California-Based Alternative Social Media Platform MeWe Is A Hot-Bed For Antigovernment Extremists, Militias, And Antisemitism

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May 3, 2022

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Introduction

The alternative social media platform MeWe, based in Los Angeles, California, has become a go-to alternative platform and a haven for antigovernment extremists and militias. While MeWe has described itself as an "uplifting" platform intolerant of hate speech and incitement to violence, violent extremist content is commonplace on the platform.[1]

Extremist content on the platform includes calls to publicly execute U.S. President Joe Biden, former U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and other politicians including U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Threats are also made against public figures such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and many others. Other extremists post antisemitic content including messages promoting Holocaust denial and threats to kill Jewish philanthropists.

As a result of being removed from mainstream social media platforms and perceived security concerns relating to these sites, extremists have been migrating to alternative social media networks such as MeWe. The platform's popularity has been on the rise, with MeWe gaining almost 2.5 million users in the week following the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot. MeWe had eight million members in June 2020, 12 million users by the end of 2020, and 16 million shortly after January 6.[2] The platform now has over 20 million users.[3]

The platform, founded in 2016 by Mark Weinstein, promotes its prioritization of privacy and bills itself as the "#1 Facebook alternative." In an October 1, 2021, op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Weinstein described MeWe as "the ad-free social network with data privacy and no content amplification or newsfeed manipulation."[4] In speaking about the origin of MeWe's name, Weinstein told Rolling Stone magazine: "My life is composed of me and then my 'we,' which is everybody that's part of my life. That's the we."[5]

Below is a table of contents of the full version of this report. The version of the report you are currently reading includes only a few examples from the full report.

Table of Contents

  • About MeWe And Its Creation
  • MeWe's Terms Of Service And Stance Toward Hate Speech
  • Anti-Government Extremist Content On MeWe
  • Threats Against U.S. President Joe Biden
  • Threats Against Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • Threats Against U.S. Former President Barack Obama
  • Threats Against U.S. Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton
  • Threats Against U.S. Speaker Of The House Of Representatives Nancy Pelosi
  • Threats Against Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci
  • Threats Against American Business Magnate Bill Gates
  • Threats Against World Economic Forum CEO Klaus Schwab
  • Threats Against U.S. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar
  • Threats Against General Mark Milley
  • Threats Against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg And The Media
  • Threats Against The UN
  • Threats Against Multiple Public Figures
  • General Threats Against U.S. Politicians And The U.S. Government
  • Antisemitic Content On MeWe
  • Holocaust Denial On MeWe
  • General Antisemitic Content On MeWe

About MeWe And Its Creation

MeWe is an alternative social media platform which was founded in 2016 by Mark Weinstein. MeWe's features include private and open groups, live voice and live video, voice messaging, secret chats with "double-ratchet encryption," and custom group profiles.[6]

In an interview with NTD News, Weinstein spoke about online privacy and his rationale for creating MeWe. He said: "[Privacy] is a massive concern... now nefarious actors, marketers, advertisers, politicians, countries can target you, manipulate your thoughts, your opinions... this is massively dangerous... democracy is being disrupted... I started MeWe to solve the problem... You don't have free will if your opinions are being manipulated by Facebook."[7]
 

According to the "MeWe Backstory," the idea for MeWe was founded out of Weinstein's dream "envisioning a social and chat app that would give people everywhere the most exciting and helpful sharing technology with privacy built into the design..."[8]

The platform's "Values" page reads: "MeWe is here to empower you and enrich your world... MeWe provides you the fun, uplifting and trustworthy communication platform that enhances your life, while delivering the respect and safety we all deserve."[9]

The platform bills itself as offering "the power of self-expression delivered under the umbrella of safety." It proceeds to add: "We believe that all of us should have the freedom to be our authentic selves online, without worrying about being spied on, targeted, or manipulated."[10]

MeWe's "Privacy Bill of Rights" states it is "uncompromising about trust, respect and integrity." It further adds that users have "full control over your newsfeed" and that MeWe does "not manipulate, filter, or change the order of newsfeeds." It also states that users have full control over their "permissions and privacy."[11]

MeWe's Terms Of Service And Stance Toward Hate Speech

In an interview with NPR, Weinstein voiced his aversion to being around hate speech and "violence inciters" online. He said: "I don't like sites that are anything goes," Weinstein said. "I think they're disgusting. Good people right and left and middle can't handle 'anything goes.' We don't want to be around hate speech. We don't want to be around violence inciters."[12]

Similarly, in an interview with Georgetown University shared to MeWe's YouTube channel on April 6, 2022, Weinstein spoke about MeWe's obligations to free speech. He said: "The principle of democracy is the legal support for disagreement... freedom of speech... this is the bedrock of democracy... we have very clear and strict terms and conditions. they're just fair. who am I to tell you whether your opinion is right or wrong, that's a very dangerous line we do our best not to cross. MeWe is for civil discourse... so if you're inciting violence, posting hate... then you're not invited to stay on MeWe. We have a jail system for our users... it's up to our Trust & Safety team... We don't care if you have an opinion about politics or anything... just keep it clean everybody."[13]

Moreover, MeWe's "Terms of Service" note that its users cannot "Violate any law or regulation... Stalk, harass, bully, intimidate, or harm another user. Post unlawful, harmful, obscene, or pornographic content... Post content that is hateful, threatening, harmful, incites violence; or contains graphic or gratuitous violence... Use MeWe to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory... Advocate, encourage, or assist any third party in doing any of the foregoing."[14]

The page also notes that MeWe wishes to "create a positive and helpful experience for our users. We want MeWe to be convenient, safe, and fun for you and your communities."

