Guns And Social Media

An Aimpoint PRO red dot sight Nothing to do with the article. Just thought it looked cool when I photographed it.

As expected, the major social media networks have been on a tear lately against Second Amendment and firearms pages. Tacticasht was unpublished by Facebook yesterday. A few weeks back, Mrgunsngear was subject to the same fate (though FB claimed it was an “error” and walked it back), Pat McNamara’s Instagram page got nuked, and we’d be here all night listing the 2A Twitter accounts that have been shut down. While each and every social media service is free to set their own terms and conditions, the enforcement is often biased, capricious, and arbitrary.

So, what’s a gun guy or girl looking to stake a claim in the digital universe to do?

To be blunt, it’s not a simple answer. While we’ve been down this road before, the issue does deserve to be revisited, as the sands have shifted a bit over the past year or so.

We’ll start out with the alternatives.

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Alternatives To Facebook, Instagram, And Twitter

Since we last spoke of this, the landscape of social media has changed. The “alternative” networks have grown, evolved, and started solidifying their footprints in the world. We’ll break it down by network, and analyze their “gun-friendliness” as well as downsides. I’ll link to my own channels if I’m on there.

Parler

Parler started out in 2018. Developed by John Matze and Jared Thomson at first, the intent was to provide a free-er speech alternative to Twitter, providing a home to conservative and libertarian personalities big and small whose caustic wit may have landed them afoul of the censors on the Big Two. Initially, Parler had an admittedly rocky start. I remember the app being very crash-prone, and the interface was broken half the time. The developers freely admitted the problems, and after it’s initial spurt of activity, the network seemed poised to fail.

However in May and June of 2020, rumors abounded of Parler becoming the new home of President Donald Trump. His team, both individually and collectively as Team Trump, had already staked a claim, and hundreds of thousands of people signed up, hoping to see when POTUS finally made the big move. I went back, and found a very mature and stable product, and personally began to use it in earnest. President Trump hasn’t shown up yet though. I have a feeling this is logistical rather than political, since the network does occasionally slow down still. POTUS shitposting may very well grind it to a halt. They are probably working feverishly to get things up to par.

I call Parler “free-er speech” since they’ll delete pornographic and erotic content. Smut may or may not appeal to you, but it’s one of the litmus tests of free speech. They also police egregiously hateful conduct which keeps them (for now) in the good graces of the Apple App Store and Google Play.

There are promoted posts, but it seems to be rare at the moment as Parler refines it’s service.

Gun-Friendliness Of Parler

Parler is very much gun-friendly. I regularly post links to this blog there, as well as direct product links to items i find of interest, including rifles, suppressors, Ivan The Troll files, and automatic weapons. No one has said a word, even when I’ve directly called out the founders. Post your gun stuff with confidence. It won’t get taken down. Personalities like Maj Toure, Colion Noir, the NRA, and Mrgunsngear have set up shop, so the platform holds promise for us Second Amendment Radicals.

The Downsides Of Parler

Right now, Parler seems to be a bit of an echo chamber. Even with John’s “bait” of $25K (might be more now), no prominent progressive/liberal commentator has taken to the platform. I think they feel that since there’s no Jack Dorsey on Parler, they won’t enjoy the marked advantages they do on Twitter. A bit of a cop-out, but OK. Parler also requires that you submit a copy of your ID to get verified, which I’m not down with, but OK. Also, video uploading seems to break on occasion.

I’m On Parler - Click Here

Gab

Gab started in 2016 as (of course) a free-speech alternative to Twitter. Much like any alpha product, the start was a bit rocky. Apple refused their iOS app, and the Android app can only be side-loaded, i.e. not through the Google Play store. Gab ingeniously pivoted, and redid themselves as the basis for a social media protocol, based on Diaspora. What this means is you can download a Diaspora app such as Tootle, point it at Gab, and you now have a “Gab App”. Other Diaspora nodes exist so Apple cannot ban the app since it “may” connect to Gab. Gab is also open-source, so you can actually see how it all works. Like Parler, Gab has a verification mechanism, but it requires that you be a paying user for the “PRO” tier. There are ads, but it’s still very much rare as Gab works out the kinks.

Gab is like Twitter, but with some Facebook thrown in with their groups feature. Gab also has their Dissenter browser and Dissenter platform, which seems to be a Disqus comments section alternative.

Gab has had some notable downtime, including when they went offline for a few days after the Pittsburgh synagouge shooting in October 2018, since the shooter apparently posted his intent on Parler. They’ve also had their domain registry suspended, and had to switch hosts a few times. As of right now they seem to be stable. Gab is definitely much more “free-er” than Parler. Outside of direct threats and violence, Gab is pretty much anything-goes. Tread lightly, you’ll find genuine racists and other assorted trash on the platform. Those are the breaks, I guess.

Gun-Friendliness Of Gab

Gab is very gun-friendly. I post my content without any pushback, and they have zero objections to the direct linking of firearms for sale. I’ve also never seen them push back on private sales, either. As of yet I don’t see any notable gun personalities on Gab. However, there’s plenty of firearms enthusiasts and all manner of gun-dedicated groups. I’ve learned a lot from some of them.

The Downsides Of Gab

Gab is very much an echo chamber. While there are a few progressive/liberal personalities on the platform, their feeds are blank, so it’s evident they are just there to lurk. While it’s nice not having to play comment-section warfare with a bunch of unschooled buffoons, I do believe that it’s important to have some pushback from an opposition, simply to keep us sharp.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, there’s actual, out-about-it racists on Gab. They make no qualms about it. Which is nice so you can avoid them. This little factor will probably keep serious advertisers away from Gab. Outside of nuance, Gab tends to be known as “That Nazi Website” or something similar.

