In the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection, Parler was given the boot by Silicon Valley. However, the platform is already threatening a return.

 

 

On January 11, a week after the attacks on the Capitol, Amazon and Apple pulled the plug on Parler, citing the platform’s unwillingness to moderate threats of violence made by its users.

At the time, Apple said that while it has “always supported diverse points of view” on the app store, “there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity.”

“Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety,” the company said in a statement. “We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues.”

Since the attack, per The Wall Street Journal, “officials behind the social-media platform say they are working to return it service.”

The platform gained a surge in users immediately after Twitter banned Donald Trump on January 8, and has also had a role in some of America’s recent racially (or ideologically) motivated discourse.

As Alex Newhouse, Research Lead, Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism, at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies noted, “After the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Parler caught on among right-wing politicians and influencers – people with large online followings – as a social media platform where they could share and promote ideas without worrying about the company blocking or flagging their posts for being dangerous or misleading. However, the website also became a haven for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists who interacted with the mainstream conservatives flocking to the platform.

“As the three highest-profile social media companies – YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – continued to take action to mitigate the spread of extremism and disinformation, Parler welcomed the ensuing exodus of right-wing users. It exploded in popularity, doubling its members to 10 million during the month of November, and claimed 12 million at the time of its shutdown – although that’s still dwarfed by Twitter’s roughly 330 million monthly active users.

“On mainstream social media, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the presidential election, and theories alleging crimes by the Biden campaign and Democrats are flagged as misinformation. On Parler, Trump won in a landslide, only to have his victory stolen by a wide-ranging alliance of evildoers, including Democrats and the so-called ‘deep state.’

“But along with its success came the reality that extremist movements like QAnon and the Boogalooers thrived in the platform’s unregulated chaos.

“Other primarily right-wing platforms, especially Gab, had housed fringe and violent ideologies and groups by the time Parler was launched. These included violent far-right militias and the mass shooter Robert Bowers.

“Parler, in contrast, gained a reputation for catering to mainstream conservatives thanks to a handful of high-profile early adopters like Brad Parscale, Candace Owens and Sen. Mike Lee. As a result, in 2020 when Twitter began labelling misleading Trump tweets about possible fraud in absentee and mail-in voting, politicians like Ted Cruz embraced Parler as the next bastion for conservative speech.”

 

It’s worth noting that Parler only had two guidelines for users: It does not ‘knowingly’ allow criminal activity, and it does not allow spam or bots. Seemingly, anything else goes, which has allowed hate speech, racism and conspiracy theories to flourish on Twitter.

 

It’s worth noting that Parler only had two guidelines for users: It does not ‘knowingly’ allow criminal activity, and it does not allow spam or bots. Seemingly, anything else goes, which has allowed hate speech, racism and conspiracy theories to flourish on Twitter.

This took a strangely literal turn in the wake of the attack, as the woman who was shot and killed at the Capitol, Ashli E. Babbitt, was quickly disowned by users on the site, with one user labelling her as a “known Antifa spy” who “posed as a MAGA patriot” and her patriotism was “fake” and thus, being shot to death was merely karma being doled out.

According to NPR, Babbitt was “was a libertarian and supporter of President Trump, according to her social media posts, as well as a follower of the far-right conspiracy theory known as QAnon.”

Alex Newhouse has also looked deeper into Parler, suggesting that the ownership of Parler remains a well-kept secret.

As he noted, “Dan Bongino, the highly popular right-wing commentator who published a book about the ‘deep state’ conspiracy theory and frequently publishes unverified information, has at least a small ownership stake in the company. CEO John Matze said in a post on Parler that is now unavailable because the site is down that the ownership is composed of himself and ‘a small group of close friends and employees.'”

“Notably, conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, are investors in the platform. Rebekah Mercer helped co-found it with Matze. The Mercers are well known for their investments in other conservative causes, including Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign, Breitbart News and Cambridge Analytica. The connection to Cambridge Analytica has, in particular, alarmed experts, who worry that Parler may harvest unnecessary data from unwitting users.

“Parler’s privacy policy doesn’t put to rest concerns about user privacy, either: The policy says that Parler has permission to collect a vast amount of personal information, and gives its members much less control than mainstream platforms over what that data can be used for.”

“If the company can find a new web hosting service, Parler’s fate will hinge on what its members do over the next few months. Will the company be able to capitalize on the influx of new users, or will its members slowly trickle back to the larger platforms, particularly amid recriminations for the platform’s role in the U.S. Capitol insurrection? A major factor is how Trump himself reacts, and whether he eventually creates an account on Parler. Prominent right-wing figures, including Sen. Lee, have called on him to do so.”

 

 

 

 

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