Antigovernment Extremist Content On MeWe

Threats Against U.S. President Joe Biden

On February 16, a MeWe user shared the link to an article titled "What Are You Hiding, Joe? Biden Admin Begs Court to Bury Bombshell Report on Dominion Voting Machines." Another user commented: "The only thing that scumbag Biden won is a fast track trial for TREASON." Another added: "Skip the trial and take him straight to the brick wall and SHOOT HIM!"

Threats Against Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

A user shared on February 16 a link from InfoWars titled "Trudeau Admits Real Purpose of Emergency Powers Is So Canadians Learn 'Consequences' of 'Breaking the Law." Another user commented: "Trudeau is SUCH a fuckwit! Canadians already know the consequences of breaking the law. But when the laws are UNJUST and IMMORAL, the People have a DUTY to break such laws! They also have a duty to ensure Trudeau HANGS!" Another added: "Just WHO THE FUCK does this fucking f**got scumbag think he is?"

Threats Against U.S. Former President Barack Obama

On April 6, a user posted an image of former president Obama with the text: "TRAITOR – SHADOW PRESIDENT, SHADOW GOVERNMENT, DEEP STATE." Another user wrote: "Obama harmed us more than ISIS, for which he is responsible. He belongs in GITMO." Another wrote: "No. What he deserves is a noose with a quick and sudden stop."

Threats Against U.S. Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton

A user shared on March 10 an image featuring Hillary Clinton, with text reading "THE MONSTERS AMONG US – PURE EVIL," and a message stating that "Hillary" and "Huma" terrorized a child. Another user wrote: "Crooked no good pathological liar and thief Hillary Clinton." Another commented: "No prosecution because she can take half of D.C. down with her. But it needs to be done with executions for the worst."

On April 10, a user posted a YouTube video titled, "You lying wretch: Hilton to Hillary Clinton." Another commented with an image of a guillotine.

Threats Against U.S. Speaker Of The House Of Representatives Nancy Pelosi

A user reshared on March 30 his post from 25 days ago reading: "Hey Pelosi, how about the 13 military personnel killed in Afghanistan when your hero withdrew. Along killing kids with his drone attack and leaving billions of tax payers military equipment. Let's not forget this." Another commented: "Pelosi should be hung for treason."

Threats Against Dr. Anthony Fauci

On March 15, a user posted a video titled, "Rand Paul Introduces New Bill to FIRE FAUCI." Another user commented: "I prefer prosecution and execution."

Threats Against General Mark Milley

On December 2, a user shared a photo featuring Donald Trump walking with General Mark Milley and William Barr. The word "Pig" is written on Barr and "Super Pig" is written on Milley. Another user wrote: "Milley should be hung!"

General Threats Against U.S. Politicians And The U.S. Government

On April 7, a user posted an image of a sniping rifle with the text: "IF YOU WANT TO STOP A CORRUPT POLITICIAN, USE ONE OF THESE. BUY IT, GET TRAINED, USE IT. AT THIS POINT IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE AMERICA." The user wrote: "Resharing the stuff of revolution. THE Long overdue revolution. Shooting any blue or red zio rat in the swamp is the only way to drain it." Another user replied: "Democrats and RINOS are good target practice." Another user commented: "I'm ready to lose my freedom to end my tyrannical gov's regime."

Antisemitic Content On MeWe

Holocaust Denial On MeWe

In February, a user a graphic featuring Hitler outside the gates of Heaven with the accompanying text: "YOU SURE I KILLED SIX MILLION JEWS? THEY AINT UP HERE." The user captioned the post: "They disappeared into thin air AGAIN" with two laughing face emojis.

 

*R. Dressler is a Research Analyst at the MEMRI DTTM.

 

[1]Npr.org/2021/01/22/958877682/fast-growing-alternative-to-facebook-twitter-finds-right-wing-surge-messy, January 22, 2021.

[2]Usatoday.com/story/tech/2021/01/20/mewe-social-network-gains-members-touts-privacy-over-facebook/4228797001/, January 20, 2021.

[3] Axios.com/mewe-expansion-fundraise-bf397083-4553-4775-84bb-95a17b1aa859.html, July 13, 2021.

[4]Wsj.com/articles/facebook-is-monopoly-metaverse-users-advertising-platforms-competition-mewe-big-tech-11633104247?msclkid=c0c9e3c7b6ac11ec9c907b950f9bda4a, October 1, 2021.

[5] Rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/mewe-anti-vaxxers-conspiracy-theorists-822746/, May 23, 2019.

[6] Linkedin.com/in/markfweinstein, accessed April 14, 2022.

[7] Ntd.com/americans-worried-about-online-privacy_735429.html, February 2, 2022.

[8] Mewe.com/about, accessed April 14, 2022.

[9] Mewe.com/values, accessed March 31, 2022.

[10] Mewe.com/values, accessed March 31, 2022.

[11] Mewe.com/about#bill, accessed April 14, 2022.

[12]Npr.org/2021/01/22/958877682/fast-growing-alternative-to-facebook-twitter-finds-right-wing-surge-messy, January 22, 2021.

[13] Youtube.com/watch?v=xhkNxfFp1r4, April 6, 2022.

[14] Mewe.com/terms, accessed March 31, 2022.

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