Ironic

‘Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?’ sang my fellow Ottawan Alanis Morissette. Of course, the really ironic thing was that Morissette didn’t understand the meaning of ironic. Nevertheless, her words often come to mind when thinking of developments in the United States, especially when they involve Russia. For when it comes to matters Russo-American, the cup of irony truly runneth over.

Take, for instance, the purge of conservatives from social media following the riot in Washington a couple of weeks ago in which a mob of supporters of now ex-president Donald Trump invaded the Capitol building. As anybody who has been even remotely following American politics for the past four years will know, Trump and his supporters have been repeatedly accused of being puppets of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Expelling them from social media is thus portrayed as in part a liberation of the United States from years of Russia disinformation and behind-the-scenes manipulation.

But where have these purged conservatives gone?

One answer is that they have fled from Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and all the rest of them, to the messaging app Telegram. Indeed Telegram has been making hay, portraying itself as the home of free speech, and inviting people to defect to it en masse. Adverts have been popping up on my computer screen, showing a deleted Twitter symbol alongside the words ‘Leave Censorship’, followed by Telgram’s symbol and the words ‘Choose Freedom’, and then the hashtag ‘#LeaveTwitterJoinTelegram’.

But what is Telegram? It’s a Russian app, that’s what. And it’s doing really well from the media purge in America. This week the number of Telegram subscribers passed 500 million, with tens of millions having joined in just a couple of weeks.

From a Russian point of view, the irony is sweet: suddenly, America is the home of censorship, and Russia the home of free speech. More broadly, the irony lies in the fact that the assault on Russian disinformation has driven tens of millions of people into the hands of the Russians. You kinda gotta laugh.

And it’s not just Telegram. Also involved in this story is a conservative rival to Twitter which goes by the name of Parler (I’ve heard people pronounce this as ‘parlour’, but Americans don’t speak French any more than they do irony, so I guess we have to forgive them). Founded in 2018, Parler attracted conservatives who felt that Twitter was censoring them, and to that end it advertised itself as a bastion of free speech.

Until a couple of weeks ago, Parler had somewhere around 2 million users, making it something of a minnow on the social media scene. Nevertheless, it was deemed sufficiently objectionable for the rest of the internet community to gang up to shut it down, first throwing it off the various app stores from which people downloaded it, and then denying it access to any computer servers.

So what has Parler done about it? According to today’s news, it’s moved to Russia, finding a new home on the servers of the Russian tech company DDoS-Guard. It expects to be back online and operating again by the end of January.

Heh, heh, heh. Just a few weeks ago, left-wing conspiracy theorists were claiming that Parler was a Russian asset. Well, guess what? It wasn’t, but then you shut it down, and now it is! How’s that for irony?

Now, I want to be clear about one thing. I’m not a fan of the sort of right-wing nutjobbery which got Trump and so many of his supporters thrown off social media. I don’t follow those kind of people, have never used Parler, and don’t intend to. Sadly, the internet is in part a beautiful source of wonderfully useful information and in part a cesspool of rotten filth. I can see why people want to do something about the latter.

But part of what makes the cesspool is the fact that the internet encourages people to self-isolate among those who share their own out-of-the-way beliefs. At least if they are all together on the same platforms, there’s a chance that they might be subjected to some alternative points of view now and again. But that changes once you boot them out. At that point, you don’t actually shut them up. As we’ve seen above, they just find somewhere else to go. But now they’re by themselves even more than they were before. How that is meant to help make things better, I really don’t know. I fear that it will just add to embittered sense of persecution that lies behind so many of America’s current political problems.

Meanwhile, as American social media rips itself apart, Russian internet providers are raking in the profits. It’s ironic, don’t you think?

21 thoughts on “Ironic”

  1. Parler has very bad security usability as well as very poor security (verified user data got hacked a few days ago, is now surely being sifted over by the FBI). I got the impression it was more of a GOP-connected grift than anything else from the start. Gab is much more impressive in that respect.

    Still, the problem they both have is they lack the massive network effects (everyone and their dog has a profile there) that mainstream social media such as Twitter or Facebook have, so I don’t expect much from them beyond being ideological echo chambers.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Re: “Now, I want to be clear about one thing. I’m not a fan of the sort of right-wing nutjobbery which got Trump and so many of his supporters thrown off social media. I don’t follow those kind of people, have never used Parler, and don’t intend to.”

    ****

    At last notice, none of the arrested Americans from the recent DC protest have used Parler. Some of the have used Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

    ————————–

    Re: “According to today’s news, it’s moved to Russia, finding a new home on the servers of the Russian tech company DDoS-Guard. It expects to be back online and operating again by the end of January.”

    ****

    According to at least one source, Parler isn’t using that Russian venue.

    ————————–

    Re: “From a Russian point of view, the irony is sweet: suddenly, America is the home of censorship, and Russia the home of free speech. More broadly, the irony lies in the fact that the assault on Russian disinformation has driven tens of millions of people into the hands of the Russians. You kinda gotta laugh.”

