'The War Begins Today': From Twitter to Parler, How Trump Supporters Organized

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

'The War Begins Today': From Twitter to Parler, How Trump Supporters Organized
Photo by Cameron Smith on Unsplash

The images of a mob of Trump supporters invading the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon played out on live television and in Twitter feeds, but the moment had been building for years.

"Trump's most loyal base, which includes those affiliated with the QAnon conspiracy theory and white supremacists, have long been successful at translating online chatter to real-life action," said Daniel J. Jones, president of the Advance Democracy, a non-partisan nonprofit conducting public-interest research and investigations.

The group released a report on Wednesday that found over half of all QAnon-related Twitter accounts wrote about Jan. 6 leading up to the siege. And that ahead of storming the building, supporters called for violence on Twitter, Parler, TikTok and TheDonald, an online forum frequented by the far right.

"I think we will continue to see this on Parler and Gab and user-generated forms like theDonald.win," Jones said. "I suspect we will also see more coded language for violence to avoid the censors."

In reaction, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snap and Twitch have all banned Trump in some form. But, as mainstream social media companies have cracked down on Trump's false rhetoric, a slew of others have popped up that accommodate the speech, places like Parler, a libertarian-leaning social site created in 2018, run by John Matze and backed by conservative donor Rebekah Mercer.

Several recent Parler posts leading up to the storming of the capitol referenced war, some stating, "the war begins today." On the internet forum TheDonald.win, more than 80% of the top posts on January 6 featured "unmoderated calls for violence in the top five responses," according to the report.

Even on TikTok, the video-sharing platform that too has become a home for political discourse, four widely-shared posts called for violence or rebellion during the protests.

There's been a shift away from mainstream sites like Twitter and Facebook to alt-right platforms as stronger moderation policies have been implemented, said Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld, an assistant professor of public policy at UCLA who studies how social networks affect an individual's decision to protest.

Over the last two years especially, supporters have turned to far-right online platforms for "tactical coordination," he said.

"We have real-time communication about how to protest," he said. "In what I've researched on the Arab Spring, this is quite common behavior. This occurred in Iran, in 2009, for example."

Steinert-Threlkeld said many supporters are also probably having private conversations in closed and private groups on Facebook, for instance, or through encrypted messaging platforms.

Ángel Díaz, who focuses on liberty and national security at the Brennan Center for Justice, said it can be hard now to draw the line between conversations about violence online and actual violence. "We're not in that territory anymore," he said.

The move by some social media companies to block Trump came too late.

"For months the president has been using social media to incite real-world harms," Díaz said. "He encouraged violence towards Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer. He encourages supporters to defy lockdown orders. He encourages supporters to harass election officials."

"I think a lot of how the platforms will react going forward is going to continue to be shaped by a combination of what the public outcry is and what the political pressure is," he said.


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Greater Good Health Raises $10 Million To Fix America’s Doctor Shortage

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Greater Good Health Raises $10 Million To Fix America’s Doctor Shortage
Courtesy of Greater Good Health

The pandemic highlighted what’s been a growing trend for years: Medical students are prioritizing high-paying specialty fields over primary care, leading to a shortage of primary care doctors who take care of a patient’s day-to-day health concerns. These physicians are a cornerstone of preventative health care, which when addressed can lower health care costs for patients, insurers and the government. But there’s a massive shortage of doctors all over the country, and the pipeline for primary care physicians is even weaker.

One local startup is offering a possible answer to this supply squeeze: nurse practitioners.

On Wednesday, Manhattan Beach-based Greater Good Health unveiled $10 million in new funding led by LRVHealth, adding to $3 million in seed funding raised by the startup last year. The company employs nurse practitioners and pairs them with doctor’s offices and medical clinics; this allows nurse practitioners to take on patients who would otherwise have to wait weeks, or even months, to see a doctor.

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Plus Capital Partner Amanda Groves on Celebrity Equity Investments

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
PLUS Capital​’s Amanda Groves.
Courtesy of Amanda Groves.

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Amanda Groves talks about how PLUS Capital advises celebrity investors and why more high-profile individuals are choosing to invest instead of endorse.

As a partner at PLUS, Groves works with over 70 artists and athletes, helping to guide their investment strategies. PLUS advises their talent roster to combine their financial capital with their social capital and focus on five investment areas: the future of work, future of education, health and wellness, the conscious consumer and sustainability.

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