Parler, the new 'right-wing Twitter' is a safe place to spew 'alternative facts'
Launched in 2018, it lets people upload images and write posts with 1,000 characters - and it almost doubled its users to 8-million after Trump's loss
We've often been told that one or other upcoming site will be "the new Facebook" — a new take on social media that will have us switching from the monolithic sites that have for over a decade dominated how billions communicate and receive their information.
There have been promises of greener pastures with no adverts and/or no interest tracking. A new haven for the young, or marketplaces of social currency traded on similar interests. However, none of them really stuck beyond a week when they went up against the social big five: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linked In and TikTok. None of these new sites ever truly offered a carrot big enough to completely drag users away. Until now.
"Speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being 'deplatformed' for your views" is the first line you see when you go Parler, pronounced parlour, a social platform that shot to the top of the downloaded free app list on Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store after the US election ended with victory for Joe Biden.
Labelled the new "right-wing Twitter", Parler, which launched in 2018, almost doubled its users from 4.5-million to 8-million in the week after President Donald Trump's loss.
The link between Parler and Twitter is an easy one to make. Just like its counterpart, Parler has a central newsfeed where all the posts or "Parleys" of the accounts you follow reside. Here you can upload images and write posts with 1,000 characters instead of Twitter's 280 — all the better to have your say.
Whatever you'd rather not see on your profile or feed, we give you the tools you need to do your own 'shadow-banning'Parler
Curiously, for a site that pushes the idea of free speech as its main agenda, it also offers their users "a robust set of tools" that allows them to curate their newsfeed to the point that they can omit words they don't like from their screens:
"Whatever you'd rather not see on your profile or feed, we give you the tools you need to do your own 'shadow-banning' — while still leaving everyone else free to decide for themselves what they wish to see on their profiles and feeds," the site says.
You can only imagine the lengths to which people will go to not see any sneaking instances of left-wing "lamestream" reports with agenda-like words such as "Biden", "abortion" or "almond milk latte".
It would seem that Twitter's warning labels and Facebook's (albeit weak) attempts to crack down on political information were the last straw for those, the world over, who like to believe in "alternative facts" and are now flocking to a site which in it's community guidelines calls itself "a social platform in the spirit of the First Amendment to the United States constitution".
Apart from it being endorsed, and driven by, major right-wing influencers, media players who were banned from other sites for their illegal and dangerous views, and conservative politicians like Ted Cruz and Devin Nunes, the biggest draw appears to be that there are only two guiding principles to take heed of according to the guidelines: no criminal activity allowed and no spam.
But it's curious that in the wake of the site's gaining popularity, its founder, John Matze, had to parley that despite its "very few basic rules", users may still be banned for other reasons, stating: "When you disagree with someone, posting pictures of your faecal matter in the comment section WILL NOT BE TOLERATED".
So defecation is prohibited, but not defamation.
And with those caveats in place, we now have an additional blood-red social silo that allows the echelons of misinformation to run free. Right now, the site is best labelled as one to watch, but it's more recent attempts to pry Trump away from Twitter may truly be a reason for concern.
News site Axios has reported that multiple sources confirm that Trump is considering starting his own digital media company to rival Fox News — if he ever leaves the White House, that is.
But if Parler was able get a small chunk of his 86-million Twitter followers, it might really become a covfefe* for us all. Luckily, it appears that nothing and no-one has ever been successful at peeling Potus away from Twitter, so we might have some fact-checking sprinkled with his rants for a while longer.
*Covfefe: Polite, humorous way to say bullshit. Potus Donald Trump originally coined this term in late May 2017, five months into his presidency.
SOME PARLER USERS
• Donald Trump's third child, Eric Trump, businessman and former reality television personality.
• White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
• Trump's Republican allies Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz.
• Conservative commentator Dan Bongino, who has close to 1-million followers on the platform.
• Ron Paul, Republican congressman and presidential candidate, who co-hosts The Ron Paul Liberty Report on YouTube, providing political commentary.
• Logan Cook, aka Carpe Donktum, a prominent pro-Donald Trump meme maker.
• Milo Yiannopoulos, pen name Milo Andreas Wagner, a British far-right political commentator, polemicist, public speaker and writer who ridicules Islam, feminism, social justice and political correctness.
• Proud Boys creator Gavin McInnes, Canadian writer and political commentator known for promoting violence against political opponents. Proud Boys is a far-right, neo-fascist and male-only political organisation that promotes and engages in political violence.
• Anti-Muslim far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, who has been banned from several platforms, is using Parler to promote her Florida congressional campaign.
• Candace Owens, conservative author, commentator, and political activist once critical of Trump but now known for her increasingly pro-Trump activism as a black woman. She once claimed that "if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine". Critical of Black Lives Matter.
• After her permanent ban from Twitter, Katie Hopkins has found an audience on Parler, where she's criticised Premier League players for supporting Black Lives Matter and blamed Muslims for a spike in coronavirus. She was a contestant on the third series of The Apprentice in 2007. She made the documentary Killing Fields about farm murders in SA.