Ð¼Ð°Ð½.” Some posts echoed QAnon theories, with users saying Wednesday’s riot was part of Trump’s long-term plan to take down a powerful conspiracy.
Some users claimed that Trump’s prodding of the protestors, who they say were Antifa, was a tactic to get them arrested so they would finally be in jail.
Some on Parler had a different outlook. Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, for example, said the riots were “wrong.” She added, however, that “the Trump critics using this as proof that every criticism they have ever lobbed at Trump/his supports has been validated is absurd.”
Her post was “echoed” about 1,800 times in 12 hours, a fraction of Wood’s misinformation post.
Insider reached out to Parler for comment on Wednesday.