Deplatforming In A Nutshell

Deplatforming describes the action of preventing a person deemed to hold unfavorable views from using certain websites, forums, or social media platforms. Deplatforming is undertaken by any individual, group, or organization that wants to censor speakers with controversial opinions by removing their platform. Censorship may be a result of racist or extremist views or any other action deemed to violate a platform’s terms of service. 

The effectiveness of deplatforming

The platform itself may be a social media account or any public venue where a large or influential group of people has assembled.

Deplatforming assumes that people who are prohibited from speaking about a certain topic will not have their message heard.

However, research has found that deplatforming has mixed results.

During a purge of alt-right accounts in 2016, tens of thousands of former Twitter users simply migrated to Gab.

Consequently, Gab become a haven for extremists and gained notoriety after a mass shooter posted his manifesto there in 2018.

Some argue that this is a classic case of the Streisand Effect, where attempts to suppress information have the opposite effect of making it more visible.

Conversely, a similar purge of discriminatory subreddits in 2015 was shown to be effective.

While a small percentage of banned users migrated to Voat, Reddit itself saw a significant decrease in new accounts promoting hate speech after the purge was completed.

Research has also conclusively determined that mainstream social media is the primary driver of traffic to websites with extreme content.

When this avenue is closed off, controversial figures lose their ability to whip social media users into a frenzy.

Unintended consequences of deplatforming

In limited cases, deplatforming can backfire on society. Consider these following instances:


After Gab users were eventually deplatformed, it managed to survive by using decentralized technologies.

The platform has also shown some degree of innovation by creating its own browser, allowing it to circumvent moderation.

Forced to innovate, Gab became a stronger, more unified, and more radicalized community that was more resistant to moderation and censorship.

Decentralization, so often lauded as a concept, also provided Gab users a free and unencumbered means of self-organization.


Telegram is a messaging app emphasizing privacy and encryption, launched in 2013. It doesn’t make money yet, while it raised over $1.7 billion in Initial Coin Offerings throughout 2018, halted by the SEC in 2019. Telegram wants to keep the app 100% free while trying to sustain its growth.

Instant messaging app Telegram became the platform of choice after several terrorist organizations were deplatformed from mainstream applications.

Although the audience had shrunk in relative terms, deplatforming caused terrorist activity to migrate to a less-visible and much less-regulated platform.

Here, deplatforming shifted users to an app that was arguably more suited to hate speech.

Telegram gives controversial individuals protection while giving them public and private messaging and broadcasting functionality.

This functionality solves what studies have called the “terrorist’s dilemma”, or the seeking of a medium with an ideal balance of operational security and public outreach.

Key takeaways

  • Deplatforming is the prevention of an individual, group, or organization holding defamatory views from disseminating those views to an audience.
  • Deplatforming effectiveness is mixed, but it most beneficial for causes where large social media platforms drive traffic to third-party websites. Purges undertaken by Reddit and Twitter reduced the amount of hate speech on their platforms with an inconsequential number of users migrating to other platforms. 
  • Deplatforming can strengthen certain movements by forcing them to unite and innovate. It can also shift extremist groups to platforms that are better suited to their modus operandi.

Connected Business Concepts

Economies of Scale

In Economics, Economies of Scale is a theory for which, as companies grow, they gain cost advantages. More precisely, companies manage to benefit from these cost advantages as they grow, due to increased efficiency in production. Thus, as companies scale and increase production, a subsequent decrease in the costs associated with it will help the organization scale further.

Diseconomies of Scale

In Economics, a Diseconomy of Scale happens when a company has grown so large that its costs per unit will start to increase. Thus, losing the benefits of scale. That can happen due to several factors arising as a company scales. From coordination issues to management inefficiencies and lack of proper communication flows.

Network Effects

In a negative network effect as the network grows in usage or scale, the value of the platform might shrink. In platform business models network effects help the platform become more valuable for the next user joining. In negative network effects (congestion or pollution) reduce the value of the platform for the next user joining. 

Negative Network Effects

In a negative network effect as the network grows in usage or scale, the value of the platform might shrink. In platform business models network effects help the platform become more valuable for the next user joining. In negative network effects (congestion or pollution) reduce the value of the platform for the next user joining. 

Creative Destruction

Creative destruction was first described by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, who suggested that capital was never stationary and constantly evolving. To describe this process, Schumpeter defined creative destruction as the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” Therefore, creative destruction is the replacing of long-standing practices or procedures with more innovative, disruptive practices in capitalist markets.

Happiness Economics

Happiness economics seeks to relate economic decisions to wider measures of individual welfare than traditional measures which focus on income and wealth. Happiness economics, therefore, is the formal study of the relationship between individual satisfaction, employment, and wealth.

Command Economy

In a command economy, the government controls the economy through various commands, laws, and national goals which are used to coordinate complex social and economic systems. In other words, a social or political hierarchy determines what is produced, how it is produced, and how it is distributed. Therefore, the command economy is one in which the government controls all major aspects of the economy and economic production.

Animal Spirits

The term “animal spirits” is derived from the Latin spiritus animalis, loosely translated as “the breath that awakens the human mind”. As far back as 300 B.C., animal spirits were used to explain psychological phenomena such as hysterias and manias. Animal spirits also appeared in literature where they exemplified qualities such as exuberance, gaiety, and courage.  Thus, the term “animal spirits” is used to describe how people arrive at financial decisions during periods of economic stress or uncertainty.

State Capitalism

State capitalism is an economic system where business and commercial activity is controlled by the state through state-owned enterprises. In a state capitalist environment, the government is the principal actor. It takes an active role in the formation, regulation, and subsidization of businesses to divert capital to state-appointed bureaucrats. In effect, the government uses capital to further its political ambitions or strengthen its leverage on the international stage.

Boom And Bust Cycle

The boom and bust cycle describes the alternating periods of economic growth and decline common in many capitalist economies. The boom and bust cycle is a phrase used to describe the fluctuations in an economy in which there is persistent expansion and contraction. Expansion is associated with prosperity, while the contraction is associated with either a recession or a depression.

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