Conservatives flood alternative social media platforms

A large shift from such platforms as Twitter has already happened, but is not projected to last long. (Jonah Dietz)

As the election came to a close, the sitting president adamantly refused to concede. This caused him to be continually censored on Twitter for posting fallacious and misleading statements. A sense that this event and all the controversy surrounding it had been the last straw that broke the back of conservative and far-right leaning Americans on popular social media platforms could be felt by those on Facebook and Twitter. This reporter, who boasts a wide array of relatives and relations who lean right and proudly proclaim to be steadfast Trump supporters was witness to a large shift in the content these people were putting out. Instead of voicing their opinions, they posted that they were moving to a different opinion-posting platform—one that would not censor their posts and would provide a place for them to share Qanon conspiracy theories and far-right memes without these being marked as fallacies. The main platform in question is Parler; a platform that operates similarly to Twitter and which calls itself “the world’s town square.”

The main pull for many regarding Parler is the absence of fact-checking software. This is something that is not coincidental. The app itself was created by conservative programmers and the webpage for the platform advertises itself by expressly mentioning the uncensored aspect of its design. “Speak freely and express yourself openly,” says the webpage header. “Without fear of being ‘deplatformed” for your views.”

The app became incredibly popular two days after The Wall Street Journal, in a story regarding the Trump Campaign’s search for alternative social media platforms, named Parler as a possible alternative. Many long-time Parler users were surprised by both a sudden increase in users and a decrease in the app’s quality, as it struggled to support the wave of new users. Last week, the number of users increased by 3.5 million, according to the company’s chief operating officer, Jeffrey Wernick.  

Although crafted to be a neutral space, the personal endorsements by almost exclusively Republican politicians and right-wing journalists, followed by a user increase by 3.5 million, which includes prominent right-wing personalities such as Fox News host Sean Hannity, activist Laura Loomer and Tucker Carlson, as well as Republican Ted Cruz and Congressman Devin Nunes and Rep. Jim Jordan, the extent of the neutrality of users is being questioned. “The popularity of a social media platform hinges in large part on a robust exchange of views,” ABC News said in a report on the app. “But what happens when it turns into an echo chamber where most people there share the same opinions?”

The absolute freedom that Parler grants its users has already presented problems for some individuals. Arkansas Police Chief Lang Holland was called to resign after his Parler post calling for the execution of Democrats was shared extensively online. “We may have to shoot and kill many of the Communist B.L.M. and ANTIFA Democrat foot soldiers to accomplish this [arrest of corrupt Democrats]!!!” Holland wrote. “Death to all Marxist Democrats. Take no prisoners leave no survivors!!”

The New York Times has already labelled Parler a “right-wing messaging site” and, for many, the main concern regarding the platform is that, without a fact-checking engine, the moderate users, who joined the app to follow their friends, may be influenced into extreme stances and mislead by false information. Nevertheless, despite the claims of many on this reporter’s Facebook feed, the app is not likely to surpass or even come close to outperforming Twitter.