Two very different groups of men are at war on the internet today: the far-right group known as the Proud Boys—and the thousands of gay Twitter users who flooded that platform with pro-LGBT images, marking those posts with #proudboys.
The hashtag trended in North America throughout Sunday with gay Twitter users sharing images of themselves, their spouses and other gay people. Several celebrities added their voices to the mix, including Star Trek’s George Takei.
“We’re proud of all the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride,” Takei wrote, posting a picture of himself and his husband Brad. It received nearly 75,000 likes. “Our community and allies answered hate with love.”
The official Twitter account of the Canadian Armed Forces in the United States took part, too, tweeting a picture of two men kissing—one a corporal named Brent Kenny—with #proudboys. “Love is love,” the group wrote in a reply tweet. It was perhaps not a surprising piece of activism from a group that describes itself in its Twitter bio as: “Nice people. Maple syrup.” The Canadian Navy’s Twitter account later retweeted the image, as did the account for the ship that Kenny sailed on, the Winnipeg.
The demonstration that Takei and the others took part in is a response to the spotlight that has been
- Parler, an app popular with Trump supporters and the extremist Proud Boys group, said its activity tripled during the debate where Trump mentioned the group.
- Parler markets itself heavily on its lack of content moderation, and is used by many who, like the Proud Boys, are banned from other sites.
- A spokeswoman told Business Insider its activity tripled during and after the debate, and it had 266,000 active users in that period.
- Trump refused to condemn white supremacy during his first debate with Joe Biden, saying instead: “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
- The Proud Boys celebrated Trump’s comment by creating merchandise and using it as a recruitment drive.
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Parler, a social media platform popular with Trump supporters and used by the Proud Boys, said its activity rose to three times its normal levels during the debate in which Trump mentioned the group.
A Parler spokeswoman told Business Insider that the site saw “a very large user spike during and after the debate,” and that traffic rose to “about 3x normal load.”
She said that the site saw 266,000 active users in that period, and that 410,000 posts were created.
She said the site has been growing quickly in recent weeks, and now has 4 million users, compared to the 2.8 million it said that it had as of July.
Trump, prompted by his Democratic rival Joe Biden, mentioned the extremist, right-wing Proud Boys group when he was asked if he would condemn white supremacy by Fox News Host Chris Wallace.
Who emerged the winner from the presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden?
To many, it was hard to tell. It seemed like cacophonous chaos, the night producing less a victory for either man than an overall loss for a country that had to sit through 90 minutes of barbs, cross talk and ill will. But the crowd on Parler, a new social media app that courts conservative America, including the far right Proud Boys, seemed to reach a more definitive conclusion: That this was a total victory for Trump.
“People were on Parler tonight because they can freely express their views without fear or being throttled, banned, deplatformed,” says John Matze, the app’s founder. He sees Parler as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook, the mainstream platforms that Matze and others believe try to silence conservatives. “Overall I think their Parler experience contributed to a fair and free election.”
Parler, founded in 2018, has become a beacon for Republicans during the past few months, and in June, Trump publicly flirted with the idea of leaving Facebook and Twitter to concentrate efforts on Parler. He didn’t, though he, his son Eric, and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani all made official accounts and became active on the app. So did plenty of Trump supporters. At one point this summer, Parler was getting 500,000 downloads a week, and its user base