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No Parler? No problem, as more apps claim to allow ‘free speech’ | Donald Trump News

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Big tech’s decision to ban the Parler app and block outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump is stoking support for alternative social networking sites and apps that bill themselves as promoting free speech and privacy.

Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. took the strongest action yet to address accusations that their platforms are being used to stoke conspiracy theories, misinformation and incite violence after a mob at a Trump rally broke into the U.S. Capitol last week. Right-wing users have felt maligned and moved to alternative sites like Parler, backed by Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund investor Robert Mercer. A rush to the site late last year made Parler the top downloaded app following President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump, who was banned permanently from Twitter, said he may build his own social platform. “We will not be SILENCED,” he said in a Twitter post from the official presidential account that has since been removed.

With Parler out of the game, here’s where users are going instead:

Gab

Gab Chief Executive Officer Andrew Torba said the social network got 600,000 new users in the early hours of Monday alone after Parler was taken off the internet by Amazon Web Services. As of April 2020, the site had 1.16 million registered accounts and 3.7 million unique monthly users.

In addition to the social network, Gab also has a “Dissenter” web browser that blocks ads, a merchandise shop that sells t-shirts that say “Deleting Silicon Valley” and a subscription Gab Pro site.

Some of Gab’s most popular groups are for Trump supporters, QAnon and ‘Stop the Steal,’ several with more than 100,000 members. Gab has been funded by its founders, users, premium subscriptions and crowdfunding. Torba owns most of the company and controls 80% of voting shares.

Telegram

Channels bearing the names of Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have hundreds of thousands of followers on encrypted messaging app Telegram. The company, founded by Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov, raised $1.7 billion in 2018 to make its own crypto currency, a project that was ultimately abandoned after running afoul of regulators. Vedomosti newspaper reported that billionaire Roman Abramovich and businessmen David Yakobashvili and Sergei Solonin were among investors. On Sunday, Trump Jr. shared a list of links to other conservative accounts to follow, such as Right Side Broadcasting Network, PragerU and Turning Point USA, as well as groups like a Trump Supporters Channel.

The app, which competes with the likes of Facebook’s WhatsApp and has about 7 million monthly active users in the U.S., has seen downloads spike to more than 133,000 a day on Sunday up from a usual range of about 34,000 to 60,000, according to data from Apptopia.

WhatsApp has seen an exodus of some high-profile users such as billionaire Elon Musk following an update to the service’s privacy policy that requires its 2 billion users to share data with Facebook.

Rumble

Calling itself a “censorship free video platform,” the Canadian YouTube competitor is used by Conservative commentators including: Sean Hannity, the Daily Caller, Dinesh D’Souza, the One America News Network and Steve Bannon. Commentators beneath the site’s top news video on Monday morning, a Fox News interview about the Parler ban with Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, expressed outrage and discussed a coming “civil war.” The site was founded by Chris Pavlovski in 2013 and has 50 million unique users a month.

MeWe

The social networking site, founded by Mark Weinstein, promotes its privacy credentials and doesn’t support ads. The site has seen more than 1 million new users sign up in the last 72 hours and is currently adding more than 20,000 members an hour, according to a spokesman. “People are leaving Facebook and Twitter in droves because they are fed up with the relentless privacy violations, surveillance capitalism, targeting, political bias, and newsfeed manipulation by these companies,” spokesman David Westreich said in an email.

MeWe lists Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist and privacy advocate credited with inventing the World Wide Web, as an adviser. Its terms of service say, among other things, that users aren’t allowed to bully, harass, intimidate or harm another user or make posts that incite violence or are hateful or threatening or risk having their accounts suspended or permanently canceled.

Its political pages include groups sympathetic to QAnon, such as the Great Awakening and the Empowered Citizen Institute’s Great Awakening Patriots a group that’s been banned from Twitter. The company ranked fourth on Apple’s App Store two days after the U.S. presidential race was called for Biden. MeWe raised $5.2 million in 2018 from investors including Lynda Weinman, who sold Lynda.com to LinkedIn in 2015, author Marci Shimoff, Rachel Roy and Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield.

