Parler: The Conservative Alternative to Twitter


Via The Independent

Sierra Weaver, Editor-in-Chief

Following the election, Parler became one of the most downloaded programs on the app store, gaining close to three million members in the first two weeks after November 3rd.

The app was founded in 2018 and currently boasts itself as an “unbiased” social media platform that values “free speech.” This concept is appealing to many conservatives and Republicans who have often found themselves being “censored” by Twitter. This idea of “censorship” comes from the social network’s recent goal to slow the spread of misinformation by placing warnings on tweets that “may be misleading” in terms of information about elections and social issues. These warnings have often been placed upon Trump’s tweets and the tweets of “Republican conspiracy theorists.” As a result of this, many conservative users have accused the app of being “biased” towards the left and against the right.

Parler’s layout is extremely similar to Twitter. Users are able to post “parleys,” which are essentially the same as tweets (just on Parler instead of Twitter). Other functions include comments, “echos,” and votes, which retrospectively are the same as replies, retweets, and likes. In simplest terms, Parler has almost the exact same functions as Twitter, with the exception of a “curated feed” that is updated by the algorithm of the app. Instead of this, posts on Parler appear chronologically and users are only shown content from the accounts they follow.

After spending some time on Parler, it is clear the app does not abide by the same policies as other social media platforms. It takes only moments to locate “radical right-wing conspiracy theories” surrounding the election results and COVID-19. The users of Parler are almost exclusively conservative or Republican, with responses to even the most absurd posts being supportive. It is extremely difficult to find the presence of any liberal users.

Another notable aspect of Parler is the large number of homophobic “parleys.” While on all social media there is bound to be some hateful content, most platforms will at least attempt to remove posts containing extremely harmful language or “hate speech;” however, Parler does not appear to be doing this as it is common to find posts containing “anti-LGBTQIA+” remarks as well as the “f slur.” It can only be assumed that the lack of policing on content is a direct result of the app’s desire to focus on “free speech” and reducing censorship.

Even with the large increase in members immediately following the election, the social media platform has seen a decline in popularity over the past couple of weeks. The number of active users per day has decreased dramatically and many of the app’s most notable members have publicly criticized it, particularly Ron Watkins, an active member of QAnon. He posted several tweets calling out the app for its security leaks and lack of privacy, arguing that it takes an unnecessary amount of personal data from its users and referring to the app as “compromised.”

It appears as though Parler’s short span of popularity is coming to a close, as there are fewer active users each day. Perhaps the app will be a “back up plan” for when conservatives become particularly unhappy with other social media platforms, but one thing is certain: it will not be taking over for Twitter anytime soon (if ever), as Twitter remains the epicenter of “social media-based” political discourse, even for conservatives.