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Sen. Mike Lee urging President Donald Trump to join alternative to Twitter

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, meets with reporters and members of the the Deseret News and KSL editorial board in Salt Lake City on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Hans Koepsell, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee is urging President Donald Trump to join an alternative to Twitter that has attracted conservatives who were banned from other social media platforms.

The Utah Republican’s call for the president to join Parler comes amid Trump’s ongoing war with Twitter, which put a warning label on one of his tweets about the protests over the death of George Floyd last month that it deemed had violated its rules against glorifying violence.

On Thursday, Lee tweeted “@realDonaldTrump, have you considered joining Parler? You have a lot of fans on that platform, which is dedicated to ‘unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement.’ Content is moderated but not politically biased. Parler.com.”

“The American people need more choices in online platforms and President Trump could help establish a Parler community with his significant following,” Lee told the Deseret News on Friday.

Lee, who joined Parler in May 2019, also posted a message on the platform saying, @realDonaldTrump, please join Parler!” An account for @realDonaldTrump appears on Parler with a join date of June 16, 2020. There are no posts or followers on the account.

The senator also posed the question on Parler, “Will Parler eventually become as big as Twitter?”

Lee has 32,000 followers on the site, a fraction of the nearly 590,000 he has on Twitter. He follows only two accounts — the Epoch Times and Breitbart News. Trump has more than 82.5 million Twitter followers.

One responder to Lee’s Parler invitation to Trump wrote that if the president were to join, “the largest migration in history from one platform to another will take place. It will be a shot across the bow for Twitter to even think that messing with any of trumps posts is a good idea.”

Lee responds, “I thing you’re right! This platform is ready for him. I hope he will join soon.”

Parler (meant to be pronounced “par-lay” as in the French word for “speak,” but abandoned in favor of the English pronunciation) launched as a “free-speech” alternative to Twitter in August 2018. It allows up to 1,000 characters in a post compared to 280 on Twitter.

“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,” according the Parler website.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced Thursday that he joined Parler.

“This platform gets what free speech is all about, and I’m excited to be a part of it. Let’s speak. Let’s speak freely. And let’s end the Silicon Valley censorship,” Cruz said in a video he shared with Politico.

In the video, Cruz railed against social media giants for “flagrantly silencing those with whom they disagree, from conservative media organizations to the president of the United States — and millions of Americans in between.”

Parler immediately after launching attracted a host of notable conservatives and libertarians, including some who were banned or suspended on other social media platforms.

High-profile users include political commentator and activist Candace Owens, former presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also have Parler accounts.

Lee said last year that Twitter has every right to exist and can “choose to be biased if it wants to; but it will do so at its own peril — especially as alternatives like Parler become an option.”

Until Thursday, Lee had not posted on the platform since last August.

His recent posts were about former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book, “The Room Where It Happened,” that Trump unsuccessfully tried get a federal court to block from distribution.

“It seems really unfair for a national security adviser to write a book trashing the president he served. If he didn’t like the Trump White House and wasn’t comfortable working for and remaining loyal to this president, he should have resigned,” Lee wrote.

“But remaining on board, taking copious notes the entire time regarding his confidential deliberations, and then publishing a book taking advantage of his unique access seems underhanded — especially while the president he served is still in office.”