PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Republican Party chairwoman Sue Cienki said she plans to report to law enforcement a Parler.com account that was made under the party’s name and promoted false claims about the presidential election.
The account was created on the same day Twitter permanently banned President Trump and just days before Parler, a social media website favored by conservatives, was booted from Amazon and Google web services, among others tech platforms.
“I’m disturbed that somebody would take our platform and speak on behalf of the party,” Cienki told 12 News. “It’s a fake account. It does not speak for the party at all.”
The Parler account was designed in the same way as the Rhode Island GOP’s official Twitter account. It had the same profile photo, banner and username: @RhodeIslandGOP.
In addition to notifying law enforcement, Cienki told 12 News she will reach out to Parler to report the account and asked party members not to follow it — if the website comes back online in the future. For now, Cienki said she isn’t jumping to any conclusions about who might be behind it.
“I have absolutely no idea who it is, so I’m not accusing anyone yet but we will investigate,” Cienki said to 12 News.
The fake account promoted false claims about voter fraud in the presidential election, supporting the debunked claim that it was rigged and Trump was the rightful winner.
The posts are currently unavailable because Parler has been shut down. But online researchers have said they were able to collect information — such as usernames, emails and some geolocation data — before the website shutdown, which could show in the future who is behind the account.
Parler has been criticized for encouraging violence and helping demonstrators organize the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Parler CEO John Matze defended the platform, saying web services like Amazon and Google have banned it “to stifle free speech and competition in the market place. This could happen to literally anybody.”