What is Parler? Inside the new 'free speech' conservative social media platform looking to take on FB and Twitter
After Twitter permanently suspended pro-Donald Trump meme account Carpe Donktum for repeated violations of its copyright policy, many pro-Trump supporters are claiming to leave Twitter to join Parler, a US-based social networking service that is marketed as an unbiased, free-speech alternative to Twitter. Carpe Donktum rose to viral fame among conservatives after several of their doctored videos were shared by United States President Donald Trump, most recently a satirical video mocking CNN, which was later disabled because of copyright complaints made by the content owner.
The video in question came to be known as the "racist toddlers" video and featured an edited version of a viral clip of two toddlers -- one black and one white -- running towards each other and hugging before running away together. The doctored video also featured ominous music and a fake CNN chyron suggesting that the "racist" white child was chasing the "black" child to propagate Trump's rhetoric of "fake news" and that news organizations were distorting reality. It is not just the United States where conservatives seem to be moving to Parler. After the British media personality, Katie Hopkins was permanently banned from Twitter last week, many of her fans pivoted to Parler thinking that a verified account belonged to her. However, it was later revealed to be a fraudulent account.
Parler was launched in August 2018 and regarded as an alternative to Twitter. Users post “Parleys” (similar to tweets) that can be commented on, “echoed” (like retweets), and voted on (similar to Twitter's like feature). The social media network is available on the web as well as the App Store for iOS users and the Play Store for Android users. The platform presented itself as a place where no one would be banned, have their content taken down, or even experience brief suspension for posting questionable content. Parler soon gained prominence with Trump supporters and started hosting Twitter-banned icons of the alt-right.
In May 2019, founder John Matze said the site had approximately 100,000 users in total. In June, 200,000 Saudi Arabian users joined the site to protest claimed censorship from Twitter. Parler described these accounts as part of the "the nationalist movement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." Twitter had approximately 326 million users at the time. Currently, Parler has just over 1 million users. In Parler's guidelines, it references the Federal Communications Commission's definition of obscene content which asks if the work is sexual in nature, if it is "offensive" and whether "the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Parler instead advises its users not to "use language/visuals which is sexual in nature" and not to "use language/visuals that are offensive and offer no literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."
However, despite many of Trump's supporters moving to Parler, the President has so far not made the move himself yet. Prominent users of Parler include Donald Trump's sons, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, Eric Trump's wife, Lara Trump, far-right activist, Laura Loomer, Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, far-right activist, Candace Owens, Fox News host Mark Levin, White House deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino, and British far-right activist, Milo Yiannopolous. California Representative Devin Nunes is also a user of Parler, having tweeted earlier this month, "Everyone should join Parler! They don’t change content or feed you leftist propaganda."
In the aftermath of Carpe Donktum's permanent ban, it looks like many more of Trump's followers are set to join Parler. One user tweeted, "Carpe [Donktum] has been banned from Twitter for no apparent reason. He did NOTHING wrong besides make amazing memes. People are moving to Parler at an ever-increasing level!" Another wrote, "FYI Parler has no bias or left-wing control. Twitter is becoming ridiculous." One user tweeted, "The purge is happening 33 friends and patriots I know including @CarpeDonktum have been purged off of Twitter. MAKE YOUR ACCOUNT NOW. Get on Parler quickly so we can all reconnect over there. See you there!" Another wrote, "I've made the switch to Parler f**k this platform and its anti-free speech antics." Actress and Trump supporter, Kristy Swanson tweeted, "I’ve been on @parler_app for a year. Don’t tell anyone."
According to the Jewish News website Forward, the app is “full of fury, fear and conspiracy theories” with notable antisemitism and Islamophobia." “The belief that Jews are running the world, encouraging immigrants to flood America’s borders, controlling the media and generally working behind the scenes as master puppeteers are easy to find on Parler” the publication continues.