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Parler is a social network platform that has recently become popular due to public outrage over big tech censorship. Controversy swirls as to whether a powerful private entity, like Facebook or Twitter, should have the power to alter public access to information. Should it be up to the reader to determine the accuracy of information or is the proliferation of fake news into our news cycle a danger to us as individuals and to our democracy – thus making censorship necessary? In this article, we will be showing you why Parler appeals to certain users, the perceived benefits and potential dangers of the app, and why GKIS recommends that children not be allowed access.

Nearly the whole world relies on social media to market their business, get the news, network, or stay connected with friends and family. But recently it has been brought to light that social media platforms shadowban content that violates their terms of service. Shadowbanning is when a social media platform blocks a user’s content without notifying the user. So, instead of understanding their content has been blocked, the user believes that nobody is engaging with their content when in reality it cannot be seen or has been obscured to other users.

Some users who have experienced their content being taken down or shadowbanned by social media apps like Facebook and Twitter believe that it is a violation of their constitutional first amendment right to free speech and accuse big tech of politically-motivated censoring. In response, many have decided to jump ship and go to other apps known to be against censorship like Parler. Parler has become one of the most downloaded apps after Twitter flagged some of former President Donald Trump’s tweets.

What is Parler?

Parler is a social network platform that is similar to Twitter. It was founded by John Matze and Jared Thompson based out of Henderson, Nevada. The social media platform describes itself as a “free-speech platform” focused on protecting users’ rights. The content is focused on real user experiences and engagement without censorship, except for obscenity and pornographic material.

The guidelines on the platform state that the company aims to “uphold the rights of free speech according to the U.S. Constitution.” But many are criticizing it for being a far-right social media platform and calling Parler names such as Meinspace, Hicktock, and Fashbook.

Who is joining Parler?

The majority of Parler users have a more conservative ideology who joined during the 2020 presidential election when Twitter’s algorithms censored a New York Post story involving files and emails reportedly taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop. When Republican Senators questioned Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, about the censorship, he replied that it was a “mistake” and that Twitter policies would be amended. In response, conservatives claimed that the algorithms favored liberal news and unfairly targeted conservative content.

Many Saudi’s have also have left Twitter and joined Parler in response to news stating that several Twitter employees were charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for spying for Saudi Arabia. According to court papers, one of the people implicated in this scheme is an associate of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman who the CIA has concluded made the order of assassinating the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudis feel that Twitter is protecting the Saudi government by spying on users that do not agree with the government.

Many non-political people also use the platform such as athletes, business owners, and people that just want fewer rules and a platform that welcomes all political views.

How do you sign up for Parler?

To sign up, go to the Parler website or download the app and submit your email address and phone number to confirm your identity. Agree to their terms of service and privacy rights and community guidelines. If you want to comment on user posts, verify your identity by taking a picture of a valid identification document such as a driver’s license or passport and a selfie and send it in.

 How Parler Works

Users can moderate what kind of content they’d like to see as well as block or mute users. Additional features include entering word filters associated with content that you’d not like to see and the option to view your comments before anyone else can see them. Parler also has Community Guidelines violation points which allow a warning (20 points) prior to losing your Parler account.

In the main feed, there are different terms for certain content. For example, a parley is a post and an echo is a re-post similar to a retweet. Votes are similar to likes or dislikes. Parleys can only be upvoted and comments can either be upvoted or downvoted.

Despite Parler being credited as a free speech platform, users cannot post:

  • Terrorist threats or threats
  • Trolling
  • Spam
  • Pornography
  • Slander
  • Blackmail
  • Plagiarism
  • Bribery
  • Copyright infringement
  • Doxing
  • Impersonation
  • Libel
  • Obscenity

Privacy

Users can make an account public or private. You can also select an option where the only email you’ll receive from Parler is to inform you of critical updates.

How Hashtags Work on Parler

Parler is hashtag heavy. To search for content or post content, a user needs to be precise with hashtags and usernames more so than other social media platforms. This means that exact hashtags or usernames must be typed in with no spaces.  Parler’s algorithms only search for usernames and hashtags. Twitter, on the other hand, uses all kinds of algorithms that search for more vague keywords. Their algorithms also curate a person’s feed to suit their interests in order to keep a user scrolling. Parler does not do this. Users that do not like an algorithm to decide what should be on the top of their newsfeed may prefer an app like Parler.

Is Parler appropriate for minors?

 GKIS rates Parler as a red light app for kids and teens due to the commonality of extreme views and lack of censorship. For example, far-right groups like the Proud Boys post about destroying Antifa and promoting civil war. We at GKIS recognize that young people are particularly vulnerable to believing conspiracy theories and may become radicalized by extreme content. Kids on Parler may also be at risk for exploitation and abuse.

For more information on how to keep you and your tweens and teens safer on social media, check out our Social Media Readiness Course. It’s like driver’s training except for the internet!

Thank you to CSUCI intern Andres Thunstrom for co-authoring this article.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
GetKidsInternetSafe.com

Photo Credits

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Andres Thunstrom
Photo by Andres Thunstrom

Works Cited

 Conger, K (2019, November 6) Former Twitter Employees Charged with Spying for Saudi Arabia https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/06/technology/twitter-saudi-arabia-spies.html

Cullford, E (2019, June 13) Unhappy with Twitter, thousands of Saudis join pro-Trump network Parler https://www.reuters.com/article/us-twitter-saudi-politics-idUSKCN1TE32S

Molina, B. (2018, July 27). Shadow Banning: What Is It, and Why Is Trump Talking about in on Twitter. www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2018/07/26/shadow-banning-what-and-why-trump-talking-twitter/842368002/.

Weiss, S (2020, November 23) Ivanka Trump’s New Favorite Social Platform is Dangerous for Kids https://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/2374446/parler-dangerous-kids-social-media/

Andy Thunstrom
Andy Thunstrom
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