Jan. 6th Rioter Sues Parler for $370 Million Because It Banned Him Over Threats
Source: Shutterstock.com (Shutterstock)

The January 6th United States Capitol convict Troy Smocks has sued Parler Inc. for $370 million for allegedly violating Texas social media law over censoring users’ accounts based on political beliefs.

Alleged Violation of Texas Law: Parler Social Media Platform Facing Potential Fine

Parler, a now dormant social media app, has been sued by Troy Smocks over the breach of Texas’s controversial bill of rights, which shuns all social platforms from restricting users’ accounts due to contradicting political views.

If the plaintiff (Smocks) wins the lawsuit, Parler will be required to pay $370 million to him for censoring his account over published text posts geared towards political violence on the app.

The legal lawsuit names Parler, former CEO John Matze, and billionaire right-wing philanthropist Rebekah Mercer as defendants.

Although Troy Smocks wasn’t one of the physical rioters at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., attack on January 6th, 2021, he claims to have been met with the harshest legal action.

Due to his violent incitement posts on Parler’s online hub, Troy Smocks was arrested and pleaded guilty to being linked to the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building and making interstate threats.

Months later, Smocks was sentenced to 14 months in Federal prison. However, his plea was geared towards his recent legal headwinds because of his black race and unaltered support of political candidate Donald Trump.

In his guilty plea, the online rioter also accused Parler’s social platform of violating a controversial Texas law when his account was banned.

texas law
Source: Forbes

The Texas law passed in 2021 prohibits social media platforms from restricting or censoring users based on political beliefs.

The law also prohibits the government from interfering with citizens’ right to express their opinions, including those of corporations, freely.

Taking down a post or account is perceived as a limit to freedom of speech. However, experts believe this may not be relevant in Troy Smock’s case.

The Texas social media statute makes specific exceptions to cases whereby speeches or posts are directly incited to trigger criminal activity or air threats of violence.

Smocks’ rant on Parler’s social app did exactly that. The rioter Parler’s username was “Colonel007,” tied to impersonating police or military force.

He also posted incitements of violence that promoted the use of weapons which triggered other Parler users to follow suit.

Prior to the riot on January 6th, 2021, Smocks had registered over 17 conviction cases from the age of 18, which is a negative addition that waters down his guilty plea.

However, his lawsuit asserts that his account on Parler was censored because he supported Donald Trump.

Smocks’ case seems to be mostly a lost cause because he admitted to threatening multiple people, which is not only illegal but it’s also against Parler’s Terms of Service, giving it a great reason to ban him no matter what politics he believed in.

However, it will still be an interesting case because the decision will set a new precedent under the Texas censor law.

Should there be a development of the supposed $370 million lawsuit against Parler, it will be interesting to see the court’s verdict and its impact on Smock’s detention and Parler’s downgrading online presence.

Parler’s Insurrectionist Defense Was Not Sufficient by App Stores

Amidst the development of the United States Presidential Election in 2020, Parler’s social media app was one of the many online channels used for insurrectionist activities ranging from violence to planned terrorist attacks.

Parler ban
Source: ProPublica

According to a Washington Post report, Parler sensed the growing violence incitement activities on its platform and reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for transparency and further legal action.

However, the FBI did not take the needed action to prevent forthcoming as GPS tags showed users of Parler’s breaching the U.S. Capitol Building.

The development also led to legal backlashes and a temporary ban from the Google Play Store and Apple’s store for the failure to moderate users of its platform.

Kanye West’s Failed Bid to Buy Parler: Another Steep Decline of the Online Media Platform

This lawsuit brought back Parler into the news but the app has had an incredibly eventful last few years.

Famed rapper Kanye West dodged a bullet when his attempt to buy the now failing platform fell apart.

In October 2020, West was reportedly acquiring an alternative social media platform, Parler, after his Instagram and Twitter accounts were suspended amidst antisemitic posts about Jewish people.

It wasn’t long before Parler announced on Twitter that it had reached an initial agreement with the Hip Hop rapper to acquire the platform.

The acquisition was centered on Parler’s future goal of creating an online hub where everyone can air their voices without fear of suspension.

Although the announcement created a large buzz due to Kanye West’s undoubted influence, the messaging platform announced on Twitter that there’s been a mutual termination of the plan just weeks after an agreement was made.

While back-and-forth in the sale of companies and platforms is common in the business world, Parler’s failure to secure a buyout may contribute to the company’s decline in popularity.

Already, the messaging hub has struggled to compete with big leaders like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp. However, there may be further fallout and an anticipated closure due to a lack of revenue for continual functionality.

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