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Conservative politicians from President Trump on down have long complained about alleged anti-conservative bias at mainstream social media services like Facebook and Twitter. Lately, some Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, think they’ve found a more conservative-friendly home: Parler, a Twitter rival that bills itself as “an unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement.”
In recent weeks, Parler has gained a huge amount of buzz among devotees of Make America Great Again. Here’s a quick guide to get you up to speed on the service.
What is Parler?
Parler is a social media service launched in 2018 by University of Denver graduates John Matze and Jared Thomson. It allows users to share short messages of up to 1,000 characters in length, about four times the length available on Twitter. Users can follow the feeds of others and vote in favor of posts, similar to a “like” on Twitter. Users can also add posts written by others to their own feed via a function called echo, like Twitter’s retweet feature. The service also includes direct messaging.
Who owns Parler?
Matze, who serves as CEO, and Thomson, who is Parler’s chief technology officer, have not disclosed Parler’s ownership. The pair say they raised angel funding from friends to start the service and that they may seek more venture capital backing soon.
Update: In November, 2020, conservative donor Rebekah Mercer revealed that she was a backer of the service. “John and I started 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,” Mercer wrote in a post on Parler.
Is Parler free?
Parler is free to use. The service plans to include ads in the near future and may eventually provide some form of sponsorship or revenue sharing with popular users.
Why are conservatives using Parler?
Parler has a decidedly conservative slant. New users are prompted to follow feeds, with the top suggestions being conservative publications Breitbart News, the Epoch Times, the Daily Caller, and the Washington Times opinion section. Similarly, the top suggested users to follow are all conservatives including commentator Dan Bongino, Eric Trump, lawyer and radio host Mark Levin, Sen. Rand Paul, and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. Liberal users are a “very minute share of the population,” cofounder Matze said in an interview with Forbes. Matze says his influences include conservative economist Thomas Sowell and libertarian author Ayn Rand.
Parler’s founders have also said they plan to allow posts that may be removed, blocked, or tagged as misinformation on other sites. President Trump and other conservatives have alleged bias when Twitter has removed or labeled their posts. “There are going to be no fact-checkers,” Matze told Forbes. “You’re not going to be told what to think and what to say.” He told CNBC: “If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler.”
Which big-name conservatives are using the Parler app?
In addition to Bongino, Eric Trump, Levin, Paul, and Giuliani, other top conservative users of the site include activist Candace Owens, commentator Laura Loomer, Rep. Devin Nunes, Rep. Jim Jordan, and Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson. Although there are no prominent liberal commentators on Parler yet, CEO Matze told CNBC he would pay $20,000 for a liberal who had at least 50,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter to join his service.
What does “echo” mean on Parler?
Parler has a feature that lets users repost any other user’s post on their own feed through a feature called echo, much like Twitter’s retweet function.
How is Parler different from Facebook and Twitter?
With an estimated 2 million users, Parler’s audience is much smaller than Facebook’s, which has 1.7 billion daily active users, or Twitter’s, which has 166 million.
Also, while Twitter and Facebook have extensive policies about permitted and banned topics, Parler says it’s taking a less restrictive approach. “I don’t see why you need to censor the President’s tweets,” Matze told CNBC. “If you don’t like what he has to say, vote him out of office.”
Despite its free-speech mission, Parler’s terms of service include an unusual section making users liable for damages if Parler is sued because of a user’s post. In short, the company can bill users if those users get the company into legal trouble. “You agree to defend and indemnify Parler, as well as any of its officers, directors, employees, and agents, from and against any and all claims, actions, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to all attorneys fees) arising from or relating to your access to and use of the Services,” the agreement states.
How do you get verified on Parler?
Verification on Parler, which the service calls becoming a citizen, requires sending the service a copy of the front and back of a driver’s license plus a selfie photo. Users who are verified get a red badge on their profile, similar to Twitter’s blue check mark, to denote that they are who they say they are. Well-known people get a gold badge, and parody accounts are marked with a purple badge.
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