Despite Parler being the only social media company to be de-platformed after the Capitol riots, the company said it warned the FBI dozens of times about potential violence on Jan. 6.
Pushing back on criticism that it turned a blind eye to user content ahead of the riot, Parler said in a letter to the Committee on Oversight and Reform chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, 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,” after it experienced considerable growth in the latter half of 2020.
"In fact, in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th, Parler referred violent content from its platform to the FBI for investigation over 50 times, and Parler even alerted law enforcement to specific threats of violence being planned at the Capitol," the letter continued.
The company said it regularly sent the FBI screenshots of violent rhetoric, including from one user who “threatened to kill politicians and who specifically threatened former Attorney General Bill Barr.”
Days before the riot, Parler also referred a number of posts from a user threatening to take the U.S. back by force, stating the planned event on Jan. 6 “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 ..."
The FBI even expressed its appreciation for the company’s assistance.
"[E]ven as its Big Tech rivals moved to unlawfully de-platform Parler, the Company still committed valuable resources to working with law enforcement in order to service and expeditiously respond to Emergency Disclosure Requests, subpoenas, and warrants," the letter states. "The FBI understood the strain that the Company was under and thanked Parler for its efforts to help law enforcement especially under such difficult circumstances for the company."
In the letter, the company accused Big Tech of engaging in a "disinformation campaign" to "scapegoat" Parler for the Jan. 6 riots and "to justify Big Tech's unlawful and anticompetitive decision to de-platform Parler" when the company was experiencing tremendous growth, "thereby presenting a viable threat to Big Tech's stranglehold on social media."
Parler responds to Rep. Maloney: "The Cmte's interest in Parler appears to stem from a coordinated and widespread disinformation campaign designed to scapegoat Parler for the riots at the...Capitol...and to justify Big Tech’s...de-platform[ing of] Parler" https://t.co/orjTzYI5YP— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) March 25, 2021