Despite its niche audience, Parler is surging in popularity. The platform became the most-downloaded app on the weekend of November 8 — the day major media outlets called the election for Joe Biden.
Many conservative politicians and media personalities have become active on Parler. Among those who have been active on Parler include Fox News host Sean Hannity, radio personality Mark Levin, far-right activist Laura Loomer, Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Devin Nunes. Eric Trump also has an account verified by Parler as does Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
What’s fueling its growth?
Although Facebook and Twitter are still awash with misinformation and hate, to Trump’s supporters, the steps Big Tech has taken to slow the spread of misinformation amounts to censorship. And some are seeking alternative homes online.
Why is it controversial?
Parler is rife with misinformation, including a stream of baseless allegations of voter fraud. The platform has become a hub of Trump-backed conspiracy theories casting doubt on the election of President-elect Biden.
“Holocaust denial, antisemitism, racism and other forms of bigotry are also easy to find,” the ADL said.
Both extremists and “mainstream conservatives” are using the app to organize and recruit for pro-Trump events, such as the Capitol siege and the “Million MAGA March” in Washington DC, according to the ADL.
Who’s behind it?
Mercer, a prominent conservative donor, said she is helping to bankroll Parler “to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,” she said in a statement in November.
Mercer is the daughter of Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager and the co-founder of the now-defunct political data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica. The Mercers have been prominent supporters of President Donald Trump and conservative causes.
For years, the Mercers have been key benefactors of conservative groups, ranging from the Heritage Foundation think tank, where Rebekah Mercer serves on the board of trustees, to organizations that have produced anti-Hillary-Clinton books and movies.
What’s the future for Parler?
The decision, which goes into force on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time, will shut down Parler’s website and app until it can find a new hosting provider.