To dig into Parler a bit today we need to start with the basics.
What is Parler?
It is yet another social media platform. What makes it rather distinct and unique is that the users are generally Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing extremists.
Dig in and you will find fear, hatred, and plenty of conspiracy theories … oh, and least I forget, porn.
Why is it like this?
The more traditional platforms such as twitter and facebook flag up postings and sometimes remove them as well. This quite rightly happens when such postings promote false claims, dangerous misinformation, and hate speech.
This angered those that viewed this as unwarranted “censorship” and so many have migrated to Parler.
Is it really only right-wing nutters?
The user base is officially 10 million, but the reality is that only about 4 million are active users.
Do they have any restrictions?
In other words this “Free Speech” platform censors speech they deem to be politically incorrect from their viewpoint.
Irony on Steroids
The goal of the platform was to have civilised open discussions. However, if your “discussion” is basically hate speech, fraudulent misinformation and xenophobia, then how can you possibly have a civilised discussion?
The answer is you can’t. What you get instead is fury and unwarranted fear blended into a very toxic cocktail.
The net effect is a forum for people to wallow in bigotry and unwarranted fear.
It really is a different universe
Here you will find a high degree certainty that Trump actually won the election and has had it stolen. Yes indeed, it is a place where facts really do not matter.
Here you will also find that QAnon and the Boogalooers have a safe space and can happily spout complete nonsense without being challenged.
The 2020 Election
The more traditional social media platforms clamped down hard on misinformation and hate speed in the run up to the election. The impact of that has been a migration to Parler, not just one or two, but millions.
Who Owns Parler?
Niemen Lab has an insight …
Dan Bongino, the highly popular right-wing commentator who published a book about the “deep state” conspiracy theory and frequently publishes unverified information, has at least a small ownership stake in the company. CEO John Matze has said that the ownership is composed of himself and “a small group of close friends and employees.”
Notably, conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, are investors in the platform. Rebekah Mercer helped co-found it with Matze. The Mercers are well known for their investments in other conservative causes, including Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign, Breitbart News and Cambridge Analytica. The connection to Cambridge Analytica has, in particular, alarmed experts, who worry that Parler may harvest unnecessary data from unwitting users.
What happens now?
Alex Newhouse, the research lead at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, sums it up as follows …
Online extremism and hate can lead to real-world violence by legitimizing extreme actions. Parler’s tolerance of hate, bigotry and affiliation with violent movements opens the possibility that, like Gab, one or more of its members will commit acts of violence.
In other words, it is not Trump you need to worry about. Instead is is the rise of this cesspit that should truly be the concern.