Under scrutiny over whether it was used to coordinate the January 6 Capitol attack, conservative social network Parler said Thursday it reported more than 50 violent posts to the FBI before the riot.
In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Parler’s lawyers argued the app is being scapegoated, when in reality it actually alerted the FBI to specific threats to the Capitol when then protests were being planned before the attack.
Parler said it referred violent content to the FBI “over 50 times,” including a post where a user said protesters should be armed because “Trump needs us to cause chaos to enact the #insurrectionact,” a post saying “don’t be surprised if we take the #capital (sic) building” and a photo showing Hillary Clinton behind a noose.
The FBI warned of potential extremist violence in a bulletin the day before the attack, according to the Washington Post, though it’s unclear if that report, which never made it to Capitol Police leadership, was based on the posts from Parler.
Parler did not address the spread of misinformation about the election, which was rampant on the platform both before and after the attack, and has been cited as part of the reason the riot occurred in the first place, or reports that calls for “civil war” increased on the app during former President Donald Trump’s speech before the siege.
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
“Far from being the far-right instigator and rogue company 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,” the letter says.
Parler was founded in 2018 as a free speech alternative to mainstream social networks, and quickly became a refuge for conservatives and right-wing content. But the app was subjected to tighter scrutiny after the Capitol riot, leading Apple and Google to kick it off their app stores. Amazon banned the company from using its cloud computing platform, preventing the app from operating at all. Former CEO John Matze alleges in a lawsuit that he wanted to ban neo-Nazi groups and QAnon in order to get back on the App Store, but Parler’s leadership team, including conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer, were resistant and instead fired him. Parler eventually found another cloud provider, Los Angeles-based SkySilk, and is back with a bare-bones website, but its mobile app is still offline.