But those purged from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will find their alternatives comparatively obscure, and while their freedom to speak will be intact, their reach will be diminished and their audiences fractured.
Even the most extreme voices — QAnon enthusiasts, Proud Boys, “boogaloo bois,” white supremacists, anti-Semites — have found ways to keep talking to each other online after mainstream platforms expelled them — or, to use an increasingly popular term, “de-platformed” them. What got dramatically curbed was their ability to talk to everyone else.
“I’m hearing some conversations that seem to suggest that de-platforming is a cure-all for radicalization, and that is not at all what the evidence suggests,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, an extremism researcher at Queen’s University in Ontario. “What de-platforming does is disrupt networks, makes it harder for individuals to find each other again, shatters the trust that existed between them [and] takes the megaphone away.”