What is Parler? Inside the pro-Trump unbiased platform – New Statesman

Posted: June 25, 2020 at 3:45 am


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Last Friday, fans of shock-jockery, giving offenceand early seasons of The Apprentice received a major blow to their existence: Katie Hopkins, the hard-right social media personality, waspermanently suspended from Twitter, the platform upon which she built her international notoriety. While celebrities typically fade into the ether when banned from social media, all was not lost in the case of Hopkins. The former MailOnline columnistappeared to swiftly pivot to a new app, Parler, which claimed to reject Twitters perceived culture of bans and would let hersaywhatever the hell she wanted.

Hopkins' fans downloaded Parler and began following and supporting hernew verified account. She posted that she was considering taking legal action against Twitter, and asked fans if theyd be willing to help fund this.Acolyteseagerly agreed and began donating to a link she posted on the site. But after $500 had been donated, it was revealed that the account was not run by Hopkins at all, but had accidentally been verified despite Parlers allegedly flawlessprocess. The CEO, John Matze, was forced to post a public apology.

The Hopkins fiasco has helped catapult this otherwise low-profile social media app to greater attentionin the UK, with right-wing commentators, Conservative MPs, and jaded Twitter users creating accounts in recentdays. However, in other parts of the world, Parlers existence has been heavily checkered and already holds particular connotations. And while its popularity may not be equivalent to that of Facebook or Twitter, its prominence is rapidly rising.

Parler launched in August 2018 and was billed as the oneunbiased social media platform. It followed in the wakeof Gab, another free speech project, which launched publicly the year before. Like Gab, Parler presented itself as a placewhere no one would be banned, have their content taken down, or even experience a brief suspension. It quickly became synonymous with Trump supporters and home to Twitter-banned icons of the alt-right.

Parler exploded in popularity in May 2019, when Politico reported that Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale was considering setting up an account for the president to pre-empt feared censorship on Twitter. The appalso made headlines a few weeks later when Saudis supporters of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman joined the app over Twitter free speech concerns (the influx wasso largeit temporarily made Parler inoperable).

Instead of retweets, usersgive echos;instead of likes there areupvotes (much like Reddit); and the reach of each post is made publicly available, with a live counter of how manyusers have seen a particular post. Its easy to find anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and pro-conspiracy theoryhashtags and, though community guidelines do exist, the repercussions of breaking them appearto be non-existent.

Endorsements for Parler from popular figures on the left or the centre are nowhere to be found. However, the app does boast the approval ofalt-right starssuch as Candace Owens, Milo Yiannopolousand Gavin McInnes. Parscale has since createdhis own account and met with Parlers chief executivein the White House last summer. And while Trump himself doesnt have an account, several of his children (his close advisers) do.

In the UK over the last week, Parler has become a major political talking point. Right-wing pundits, such as Tories like to party too Brexiteer Emily Hewertson and formerBreitbart UK editor Raheem Kassam, have advocated using the app in lieu of Twitter, and at least 13 MPs appear to have created accounts. Conservative activist Darren Grimes posted on Parler last night: Ive just heard from Parler there have been 200,000 UK sign ups over recent days, using the hashtag #Twexit, the apps reliable rallying cry, which becomespopular every time a new wave of people migratefrom Twitter to use it.

Hewertson tweeted about Parler on Monday afternoon, encouraging users not to use the app as an excuse to be racist. The concept is good, she subsequently posted, Its just a shame that every app has to attract extremists. Would love to see some more people from the other side of the argument on there. Needs balance.

Although Parlers mainstream popularity in the UK is only just beginning, any lingering hope of balance has already been thwarted. Despite its lunges at self-awareness through its branding and message, Parler exists as an echo chamber forhard-right views.

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What is Parler? Inside the pro-Trump unbiased platform - New Statesman

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June 25th, 2020 at 3:45 am

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