Parler promised Apple and Google it would change, but harmful content still plagues the platform
Ye (formerly Kanye West) is reportedly buying Parler as a social media refuge for those suspended from mainstream platforms
Apple and Google allowed the social media service Parler back on their app stores after the platform promised to make moderation changes in the wake of the January 6 insurrection. But far-right figures suspended or banned from mainstream platforms — including the entertainer Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who is reportedly buying the platform — have found a home on Parler, where they post content similar to the misinformation and extremism that got them banned from other platforms.
Parler, founded by John Matze, Jared Thomson, and conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer, describes itself as “unbiased social media” and a place where people can “speak freely ... without fear of being ‘deplatformed.’” Naturally, this stated mission resulted in the platform becoming a haven for right-wing and extremist accounts. At its peak in late 2020, Parler had roughly 2.9 million daily active users, its app was downloaded nearly 340,000 times on a single day, and Media Matters identified 236 Parler accounts associated with prominent right-wing figures.
Parler came under public scrutiny in the days following the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, as it became clear that rioters used the platform for planning and incitement of the attack. In the days after the attacks, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores, calling on Parler to improve its moderation since it had not, as The Verge explained it, “adequately handled violent threats and hateful content on its platform that encouraged the riot.” Both companies have since reinstated Parler — Apple in May 2021 and Google in September 2022 — after it made changes to comply with their policies, such as agreeing to scan for hate speech, clean up some posts, and address incitement to violence.
On October 17, Parler announced that the musician Ye has agreed to buy Parler, which he confirmed in an interview and said, “Why would I remain in a place where I’m just tolerated, why not go to a place where I’m celebrated?” Ye joined the platform last week amid Twitter and Instagram suspensions for antisemitic posts, joining a list of right-wing figures who have used Parler after being suspended or banned from mainstream platforms.
Right-wing figures and organizations, including those suspended or banned on mainstream platforms, have used Parler to promote harmful content that seemingly violates mainstream platforms’ policies. Such content includes election, COVID-19, and vaccine misinformation; content from QAnon supporters; and calls for right-wing poll workers and watchers to monitor for fraud.
Right-wing figures and organizations suspended or banned from other platforms use Parler to push misinformation, amplify QAnon supporters, and encourage election vigilantes
- Far-right organization Project Veritas is banned from Twitter, but uses Parler to encourage its more than 709,000 followers to send in tips to help “keep our elections secure.”
- Infowars host Alex Jones has been banned from all mainstream social media platforms. On Parler, Jones pushes misinformation to his 400,000 followers, such as baselessly claiming that the “deep state” is “preparing Covid camps to hold political enemies during nuclear war!”
- “Stop the Steal” founder Ali Alexander was banned from all mainstream social media platforms for his role in the January 6 rally and insurrection. On Parler, Alexander pushes election misinformation and incendiary language to his nearly 50,000 followers, falsely claiming that Democrats are subverting democracy during the 2022 midterms and praising “Stop the Steal” as “the greatest threat to the Deep State's illegitimate illusion.” Alexander also suggested that criticizing Ye’s antisemitic posts is equivalent to “starting a race war against Ye.”
- Former Trump campaign attorney and election denier Sidney Powell was banned on Twitter as part of a purge of QAnon accounts after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, and now, Powell uses Parler to share her support for the rioters and amplify content from QAnon supporters to her 1.3 million followers on Parler. Powell has also shared vaccine misinformation on Parler.
- Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to Donald Trump, was banned on Twitter as part of a purge of QAnon accounts after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. On Parler, Flynn has amplified SaveYourRepublic.org and encouraged his 1.3 million followers to “become a poll worker.” (Right-wing figures are trying to recruit election deniers as poll watchers and workers to disrupt the voting process, and they have encouraged “vigilantes” to watch ballot drop boxes.)
Right-wing figures and organizations use Parler to push election misinformation
- On Parler, QAnon conspiracy theorist Scott Presler praised how conservatives have been accepted as poll workers, claiming that “we’ll have eyes & ears at polling locations to ensure there are no irregularities” during the 2022 midterm elections.
- Former member of Congress and right-wing pundit Allen West encouraged his Parler followers to make sure their votes weren’t tampered with and to report any supposed voter fraud during the 2022 midterm elections.
- On Parler, right-wing organization Judicial Watch shared its “citizens guide” on “things you can do to stop election fraud.”
- Right-wing personality Rogan O’Handley falsely told his Parler followers that there are “TERABYTES OF VIDEO FOOTAGE & DATA of people driving to multiple dropboxes and stuffing them with dozens of votes.” He has also pushed false claims that there was “widespread 2020 election fraud” in Arizona.
- Right-wing organization American Constitutional Rights Union encouraged Parler users to report “voter fraud during this election cycle.”
Right-wing figures and organizations use Parler to push other harmful content, including anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and anti-vaccine misinformation
- Right-wing personality Candace Owens, whose husband is Parler’s CEO, has pushed anti-vaccine misinformation, such as implying that adults are suddenly dying from the COVID-19 vaccine and children are suddenly dying from the DTaP vaccine.
- Seth Dillon, CEO of the conservative satire account The Babylon Bee, has repeatedly posted anti-LGBTQ content on Parler, calling gender-affirming surgery “mutilation,” gender-affirming care for children “abuse,” and drag queens “raunchy male caricatures of women.”
- Anti-vaccine organization Children’s Health Defense has pushed COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation on Parler, promoting “profiles of the vaccine injured” and amplifying a video that claims to “expose #TheRealAnthonyFauci.”