Image courtesy of TheSpinoff

By: Franchetta Groves 

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become a battleground for political discourse in recent years. The access to the worldwide web at our fingertips means that it has never been easier for each person to share their opinions. This is especially true during an election cycle as was seen this past year in the presidential election. 

However, a new social media site, called Parler, has been gaining popularity. The social media blogging site was founded in 2018 and markets itself as a bastion for freedom of speech. Parler’s platform says that they will not fact check or engage in content moderation outside of spam and criminal activity. This has led to an increase in conservative support, especially after Joe Biden was announced the winner of the 2020 election, and many conservative commentators expressed disappointment in sites such as Twitter and Facebook censoring or fact-checking their content. 

Twitter and Facebook have been fact-checking claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Conservative commentators, however, have felt that this fact-checking is being done with a bias and an agenda. These sentiments have led to conservative commentators expressing support and joining Parler. 

Right-wing commentator Laura Loomer encouraged her followers on Parler to join the site saying, “Twitter has aided the Democrat Party in stealing this election, and now everything Trump says is being silenced. Tell everyone you know to get on Parler.”

Loomer had previously been suspended from Twitter and Facebook for violating their rules after she tweeted that Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, was “anti-Jewish” and “pro-Sharia.” Other commentators such as Mark Levin and Senator Ted Cruz have voiced support for the app and encouraged others to join. 

The app was created in 2018 by University of Denver graduates Matze and Jared Thomson. According to the Parler website, they created the app because they were, “exhausted with a lack of transparency in big tech, ideological suppression, and privacy abuse.” The set up is very similar to that of Twitter’s in that you can follow accounts and users can post their thoughts in up to 1,000 characters. 

It has attracted a large conservative following, most likely due to the complaints of those on the right that big tech and social media companies have suppressed their speech. Twitter and Facebook have denied that they have censored conservative content and that they have been merely trying to prevent false information from spreading, especially information surrounding the 2020 election. This has been done by labeling posts which they believe have false information and slowing how quickly a post can be shared. Many conservatives believe that Parler has allowed them to have a platform where they can freely share their thoughts and opinions. 

“I think Parler is an amazing platform,” commented sophomore Kayla Maloney, “It’s obviously not as big as Twitter or Instagram, but a lot of big conservative thinkers have gained a massive following on it because so many people wanted to hear what they have to say in a place that they aren’t censored for what they believe in!”

Others have criticized the app for only catering towards right-wing rhetoric and not having intellectual diversity. Another concern has been that the app allows hate speech because the site’s terms of use do not prohibit it. As freelance author Bryan C. Parker commented, “Even users not wholly comfortable with some of the app’s extreme rhetoric may let it slide because they aren’t bothered enough to flag it.”

Parler is an example of how the rhetoric in our country has and will continue to be polarizing and partisan. Algorithms across social media platforms already tend to keep people in echo chambers and isolated from hearing other viewpoints. Parler can give a voice to those who have felt censored by other social media outlets, but if it does not gain followers from other ideologies, it could be a contributing factor to the partisanship and polarizing conversations taking place online and in person.

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