MyPillow CEO and Trump loyalist Mike Lindell plans to launch his own “free speech” social media site to rival the likes of Twitter and Facebook. His site would follow in the footsteps of right-wing alternative social networks Parler and Gab, but Lindell has bigger ambitions, claiming “Frank,” as he’s named it, will be “YouTube with a Twitter feature... nothing like you’ve ever seen before.” Frankly, we’re glad it’s his money on the line and not ours.
Lindell made the comments during an appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast “War Room.” The show was pulled from YouTube in January over misinformation and content that incited violence at the U.S. Capitol the same month.
Frank is supposed to launch in the next few weeks, and Lindell wants people to rest assured that the site will be able to handle plenty of users looking to ditch the “oppression” of major social networks. “It’s going to be the most safest (sic), securest, and able to handle — a hundred, two hundred, a billion people,” he said. “Since I bought all my own servers and got all my own stuff, no Amazon, no Apple, no crooked YouTube, no crooked Google, none of these guys are going to be able to take this down.”
Low bar, low brow — Parler, which served as an organizing place for rioters who breached the Capitol, was so bad at security that photos of videos of the Capitol riots were quickly culled from it and have since been used to make arrests. Gab, meanwhile, had major payment services pull their support and now subsists on cryptocurrency donations from users. Embarrassingly, neither platform managed to attract Trump after he was banned from Twitter... which doesn’t exactly bode well for their longevity.
Lindell is making an alternative because he really has no other place to go. He has been banned from Twitter and censored on YouTube for using his expertise in pillow manufacturing to push baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Lindell is also currently being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for claiming its voting machines were manipulated to swing the 2020 presidential election.
Frank won’t protect anyone from defamation cases, but users will be able to disseminate harmful information without pushback. “All these people that can’t say on their podcast the word ‘Dominion,’ or they can’t say ‘The vaccine is bad for you’... they’re going to be able to speak out and speak freely. And it’s going to be amazing. The voices of hundreds of millions of people are going to be heard from around the world.”
Echo chamber — Right-wing social networks have struggled to stay online as they have relied on major tech companies for hosting and distribution. Parler only recently came back online after Amazon canceled its hosting and both Apple and Google pulled its apps from their respective stores.
These types of sites have not yet been able to attract massive audiences as they become silos for extremist views and conspiracy theories that most people aren’t interested in, or believe are dangerous. Reddit might be the only example of a site that has hosts both mass-market and more fringe content, but it’s done a good job of keeping the latter from spreading into the former.
Republicans and even President Joe Biden have suggested repealing Section 230, a legal provision that grants internet platforms immunity from what’s carried on their platforms. Tech leaders have warned against the potential ramifications of removing the protection, as they would likely have to moderate far more than they do today, and they’re already struggling. Parler, meanwhile, showed it couldn’t handle moderation at all, so it, Gab, and Frank would likely suffer even harsher legal challenges than Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which already expend enormous resources on moderation.