Conservative social media platform Parler established a working relationship with the FBI in November and over the following weeks and months repeatedly alerted the agency to violent threats being planned on the platform, including violence at the U.S. Capitol, the company claimed Thursday.
What are the details?
In a letter sent to Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman, Parler forcefully "set the record straight" about claims that it didn't do enough to police content ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
In the aftermath of the riot, the pro-free speech company was targeted and effectively deplatformed by Big Tech monopolies for allegedly failing to crack down on violent rhetoric. Within days of the attack, Parler was removed by Apple and Google from their respective app stores and then later removed by Amazon Web Services from its servers.
However, the company says those actions were disingenuous. It claimed in the letter — offering proof in the form of email screenshots — that it "took the extraordinary initiative to develop formal lines of communication with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") to facilitate proactive cooperation and referrals of violent threats and incitement to law enforcement" in the latter half of the year as the platform's user count grew substantially.
"In the days and weeks leading up to Jan. 6, Parler referred violent content from its platform to the F.B.I. for investigation over 50 times," the company said in its letter. "Parler even alerted law enforcement to specific threats of violence being planned at the Capitol."
The New York Times noted in its coverage of the news that the letter "raises fresh questions about whether the F.B.I. took seriously enough threats of violence made ahead of Jan. 6." The outlet reached out to the FBI for comment regarding the revelations from Parler, but has not yet received a response.
In the letter, Parler included several specific examples of alerts it sent to the bureau ahead of the riot at the Capitol. Here is a portion of the letter recalling some of the instances:
In December 2020, Parler also began to alert the FBI about alarming content that included specific threats of organized violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. For example, on December 24, Parler forwarded a post to the FBI from a user who called for the congregation of an armed force of 150,000 on the Virginia side of the Potomac River to "react to the congressional events of January 6th." Later that same day, Parler forwarded another unlawful post to the FBI in which a user stated that he was trying to "find some guys that are planning on lighting up Antifa in Wa[shington, D.C.] on the 6th" because he wanted to "start eliminating people."
A few days later on January 2, 2021, Parler forwarded the FBI a series of posts by a user claiming that he would be wearing body armor and stating that the planned event in Washington, D.C. on January 6th "is not a rally and it's no longer a protest. This is the final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill. I trust the American people will take back the USA with force and many are ready to die to take back #USA so remember this is not a party until they announce #Trump2020 a winner. . . . And don't be surprised if we take the #capital [sic] building . . . ." Parler included another post in this referral to the FBI in which the user made clear that armed people would be at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and noted that an insurrection would be necessary because "Trump needs us to cause chaos to enact the #insurrectionact."
The company noted that the above examples represent "only a fraction" of the posts that it sent to the FBI for review in the days leading up to Jan. 6.