If you look at Apple’s App Store charts today, you’ll find an app called Parler sitting at the top of the free app category.
Haven’t heard of Parler? Let us explain.
What is Parler?
Parler is a social network founded by John Matze and Jared Thomson, two Nevada-based conservative programmers, in 2018. The website bills itself as a “free speech” microblogging alternative to platforms like Twitter. In the founders’ opinions, big tech companies clearly have an anti-conservative bias and censor those views.
During the summer of 2020, Parler became particularly popular with conservatives and Trump supporters as big social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter cracked down on misinformation. Users falsely claimed that new rules were targeting conservatives and that they’d been silenced.
While Parler was founded as a conservative social network, the platform didn’t take off until a surge of new users joined the app after President Trump’s tweets were slapped with misinformation warning labels by Twitter.
Right-wing personalities looking to practice free speech — meaning, publish without fact-checks —but wanting to avoid far-right platforms known for racism, like Gab, found a home at Parler.
The site is named after the French word meaning “to speak,” which is sort of funny if one remembers the anti-French discourse from conservatives in the early 2000s. Freedom fries, anyone?
According to mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower, Parler received an estimated 636,000 downloads from Google Play and the App Store in the U.S. on November 8. This topped Parler’s previous best day in June, when it received 119,000 new downloads. That was the day Twitter removed Trump’s manipulated “racist toddler” video because the copyright holder, the toddler’s parents, complained.
Sensor Tower estimates that Parler has received more than 980,000 downloads in the U.S. since election day. In total, the app has been downloaded around 3.6 million times in the U.S.
Who is using Parler?
Well, that depends on your definition of “using” Parler.
As previously mentioned, Parler signed up a slew of new users over the summer. Some of these Parler users were just looking for a new conservative-friendly home in addition to the other social networks they were on. Others had no choice, as their content resulted in bans on the mainstream social media platforms.
Jason Miller, one of President Trump’s senior advisors, even tweeted about moving to Parler from Twitter.
Right-wing personalities like Benny Johnson of Turning Point USA and Blaze TV host Allie Beth Stuckey also flocked to the site. Johnson tweeted that his followers should move to Parler because he was “done” with Twitter, which he described as “anti-free speech.”
10 years on Twitter.
Disgusted with the censorship on this platform.
Twitter is now so aggressively ANTI Free Speech, it’s not fun anymore.
Just got on @parler_app.
It’s refreshing, not like this communist gulag dumpster fire.
I’m @BennyJohnson on Parler.
Go there for🔥
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 24, 2020
However, as Will Sommer of The Daily Beast reported in July, many of these new conservative Parler users didn’t actually use the platform. Johnson, Stuckey, and Miller all contributed to user Twitter multiple times a day while their Parler accounts laid bare for months.
Now that the election is over and Joe Biden has been declared the winner, Parler is experiencing a new bump. It’s currently the number one free app on the iOS App Store.
And some of the users who abandoned Parler are coming back — at least for now. Johnson started posting on Parler on Sunday for the first time since August. Stuckey published a quick “hello” as well, her first post since July.
But Eric Trump, who has been posting nonstop on Twitter since the election, for example, hasn’t posted on Parler in a week, even after it’s gained in relevance again.
Does Parler “censor” users?
Many conservatives claimed they joined Parler because of alleged censorship on the major social media platforms. However, for a social network that markets itself as a “free speech” platform, there’s a lot of prohibited content that’s censored on Parler — and it’s not content Parler is legally bound to “censor” either.
Parler’s rules ban pornography, promoting marijuana, and obscenity. The site has already banned users for breaking some of the site’s more specific rules. Parler’s rules also state that “false rumors” are banned.
“Do not purposefully share rumors you know to be false about other users/people,” reads Parler’s guidelines.
This sounds a whole lot like a description of misinformation — the very reason many conservatives started using the website to begin with. (And it should be noted, platforms like Facebook and Twitter don’t ban users for most forms of misinformation. They simply add a warning label with a fact-check.)
How is Parler different from Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit?
Parler is a little like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit all combined, with a mashup of features from these social platforms. This also means it’s all very messy looking. The user interface has a lot of maturing to do if Parler wants itself taken seriously. It’s aesthetically unpleasing and very glitchy.
One can follow other Parler users, tag those users in their posts, “echo” other content — the equivalent of a share or retweet — and upvote posts they like. It’s a lot.
There’s one interesting feature to hand to Parler, though: Parler verification basically allows any user to confirm they are who they say they are. When a user submits a form of identification to Parler, they will receive a badge that shows other users that the platform has confirmed their identity.
This isn’t the equivalent of Twitter verification with blue checkmarks, though. Parler does have their own version of that, with gold badges for “Verified Influencers.” And, while many conservatives complain about people with “blue checkmarks” being handed VIP treatment on Twitter, Parler seems to promote their Verified Influencers even more. There’s even a “Discover” section that pushes content purely from these influencers.
But the biggest thing that sets Parler apart from other social media platforms is that users will find it’s almost impossible to use it without encountering conservative political content. That’s pretty much the entire user base, and it’s all they post about. There’s no other social media site like that (except maybe Facebook…OK, I kid! Sort of).
What’s the future of Parler?
Is Parler here to stay? It’s hard to tell. It’s become very popular on mobile app charts before. But many conservatives didn’t stick around for long. No “alternative” social networks, like Gab or Minds or BitChute, have broken through the big social media platforms to become just as popular. For comparison, Facebook has 2.7 billion users. Twitter has 330 million. Parler has an estimated 4.8 million.
Parler has also been experiencing stability issues due to the influx of new users over the past few days, which certainly won’t help in retaining people.
Parler faces all of the usual tech startup challenges: keeping users engaged on the site, staying competitive when most of its users’ friends are on more popular platforms, signing up new users from different circles and communities.
And Parler also faces unique challenges due to its politics. How do you keep your platform from turning into a white supremacist haven like other right-wing social media platforms without losing your “free speech” bona fides? And, once you start moderating that content, what’s going to keep conservatives from leaving a platform that no longer prioritizes “free speech”?
Perhaps, that’s a question for Dan Bongino to figure out. Bongino is a popular conservative personality. His posts on Facebook are often some of the most shared content on the entire site, beating out news outlets like CNN and Fox News and, sometimes, even President Trump.
In June, Bongino announced a partnership with Parler, including the news that he’d purchased an ownership stake in the company. The “free speech” social network has been plastered with his content ever since.
But, perhaps the biggest element determining Parler’s future is the president himself. A majority of the content on the site is centered around Trump. Yet, while his reelection campaign is quite active on the site, Trump is MIA on the platform. He doesn’t even have an account.
ที่มา : Mashable