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January 2023 | by Sam Shinkle
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Originally published February 2021. Last updated July 2022.
Parler has been billed as “The New Public Square,” “The Free Speech Network,” and most famously, “Conservative Twitter.” But what is under the hood of this emerging social media platform?
According to their website:
“Parler is an unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement. Our content is moderated based off the FCC and the Supreme Court of the United States, which enables free expression without violence and a lack of censorship. Parler never shares your personal data.”
Parler is a social media platform specifically for microblogging. It was founded by former CEO John Matze and officially launched in August 2018. After spending even just a couple of minutes on the platform, it’s abundantly clear that Matze intends for the platform to be a serious competitor to Twitter.
Matze himself isn’t shy about that fact either. In an interview with Fox News, Matze said: “It’ll feel very similar to Twitter, which I’m sure many people are accustomed to. However … we take a really firm stance that we want to be unbiased.”
So what are the main differences between Twitter and Parler? We’re glad you asked.
In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential election and due to Facebook and Twitter’s implementation of draconian content restrictions and warnings, Parler usage surged. Parler saw an influx of nearly 4 million new users, including many prominent conservative personalities and organizations. The app skyrocketed to the #1 spot in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
In early January 2021, after the removal of Donald Trump from Twitter, Parler experienced another massive surge of new users. The influx of new users was severely halted after the Google Play Store and Apple App Store discontinued distribution of the Parler App citing concerns with the platform’s inadequate moderation policies. The situation culminated on January 10th, 2021 when Amazon Web Services (AWS) shut the platform down and ceased all services with Parler.
After being shut down for over a month, Parler came back online on Monday, February 15th, 2021, but did not return to the Apple App Store until April 2021; an event precipitated by the firing of Parler’s former CEO John Matze and an overhaul of their moderation services that detect hate speech and incitement. These changes to the platform went under review by Apple and were approved on April 14th, 2021. This gave Parler the green light to relaunch their social media app in the App Store as long as the Apple version blocked certain posts that are available in other versions of the app, such as the web browser version.
Parler was also removed from Google Play and Amazon Web Services (AWS), and pursued legal action against Amazon, claiming that Big Tech companies collaborated to restrict Parler’s access to their shared client bases. While Google has hinted at allowing Parler back on the Play store upon approving its policies, Amazon has not stated whether AWS will again distribute the social media platform.
Between the three tech giants, each denied working alongside each other to halt Parler’s rise. While the future of the app remains to be determined, Parler has certainly not seen as substantial a rise in popularity as it once experienced before being pulled off the internet. So far in 2022, $20 million was raised for the app’s continuation, and 870,000 new users downloaded the app on Apple devices within the first ten days of the year.
We’ve encountered politicians like Senator Rand Paul, media personalities like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, María Bartíromo, and known conservative celebrities like Scott Baio and Dean Cain on Parler so far.
Since June 2020, more politicians, political campaigns, and committees have started migrating to the platform. The major verified organizations are the RSLC, and NRSC, as well as individual Congressional Republicans like Congressman Warren Davidson, Congressman Jim Jordan, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, and Congressman Thomas Massie.
A few news publications have officially joined the platform as well – The Daily Caller, the Washington Times Opinion Page, and the Washington Examiner Opinion Page.
Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of Parler isn’t who is on the platform but who isn’t. For the most part, corporations and brands seem to be missing entirely from the platform.
Like any platform, it depends on your goals and your target audience.
Following the banning of prominent conservative personalities on Twitter in June 2020, Parler gained over 500,000 new users in just over a week. After this #Twexit, Parler jumped from 1 million users to 1.5 million.
Twitter and Facebook are incorporating stricter censorship standards. Practices like shadowbanning, arbitrary fact-checking, and content warnings mean there is a chance your followers aren’t always seeing your content. Parler offers an alternative option to reach your audience in the event of a suspension or permanent ban from Twitter or Facebook.
If you’re running a right-leaning political campaign that wants to reach a sympathetic audience, then Parler might be a good fit for you. Many Parler users are self-selected, highly engaged conservatives who will almost certainly promote your content, subscribe to your campaign, or support your election.
That’s not to say Parler is without its issues. The platform is still in its infancy, has the occasional bug, and is struggling to get more ideologically diverse subscribers on the platform. Digital marketers should think of Parler as one more tool to add to their toolbox.
Don’t let changing rules on social media platforms tank your next campaign. To balance your digital efforts, we recommend an omni-channel strategy that reaches your audience across all platforms. Learn more about how IMGE does omnichannel marketing here.
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