“Free speech-driven” social network Parler is being smeared as a “far-right” cesspool as a Twitter crackdown drives conservative signups – even as its new users include milquetoast Republican politicians like Ted Cruz.
Like Gab before it, Parler has attracted celebrity Twitter and Facebook rejects, lured by the promise of a censor-free experience, and a flood of users eager to interact with their banned idols – or just to express themselves without fear of de-platforming. And the market for alternative platforms is booming – Parler’s app was the second-most-popular download in the App Store’s News category as of Thursday.
Some 500,000 users reportedly joined the platform after Twitter, following in the footsteps of Facebook and stepping up its ideologically-motivated censorship, banned conservative meme-maker Carpe Donktum and locked National Pulse editor Raheem Kassam’s account on Tuesday.
Twitter has also come under fire from the right for hiding a handful of President Donald Trump’s tweets behind a warning label. Even mainstream conservatives are growing restive, and Parler’s “non-biased free speech” approach is looking awfully attractive in the current political climate.
Accordingly, mainstream media have done their best to rain on Parler’s parade. Newsweek called it a “safe space for the far right,” and the app’s Wikipedia writeup was especially pearl-clutchy, stating that Parler was known for “the presence and proliferation of alt-right, neo-nazi, anti-feminist, and conspiracy theory content.”
Twitter’s blue-checks made withering comments about the platform and the big names it had attracted.
Parler’s target market (seniors who haven’t seen their grandchildren in 5+ years) can’t figure out how to create a password with a special character in it pic.twitter.com/LSCN0gPtng
— the smart dumbass (@boring_as_heck) June 25, 2020
But some of those names might come as a surprise to those who’ve read the media coverage and assumed Parler’s appeal is limited to fans of deliberately outrageous political provocateurs Laura Loomer and Milo Yiannopoulos or Infowars performance artist Alex Jones – all three of whom were banned from Facebook last year as “dangerous individuals” and now boast sizable followings on Parler. Republican politicians, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, California Rep. Devin Nunes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, also have accounts on the platform, as do a number of conservative British MPs. The president’s son Eric Trump is on it, as are several of his staffers.
Nor do the new arrivals hail solely from the right side of the political spectrum. Brian and Ed Krassenstein – the #Resistance grifters who were finally booted from Twitter last year over maintaining multiple fake accounts – have made their home at Parler, where they apparently debate the merits of mask-wearing with the likes of political hoaxer Jacob Wohl.
“There’s no evidence of systemic anti-conservative bias on the major social media platforms,” sneered Politico in its writeup of Cruz joining Parler. But no amount of gaslighting from the mainstream media will convince people who’ve experienced the increasingly heavy hand of ideologically-motivated censorship that it does not exist.
Smearing alternative platforms as “far-right” is also waning ineffectiveness, now that everyone from Zero Hedge to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has been tarred with that brush. November’s election is just a few months away, and it’s clear the big platforms are itching to redeem themselves after “letting” Trump win in 2016. Should an alternative take off and become something more than a right-wing echo chamber, it could scuttle their dream of finally removing the Bad Orange Man from the White House.