Booting right-wing extremists off social media has reduced their visibility but the threat still remains: report

In the wake of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 of last year, far-right influencers and conspiracy peddlers were booted off social media platforms in droves. Now, those booted from the platforms are finding alternative means of getting their messages out.

Speaking to NPR, the Atlantic Council's Jared Holt said the deplatforming "produced this great scattering where groups that were banned or groups that believed their bans were imminent or forthcoming in this giant game of musical chairs, hopping from platform to platform."

Some have turned to the encrypted messaging app Telegram and others went to social media sites like Parler, Gab and Gettr, that claim to champion the free speech rights that mainstream platforms took away. But as expected, alternative platforms become echo chambers.

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Nevertheless, researchers say deplatforming has taken some of the momentum away from the far right.

"The best research that we have suggests that deplatforming is very powerful," Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University, told NPR. "It means that really prominent actors who helped stoke the Stop the Steal campaign that led to the insurrection have much less reach, get much less audience and attention. And that is very, very, very important."

While the purge has made extremists less visible, it hasn't made them less of a threat.

"You have to go almost to the county level to understand what's happening, and how what happens online is related to what's happening offline," said Candace Rondeaux of the think tank New America.

Read the full article over at NPR.