While news organizations have called the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden, we still haven’t seen a concession speech from President Donald Trump.
Some of the claims the president made about the election during a White House address on Nov. 5 had TV networks either cutting away from his remarks, according to The Associated Press, or making comments or showing text on screen noting that President Trump was making the claims without evidence.
Social media has also taken action. Last month, Facebook took down one of President Trump’s posts that claimed the seasonal flu is more deadly than the coronavirus, CNBC reported. Twitter hid the same message behind a label saying the information was misleading and made it impossible to share.
But Twitter has done more than simply block posts from the president. It has also blocked his entire campaign account on occasion. In August, Twitter told The Verge the campaign account @TeamTrump would not be allowed to tweet until it removed a post wherein President Trump falsely claimed that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19.
Last month, Twitter locked down Trump’s account again after he shared the email address of a New York Post columnist. The social network told Business Insider the tweet violated its policy that bans posting “other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission.”
Turns out, a lot of conservatives don’t like their social media censoring what people can post.
A Morning Consult survey found 60% of Republican voters believed social media companies prevent the spread of conservative content. And on Tuesday in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Utah Sen. Mike Lee said Facebook and Twitter has been biased against conservatives and Republicans during the 2020 election.
Mind you, analysis from Politico, Media Matters and others challenge that narrative. But a quick look at my social media feeds in the last few weeks is evidence that hardcore conservatives are heading elsewhere, convinced the major social networks are biased.
Several people I follow on Instagram and Facebook started posting a red ‘P’ icon with an invitation to join them on a new social media network.
Parler encourages users to speak freely “without fear of being ‘deplatformed’ for your views.” The Nevada-based company is two years old and its app store downloads are skyrocketing. Cnet reported that from Nov. 3 to Nov. 9, Parler was downloaded more than 2 million times in the U.S., with NPR reporting that the platform has hit 10 million members.
The app works like Twitter, with social feeds and users posting content with a 1,000-character limit. You can follow people and then comment on their posts, “echo” them to share and “vote” them up if you like the what you see.
I found a lot of verified accounts for Fox News hosts, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and one for the Trump campaign, but oddly no verified account for the president himself. He has nearly 90 million followers on Twitter and has been tweeting over 800 times per month, according to Statista.
But while Parler says it believes people are entitled to freedom of expression, it doesn’t mean you can post whatever you want, either. The company’s Community Guidelines say removing content or members’ accounts will be kept to a minimum but relies on its users to report any violations. Reportable offenses include pornography, threats of violence and illegal activities, among other things. Parler does not utilize fact-checkers or label content as misleading or false.
Parler CEO John Matze recently told news outlet Cheddar, “We believe in people and their ability to solve these things on their own.”
Parler will resonate with those who don’t appreciate the fact-checking that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are providing. But for now, understand that left-leaning voices and opinions are few and far between on the app. You may be jumping from a social network you believe to be too censored into a conservative echo chamber.