Also, since Gab is a lightning rod of sorts, there always exists the possibility of it getting knocked offline via it’s host or registrar. It’s also largely crowdfunded right now, so their finances aren’t as certain as Parler.

I’m On Gab - Click Here

Brownells

Telegram

Telegram started off in 2013 as a security-conscious alternative to WhatsApp. Since then, it’s mutated into a beast of it’s own, with channels, groups, as well as a robust video and audio conferencing/call feature, if you feel like you actually need to call someone. Telegram has come under scrutiny for being developed by a team of Russians, but their founder, Pavel Durov, is no friend of the local regime and has the main team located in Berlin. Sure, the Germans these days aren’t much better than the Russians (sorry, it’s true) but it’s a start. Like Gab, Telegram is open source, so you can see how it all works, and make contributions of your own to the code.

Telegram is basically a free-for-all with almost zero censorship. Blatantly harmful content is reported quickly by the community and is taken down rather fast. Which is easy since Telegram has over 400 million users right now. However, certain channels are “policed” in the sense that they won’t display on App Store/Google Play devices. This is an ingenious workaround to the censorship problem - Telegram doesn’t censor the channel fully, but instead makes it invisible via the app. The workaround is to use the desktop app, or the web-based UI, which actually works quite respectably in mobile. The app stores cannot police websites, ast it were.

Gun-Friendliness Of Telegram

As I said above, Telegram runs with minimal censorship. Gun channels and groups abound, with both retail and private sales happening. It’s up to the users to determine the legality, as it should be. Right now, the only gun personalities on Telegram tend to be more cutting-edge kinds like En Bloc Press. The larger guys and girls may use the app, but from what I can see have yet to stake their claim.

The Downsides Of Telegram

Telegram isn’t a “social network” in the sense we think about it. It’s more like WhatsApp in that it’s a one-to-one communications tool with some broadcast and group features attached to it. There’s no global feed where you can just peruse content at your leisure - you have to have an idea of who or what you are looking for.

Telegram’s also been demonized as a “terror” tool by some folk, but that’s entirely untrue. Staking your claim might lead to some blowback, but if you’re in the firearms world, you should be used to it.

I’m On Telegram - Click Here

GoWild

GoWild, in my mind, is the most successful gun-focused social media app to date. Launched fairly recently in 2018, it’s more broad than just guns, and caters to the outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes. Out of the gate, the app was stable and usable, and in a striking display of good sense that’s pretty uncommon in the tech world, only rolled out features to everyone when they were good and ready. For example, video worked from day 1 pretty much. Most apps seem to work on the “let’s take off and work on the engines while they’re running” ethos, but GW is very conservative in their development practices. It’s a great little app and I’m glad to see it growing. Their business model is ad-supported but it’s not obnoxious. The interface is like Instagram, but with global “trails” such as hunting, fishing, firearms, archery, and tactical where you can view posts on those subjects regardless if you follow the user or not. You can also filter by state for users that choose to share that info, so you can see what people are doing in your neck of the woods, as it were. They recently rolled out a desktop interface which is humming along nicely.

GoWild has a real name policy, though the display is firstname lastinitial so it’s somewhat filtered. I don’t think they police it too hard though since I’ve seen names like “Snake Eater” and so on.

Gun-Friendliness of GoWild

GoWild is extremely gun-friendly. I’ve posted photos, links to this blog, and also sales of firearms via retail outlets. I’m not sure on private sales since I’ve never seen any occur on the app. Brands and personalities have staked their claim, but thus far the brands are couched in advertising and the personalities tend towards outdoors rather than gun people.

The Downsides Of GoWild

GoWild’s downsides, if they can be regarded as such, is that it is super-focused on specific subjects. In a sense it could be regarded as a “gun” app which may place it at risk for removal from the App Stores. There’s a web UI like I mentioned though, so that could be a fallback for them. I haven’t seen any outrageous moderation, but that’s most likely since the community tends to police itself. There’s us crazy gun folk on there but we keep it to ourselves.

I’m On GoWild - Click Here

Should Firearms Enthusiasts, Gun Owners, and Second Amendment Radicals Abandon Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

In a word - no. If you are on those platforms and are able to post about the Second Amendment, sell guns, and promote guns, keep going. Make them take you down. Don’t do the work for them. All three platforms have billions of people on them, and at this time their sheer size can’t be ignored, even if the enforcement of their terms of service is capricious and arbitrary, and their management favors a certain part of the ideological spectrum. Make them roll the proverbial tanks on you. If they nuke your page, make a new one and fight to have your current one restored. Make them send cease-and-desist letters. Their petty threats only make them look bad.

I’m On Instagram - Click Here

I’m On Zuckbook - Click Here

I’m Not On Twitter. I’ve Been Banned Ten Times.

Establish Your Own Presence

If you’re looking to promote the cause of the Second Amendment and be a Second Amendment Radical, don’t rely on someone else’s patch of dirt exclusively. I’m not gonna lie, I’m actually a little surprised that some undeniably huge firearms personalities have bupkis for an actual website. It’s not hard to just pitch up a basic Wordpress install (don’t blame me when it gets hacked though), or roll something a little more secure using a static site generator like Hexo. Regardless, have your own site. Yes, the host or registrar can nix you, but that’s far less likely than some virtue-signaling Jabba The Hutt-looking moderator at Facebook looking to nuke gun pages and score points with her SJW friends in some San Francisco shantytown. Yeah I went there. Because I can.

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