FROM the ashes of Trump's social media empire emerges a new platform that bills itself as the "anti-Facebook".
American app MeWe has seen a surge in users in recent weeks after Facebook, YouTube and Twitter booted Trump – some only temporarily – in the wake of the deadly assault on Capitol Hill incited by the US President.
Roughly 829,000 US users downloaded the app in the week after the attack on January 6, according to data analytics firm SensorTower.
That's an almost seven-fold increase on the week prior, a stratospheric rise mirrored by surging interest in privacy-first chat apps Signal and Telegram.
What is MeWe?
MeWe is a 4-year-old, full-featured social media company positioned as an anti-Facebook.
It says it does not collect data on its users, and features a Privacy Bill of Rights.
Much like Facebook, users can join groups, messages one another, establish a network of friends, and more.
The app costs up to $7.99 (£5) a month but a free tier is available.
The app's headquarters are based in Los Angeles, California.
It does not have policies banning misinformation or fake news, though rules are in place to cut out unlawful, harmful or hateful content.
"There’s nowhere in our terms that says you may not post fake news," MeWe founder Mark Weinstein told Rolling Stone in 2019.
"It’s not my job to censor good, law-abiding citizens abiding by our terms of service discussing…their opinions."
Critics say the app's lax moderation rules have allowed WeMe to become a hotpot of hate speech, fake news and wild conspiracy theories.
Why are people downloading MeWe?
Some users have fled Facebook and Twitter after the platforms booted President Donald Trump and some of his confederates.
Trump incited unrest and spread false claims about election fraud in the weeks leading up to a violent protest in Washington, DC on January 6.
Scores of protesters stormed the Capitol building resulting in the deaths of five people, including a police officer.
Social media giants have also begun banning posts and groups associated with dangerous sections of Trump's support.
Facebook, for instance, has banned the phrase "stop the steal" used as a rallying cry by Trump supporters in reference to the false allegations that the November US Presidential election was a sham.
Tech titans are concerned that some far-right users are using their platforms to organise violent mobs at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration event on Wednesday.
In response to the crackdown, some people have migrated to far-right friendly sites like Parler or Gab.
Others have joined sites with less stringent moderation, such as MeWe.
In the past year, MeWe more than doubled its membership to nearly 15million.
In the week ending January 12, it was downloaded 787,000 times from Apple and Google's US app stores, according to SensorTower.
While Trump supporters disaffection with Facebook has surely helped, CEO Mark Weinstein says MeWe owes its growth to everyone who is infuriated by their data being sold down the river by surveillance capitalists.
What platforms have cracked down on Trump and his supporters?
Following the Capitol Riots on January 6, multiple social media giants moved to block Trump from their platforms.
Some – including Trump's favoured soapbox, Twitter – banned the US President permanently, while others did so indefinitely.
Platforms cited Trump's breaking of rules over the incitement of violence as the reason for shutting down his accounts.
Below is a list of the major social media giants who have temporarily or permanently blocked Trump so far:
- Facebook (indefinite)
- Instagram (indefinite)
- Twitter (permanent)
- YouTube (banned until Jan. 20)
- Shopify (indefinite)
- Twitch (indefinite)
- Snapchat (indefinite)
What happened at Capitol Hill?
Violent protests erupted in Washington DC on January 6, with hundreds of protesters storming Capitol Hill in unprecedented scenes.
The riots erupted after Trump told supporters to prevent President Elect Joe Biden's election win being certified: "We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
"And we're gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women.
"And we're probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong."
As the protesters charged into the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi's, office, lawmakers were evacuated and staffers ordered to take emergency bags with food, water and gas marks as they fled the building.
Mr Trump posted on Twitter, urging protesters to stay "peaceful" but stopped short of telling them to leave.
He said: "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence!"
Trump eventually released a video telling those that sieged the building to "go home" – as he still made unbacked claims of fraud and told demonstrators they were "special".
Meanwhile, the vice-President Mike Pence told anyone involved in the protests to head home.
Ashli Babbitt, 35, was shot dead and Roseanne Boyland, 34, Kevin Greeson, 55, and Benjamin Phillips, 50, died after suffering "medical emergencies".
Police Officer Brian D Sicknick was also killed.
Following the dispersal of the protestors hours after they breached Capitol Hill, Mr Trump chillingly told "patriots" to "remember this day forever".
The outgoing US President's reckless actions were condemned by political leaders across the globe.
Home Secretary Priti Patel slammed Mr Trump for making comments which "directly" led to the violence.
In other news, Facebook has banned Trump supporters’ "stop the steal" rallying cry and is mass-deleting posts and pages ahead of Wednesday's inauguration.
TikTok has banned videos of Trump inciting the mob at Capitol Hill as part of sweeping moves by tech firm's to crack down on the US President.
And, a hoax WhatsApp message warning that you may be hacked is spreading online.
What do you make of MeWe? Let us know in the comments!
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