What is Parler and why are some people leaving Facebook to join it?

Millions of people have signed up for Parler in recent days

Parler logo (Parler)

If you’re on social media, specifically Facebook, you might have seen some of your friends talking about Parler recently. But what is it and why are people joining?

Parler is a social media network created in Sept. 2018 that touts itself as being privacy-focused while allowing its users to “speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being ‘deplatformed’ for your views," according to the website.

As of Monday, Nov. 9, Parler is trending as the top free download in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The up and coming social media app appears to be a haven for Republicans and in the wake of the 2020 presidential election results - it appears a flood of new users have joined Parler.

Parler CEO John Matze said in a post on the platform that he expected a “million or so people today... but 2? You guys are crazy."

According to CNET, far-right journalist Laura Loomer who has previously described herself as a “proud Islamophobe” has more than 574,000 followers on Parler. She is permanently banned from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for violation of its hateful conduct rules, however, she claims it’s due to her political beliefs.

Are Parler’s guidelines different?

Parler claims to differ from other social media apps. The guidelines from the company state that “our minimalist Community Guidelines are formulated objectively, are based on fair and just legal precedent and business policy, and are enforced by a Community Jury.”

All religious and non-religious users on Parler are “welcome to converse civilly, to discuss solutions to pressing world problems, and hopefully come to understand we are all more similar than we are different," Parler’s guidelines state.

Notable Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz promoted Parler in a YouTube video in June that has amassed more than 23,500 views.

The app’s website, which advertises the platform as being privacy-focused, nonbiased, and promoting of free-speech, says it encourages users to “discuss and defend your values, passions, accomplishments, and ideas in an environment that lets you be you, free of agenda-driven ‘shadow-banning.’”

Some of the social media users migrating to Parler have expressed concern over Facebook and Twitter making judgment calls on which content they remove or suppress.

In recent months, Twitter has flagged a number of Pres. Trump’s tweets as disputed or misleading.

Twitter’s rules state that people “may express themselves on Twitter as long as they do not violate our Twitter Rules. We do not block, limit, or remove content based on an individual’s views or opinions.”

Twitter’s head of site integrity and director of global public policy strategy and development posted a blog in May saying Twitter would take action against misleading information, disputed and unverified claims. Read more on the site’s policy for potential content removal here.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, lays out its “false news” policy as part of its community standards.

The company policy states that “there is also a fine line between false news and satire or opinion. For these reasons, we don’t remove false news from Facebook but instead, significantly reduce its distribution by showing it lower in the News Feed.”

Is Parler truly neutral?

Parler’s community standards state that other social media platforms' “biased content curation policies enable rage mobs and bullies to influence Community Guidelines. Parler’s viewpoint-neutral policies foster a community of individuals who tolerate the expression of all non-violent ideas.”

However, part of the user agreement for Parler states that “Parler may remove any content and terminate your access to the Services at any time and for any reason.” The full user agreement can be read here.

Some Twitter users have claimed that left-leaning users are getting the boot, according to a Newsweek article, which states that President Donald Trump, his son Eric Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Candace Owens are Parler users.

No context was provided as to why users were allegedly banned.

Another part of the Parler user agreement? All Parler users “agree that Parler or its service providers or partners may display advertising in connection with your content and otherwise monetize your content without compensation to you.”

Facebook, Twitter and Parler all have similar agreements in terms of granting the services access to users personal content. In fact, the user agreements for Twitter and Parler are verbatim in granting “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute” users content. Parler CEO John Matze has previously stated that this is just “boilerplate” language.

Matze spoke with Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham in May 2019 about censorship on Parler and said “anything that we kind of get involved with has to have some kind of constitutional violation, some kind of supreme court premise, something that says ‘hey, you know, that’s really not alright.' There really has to be a premise for it though.”

“We don’t want to get into the business of what is and is not allowed to be discussed,” Matze said.

KSAT has reached out to Parler for comment.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.