Parler: the “non-biased” social media app gaining right-wing momentum
Parler, named after the French word meaning “to speak”, is a social media app that describes itself as a “non-biased free speech driven entity”.
Shortly after its launch in 2018, it received thousands of downloads following Twitter suspensions and bans of some high-profile US conservatives. Two years later, Parler has overtaken Twitter in the Iphone App Store rankings in the US; in May 2020 it received around 80,000 worldwide downloads. This is partly down to a campaign by Parler to recruit users, called #Twexit (a portmanteau of Twitter and exit). The website features an open letter to the creator of Twitter, accusing the platform of censorship. There is a link to quickly create a Parler account, after which users can type in their username and click for a personalised Tweet template urging others to visit the #Twexit website.
Parler has also recently seen another spike in downloads since Twitter added explanatory labels to some of Donald Trump’s tweets, and UK commentator/antagonist Katie Hopkins was permanently banned by Twitter for “abusive and hateful conduct”.
“The best thing is for everyone to engage with a bad idea and shut it down through public discourse… There are going to be no fact checkers. You’re not going to be told what to think and what to say. A police officer isn’t going to arrest you if you say the wrong opinion… I think that’s all people want. That’s what they like.”
– Parler founder John Matze, in an interview with Forbes
Spiral of silence theory outlines how individuals fear rejection from social groups due to their beliefs, leading them to keep opinions quiet. Parler’s attempt to build an online space that does not “censor based on ideology” seems to be incredibly appealing to those who believe they would be – or have been – persecuted for their views.
It remains to be seen whether there public relations practitioners will adopt Parler and add it to the list of social media commonly used for communication activities. It is possible that brands will not want to be associated with a platform that is quickly becoming known as a space for extreme far-right views. However, Parler is providing a ready-made echo-chamber for conservative political messaging, without any fear of fact-checking.
For an inside look at the Parler app, scroll through the slideshow below.