What Is Parler, Anyway?
I woke up this morning to news that more of my Facebook friends decamped to Parler. There were mutterings of suppression of free speech, censorship, and liberal favoritism. Graham Allen, in a public Facebook post, said “I’ve made the switch to Parler to tell the truth without censorship!” Brigitte Gabriel, in a similar post, said “Posting on Facebook is like trying to expose Communism while living in China.” But what is Parler, anyway?
When I looked it up, Wikipedia told me that it had “a significant user base of Trump supporters, conservatives, and Saudi nationalists. Posts on the website often contain far-right content, antisemitism, and conspiracy theories.” In other words, depending on who you asked, Parler was either the ultimate expression of free speech or a stewing pot for far-right ideology. I decided to investigate for myself.
Welcome to Parler
I selected the people I wanted to follow – Parler offered me a choice of mostly right-wing figures – and settled back to read. The first thing I saw was a post featuring a clip from MSNBC, on an account with 618000 followers. “Politburo spokeswoman warns Trump to accept coup,” it read. One commenter chimed in: “4 years of FBI and CIA RUSSIAN COLLUSION and fake impeacent [sic] was not a peaceful transfer.” Another read “DJT will not be responding to communist threats in the way they are hoping.”
Parler and Free Speech
One major reason people are headed to Parler is because of its touted “free speech” policy. “But what is it, exactly? I looked into their community guidelines. Their aim is to offer a welcoming, nonpartisan Public Square for all community members. While the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private companies like Parler, their mission is to create a social platform inspired by the principles of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
As I read on, it stated that they may take action, even if not legally obligated, to flag, remove reported content, or ban a member if it helps prevent their services from being used for illegal activities or civil offenses. This is especially important to maintain their mission of providing a welcoming, nonpartisan Public Square. The examples they provided were quite broad.
I’ve heard Parler derided as a “right-wing echo chamber”. Right-wingers shoot back that’s what Facebook and Twitter are. At first glance, it certainly seems that opinions on Parler are relatively uniform. Will they remain that way? Only time will tell.