What's the Deal With the "Free Speech" Alternative to Twitter? - 2020-07-03
This article is part of the Free Speech Project , a collaboration between Future Tense and the Tech, Law, & Security Program at American University Washington College of Law that examines the ways technology is influencing how we think about speech.
The basic idea of Parler is an awful lot like Twitter. But instead of tweets, users post "Parleys"; instead of retweets, there are "echoes." And upon registering, the suggested accounts to follow include Breitbart, the Epoch Times, and the Daily Caller, as well as Rand Paul, Mark Levin, and Team Trump.
In June, right-wing users started flocking to this alt-Twitter, whose main selling point is that it vows to champion free speech. As mainstream platforms banned more far-right accounts, removed hate speech with newfound vigor, and attached warning labels to a few of President Donald Trump's tweets, Parler became, for many, an attractive solution to Twitter's supposed ills. Now, it's the second most popular app in the App Store, and last week it was estimated to have reached more than 1.5 million daily users, snagging some high-profile newbies: Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Elise Stefanik, Rep. Jim Jordan, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump. What led to Parler's founding in August 2018 was, predictably, disillusionment with the likes of the Silicon Valley giants. Henderson, Nevada–based software engineers Jared Thomson and John Matze created the platform, according to Parler's website, "[a]fter being exhausted with a lack of transparency in big tech, ideological suppresssion [sic] and privacy abuse."