Everywhere you go these days, people are talking about moving to Parler, described as a non censored alternative social media platform to Twitter.
I first heard about it in late spring and signed up. But It didn’t seem very active or relevant so I left it alone.
Then came the election and everywhere, it seemed, people were talking about dumping Twitter and going to Parler. So last week, I logged on to my dormant account and started monitoring the platform.
This time, there was a lot of activity. A lot.
But I have to say that after a week of checking the site numerous times each day, I find myself pretty much disappointed by what I am finding.
It is all groupthink and one sided.
Parler is as slanted and as biased to the far right as its many users say Twitter is to the far left.
Whatever is happening over there is not necessarily good, even though it’s CEO claims it has grown by more than five million users just since the election.
As a platform, I like it. It works a lot like Twitter, with some promising interface improvements. Instead of retweeting, on Parler you “echo.” You can also “upvote” a post to show your approval. And it’s “Parleys” can be a lot longer than Twitter’s tweets.
Like Twitter, you choose who you want to follow. Or you can follow the most popular hashtags.
For the past few days, I have watched in amazement as the platform exploded with new users – reportedly as many as 1,000 every minute.
Parler is exploding in popularity
Sometimes the platform is so overwhelmed by new signups that the servers choke.
I followed some of the bigger names I recognized, and I posted on my Facebook timeline my own Parler handle @mwendland. I followed back everyone who followed me.
And I started reading the Parleys and hashtags.
The vast majority are complaining about the election, and linking (echoing) to posts and stories from conservative blogs and news outlets reporting various election fraud allegations or just venting.
Too many other Parleys are just crazy, outrageous, sensational statements and conspiracy theories posted as facts but with no sourcing or attribution. They in turn often seem to be blindly and naively accepted as true, with no questions, judging by how they are echoed and upvoted.
Who is using Parler?
The Qanon group is very active there. As is the Proud Boys and other controversial players of the far right. Outspoken celebrity conservative commentators from Fox News like Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Dan Bongino are very active. Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza – the Michael Moore of the right – is posting almost hourly. There are lots of GOP politicians, too.
I’m not entirely sure whether President Trump is on Parler. There are a bunch of Donald Trump accounts that appear to be him but, on close inspection, are parodies or fans who are using his name. But because Parler bills itself as the “Free Speech Social Network,” it apparently allows all those weird Trump accounts that aren’t really him.
I did come across a few trolls who try to pick online fights. One bills himself as RealDonaldJTrump and has posted a string of insulting, nasty comments trying to get the Parler folks riled up. But, to their credit, they seem to have largely ignored RealDonaldJTrump.
Maybe that’s because they are too busy pushing their own agenda. Over the past week or so, almost all of the posts I have seen are angry, bitter, one-sided, and derisive towards things like the mainstream media, Democrats, moderates, Dr. Fauci, COVID shutdowns and mask wearers.
Besides resentment and anger over the election, most of the talk this week is about creating a max exodus protest from Facebook and Twitter…turning off Fox News because many think the network has betrayed them in calling the election for Trump…. and a national truckers strike to show respect to Trump and disdain towards the left’s Green New Deal, which many fear Biden will adopt.
Lots of Parler folks are also urging signups to MeWe.com, billed as a free speech alternative to Facebook, and Rumble.com, an uncensored YouTube wannabe. Both of those platforms are also growing fast.
But Parler is the biggest and loudest of these new platforms.
Based on the time I have spent there this week, what’s missing on Parler is the middle ground.
Where are the regular people? Where are the posts about cats , kids, the weather, our everyday lives… the things that make social media social?
I sure haven’t found them there.
A few minutes on Parler and I find my anxiety level rising. It’s like everyone is yelling all the time. Really loud.
I’ve tried to post some perspective. “Source, please,” I commented after one sensational claim. Nothing. People just echoed the claim and the original poster ignored my request.
“Says who?” I asked again. Still no reply.
At one point I wrote the following:
“I have to say this: There is WAY TOO MUCH fake news here, too. In just the last 15 minutes I have seen three outrageously salacious posts about the election from people that are totally fake and unattributed… Folks, be careful. If the posts you are reading do not have attribution that can be verified, don’t believe them and upvote or pass them along. Be a discerning news consumer.”
I got one echo.
I understand that people are angry, the country is divided and Facebook and Twitter have been heavy-handed in their censorship. People need to vent.
And competition is always good. Big tech is indeed too big. We do need rivals to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I really do hope Parler settles down and prospers.
But what I have so far seen on Parler is way too much noise, misinformation, and hostility.
And that just can’t be good for a country that already had plenty of all that negativity.