    ****

    A related article from a good venue dealing with Russian matters:

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/01/18/trump-ban-only-free-speech-zone-for-american-conservatives-russia/

    You can have Meduza along some others

    Like

  3. “But now they’re by themselves even more than they were before. How that is meant to help make things better, I really don’t know.”

    Like

  4. > I can see why people want to do something about the latter.

    I wouldn’t put it like that. In my experience, people who “want to do something about the latter” often belong to it themselves, just to a different variety. And those who aren’t typically want to do it in a way other than wholesale purges.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Now, I want to be clear about one thing. I’m not a fan of the sort of right-wing nutjobbery which got Trump and so many of his supporters thrown off social media.”

    How do you know it was “nutjobbery”; did you rear it yourself, or do you accept establishment media’s characterization of it? I mean, if it was all nutjobbery, why would they ban it?

    Besides, the fact that the ruling class is comprised of shape-shifting alien reptilians is hardly a controversy…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1.) Very good point, Mao: That American overlords are reptilian in their primal shapes is a proven fact that few can deny.
      2.) I was among those who thought that “Parler” was pronounced “Par-lour”, having never heard anyone say it out loud or use it in a sentence, as in “I am switching my moronic remarks from Twitter to Parler.”
      3.) Professor, are you saying that the word is actually to be pronounced “Parlez” as in “parlez-vous français?” See, I know French, I’m not a moron!
      🙂
      4.) MAGA-morons aren’t just switching their platforms, a bunch of them (I was reading in RT yesterday) also want to hand in their U.S. passports and move to Russia. A little advice for Russia: PLEASE DON’T TAKE THEM! They are sure to bring down the collective IQ. Besides, they don’t even speak Russian, and most of them are too old, or too dumb, to learn at this point.

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      1. I have assumed that the name was taken from the French verb ‘parler’, because the app is somewhere you speak. But that is just an assumption.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Puzzles:
        parler-parlour easy to check phonetically, the expert should have realised, it feel. Transcription being on the lower linguistic levels.

        American thought processes behind the label is open to anyone’s guess.

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  6. Side question. What qualifies an app as “Russian” – its user base, its devs or the location of its servers?

    Parler, an American-made microblogging site with large anglophone and Saudi user bases, recently moved its servers to Russia. And yet it already shares a “Russianness” (here in this post, I mean) with Telegram messenger, which has Russian origins and a significant Russian-speaking user base but which does not keep servers in Russia (its founder, Pavel Durov, disagrees with Russian IT regulations and left in 2014 following the takeover of VK. The devs are said to be hopping from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and are currently based out of Dubai).

    So, what are the most important criteria here?

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      1. A perfect example are the number of lie filled delusional Tweets at Evelyn Farkas’ account, which hasn’t been suspended for expressing fake news. In her instance stating as fact:

        – Russian government paid Taliban (suspect opinion at best)

        – Putin poisoned Navalny (suspect opinion at best)

        – Russians interfered in her congressional bid (flat out lie, no ands, ifs or buts)

        As late as this past August, Farkas boasted (at the top of her Twitter account) that she sounded the alarm on Trump-Russia.

        She has a knack of getting softball segments on the BBC, CNN and MSNBC – the last of the aforementioned paying her a reported near $90K salary for a few under 5 minute appearances.

        The NYT, Council on Foreign Relations and National Interest are among the venues coddling her deceit.

        Like

  7. And even more IRONY coming from American Hero Scott Ritter. Okay, I admit I am reading too much RT lately, but their coverage seems to have suddenly gotten better, actually really good, as soon as Trump was out of the way.

    I admire Scott Ritter in a lot of ways, but obviously he is completely deluded if he thinks Biden will do anything other than commit unspeakably evil acts while in office.

    But my focus is on this: Scott’s unconscious irony (unless he is being sarcastic, which I don’t even think he is) when he pens this:

    I joined some 75 million Americans in casting a vote for his competition, the now former-president Donald Trump. Unfortunately for Trump, over 80 million Americans cast their vote for Biden. More critically, these 80-odd million votes were spread out among the 50 states in a manner that gave Biden 306 electoral votes – 36 more than the 270 needed to secure victory in a manner mandated by the US Constitution.

    Does anyone see what I see here? How very convenient it was for the Dems that their excess 5 million votes just happened to be spread out in such a way that they nailed the districts and swing states that they needed? I can just imagine Hillary and her cronies back in the command center: “We need more votes in Pennsylvania District X – bring ’em in.” “Yes, ma’am, on it right away….” LOL!

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    1. Actually, most of Biden’s excess votes were piled up unnecessarily in California, where Biden got 5 million more votes than Trump. So that rather puts a nail in the coffin of your theory.

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      1. I wanted to point this out too (about California). But what I checked, it appears that, unlike 2016 (and 2000), in 2020 the D’s popular vote advantage is not entirely covered by California.

        I believe at some point it was, because I’ve seen comments to that effect a few days after the election, but then they found more Biden votes outside California, I guess.

        Like

      2. Yeah, Biden didn’t need more votes in California, that’s true. But he managed to eke out some amazing extras in states like Georgia and even Texas! (In Texas, not enough to push him over the top, but came surprisingly close.) Just a few here, a few there, just a little boost…

        Like

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