2nd1st

Created by Howly Inc., 2nd1st says it offers uncensored news and tells users on its app “we must not yield to advertisers or cancel culture.” The app costs 9.99 pounds for a subscription in the U.K. Top posts on the app on Monday included mock-ups of Jesus standing behind President Trump, vague warnings about a revolution or history changing event tied to Trump and skepticism about requirements to wear masks to prevent Covid-19.

None of the companies listed here, aside from MeWe, responded to a request for comment. A representative for 2nd1st couldn’t be found and an email address for Gab’s press office appeared to be faulty.



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US House delivers Trump impeachment article to Senate | Politics News

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The US House of Representatives has presented its article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate, a step that formally sets in motion the Senate trial against the former United States president.

Walking from one side of the US Capitol to the other, nine House managers appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi hand-delivered the impeachment document to the Senate on Monday evening.

The article charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in relation to the deadly storming on January 6 of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC by a mob of his supporters.

The House impeached Trump on January 13 on the same charge – making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

Monday’s formal step kickstarts the trial phase of the impeachment process, in which all 100 senators will sit as jurors to hear evidence and legal arguments from House managers, who act as prosecutors in the case, and the former president’s defence team.

To be convicted, the Senate must secure a two-thirds majority on the impeachment charge.

If that happens, a subsequent vote could bar Trump from running for public office again in the future.

Trial to start in February

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have agreed on a timeline for the trial, which is expected to begin during the week of February 8.

“Both the House managers and the former president’s counsel will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials,” Senate leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks to the chamber on Monday.

“Once the briefs are drafted, presentations by the parties will commence the week of February 8th,” he said.

Senators will be sworn in as jurors on Wednesday and a summons will be sent by the Senate to the former president, requiring him to answer the article of impeachment.

Trump has been initially defiant amid accusations he incited the Capitol mob in a speech he gave before the breach and in repeated false claims that the presidential election had been stolen from him.

Before the House vote to impeach him, Trump had said his speech to the January 6 rally of his supporters was “totally appropriate”.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior Democrat who holds the title of president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the trial instead of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

“When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tem takes an additional oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws,” Leahy said in a statement.

“It is an oath I take extraordinarily seriously,” he said.

Republicans divided

Republicans are divided over the impeachment, with some senators saying Trump should be held accountable for the Capitol riot and others fearing a conviction of the former Republican president could be damaging for the party.

Some Republican legislators have argued that holding an impeachment trial after Trump has left office is unconstitutional – a claim that has been rejected by Democrats and some US experts.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Washington, DC, said on Monday that some Republicans have also said the trial could further divide the country.

“Democrats, to counter that, have said that in order to get to unity, as everyone is calling for, first there must be accountability,” Zhou-Castro said.

“And they’re saying that if Trump were to indeed be guilty of inciting insurrection and simply leave office and not be held accountable, then that would set a dangerous precedent.”

Democrats will need to get more than a dozen Republicans to vote in favour of impeachment to get a conviction, as Democrats only have a slim majority in the chamber.

Trial timeline, procedure

House managers and Trump’s defence team will exchange legal briefs in the days leading up to the start of the trial.

The nine House managers will be led in the trial by Representative Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar and leading advocate in the House for charging Trump with insurrection after the January 6 attacks.

The House managers have retained lawyers Barry Berke and Joshua Matz to help support their prosecution of the case.

Both Berke and Matz participated in the first Senate impeachment trial against Trump in 2020, which involved charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice for his attempts to pressure the government of Ukraine.

Pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

For his part, Trump has retained Butch Bowers of South Carolina, an experienced trial lawyer who has previously represented politicians.

House managers will have until February 2 to file their pre-trial brief laying out the case for conviction. Trump’s defence counsel will have the same deadline to respond to the charge, the Reuters news agency reported.

February 8 is the next deadline for Trump’s legal team to file a response to the House brief, and for the House managers to file a response to the president’s answer to the article of impeachment.



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