Twitter’s crackdown on election misinformation over the past few weeks has seen the President’s tweets littered with warnings of “disputed” or “misleading” content, and he’s got plenty of company. Right-wing allies joined him in a huff on the Twitter naughty step, complaining of un-American censorship and suppression of their unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud.
This apparent censorship has angered conservative Tweeters so much, that they are now turning in great numbers to Parler, the conservative copy of Twitter, and the self-described ‘Free Speech Social Network’ where no attempts to correct blatant misinformation occurs.
The app saw 980,000 downloads between Election Day and November 8th, with over half of them (636,000) coming on Sunday 8th, and it reached the top spot in the iOS App Store among free apps, rising from position 1,023 at the start of November.
Since Parler was created, conservative personalities and advocates have been trying desperately to drum up interest in the app and build their audience there, tweeting threats like “I will be leaving Twitter soon” and encouraging their followers to migrate to the haven of misinformation and conspiracy.
These empty threats never really worked, largely due to the fact that Parler lacked the mass audience on offer at Twitter that many conservatives still thrived among and profited from. However, thanks to a hotly contested election, the right-wing outrage at Trump’s loss, and the continued collective screaming into the void about the media’s vendetta against Trump, Parler has managed to build that audience they were so craving.
What’s on Parler?
Parler is populated by a wide range of right-wing Trump supporters, spanning from Senators and Representatives like Ted Cruz and Matt Gaetz, social media figures like Diamond And Silk, and the original internet extremist and conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, who has been banned from pretty much every other platform.
Having had push notifications turned on for the past several weeks on the app, I’ve been bombarded by the universal Parler push to de-legitimise the election results, claims that Democrats are trying to “STEAL” the election (usually written in all caps for added impact), and calls to “fight back” against “the steal” a lot like the below:
The sudden mass migration to Parler and the extreme partisan tone of those on the site who are fired up to fight the election results, have turned the site into a purity test for conservatives where even the likes of Fox News aren’t safe.
Any mild dissent to the Parler narrative that there was mass election fraud and that the Democrats are indeed trying to steal the election, is met with site-wide condemnation. The fact conservative main-stays like Trump’s favourite television network, Fox, have come under criticism from Parler users purely because they had the audacity to report that Joe Biden has been elected President, is quite incredible.
Accounts have been posting about how Fox News is now officially “100% DEM” and asking fellow users if they are “done with Fox News” thanks to network calling the Arizona election result for the Democrats.
Trump supporter and former Sheriff, David A. Clarke Jr., posted of Fox News that, “conservative viewers made them #1 in the ratings and viewers can unmake them #1… STOP WATCHING FOX NEWS”, followed by the Fox News logo with Trump’s famous “You’re Fired’ line scribbled over it. The comment section agreed, with people stating they “can’t watch” the channel anymore as they are “corrupt like CNN”.
Others are caught in two minds because of their love for the likes of Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, the channel’s most right-wing and Trump-loving commentators. The rest of the network should “take a beating” according to them.
The Right Wing Purity Test
‘Cancel-culture’ was something the right generally considered an aberration to free speech, and was seemingly one of the main reasons they grew disgruntled with mainstream platforms and fled to Parler. However, it looks like now they’ve found their safe space of like-minded right-wingers, any dissenting views or even slight misstep away from the accepted narrative deserves boycotting and cancellation.
For years, Fox News has nurtured this Trumpian mindset in their viewers, but now that the network hasn’t thrown its weight behind Trump and backed his false allegations of voter fraud, many feel betrayed, with Fox no longer being far enough to the right to satisfy their burning addiction for Trump.
One of the last remaining Fox personalities who does scratch the itch for Parler users, Tucker Carlson, has noticed this growing sentiment against his network, and jumped on the Parler bandwagon to cement his place in the hearts of his loyal followers. He recently became active on Parler, posting one of his trademark rants against the left.
Clearly, Fox have angered their base and Parler is the place to vent. Users of Parler and Gab (the slightly more extreme platform) have been suggesting alternative news sources such as Newsmax to switch to.
As CNN reports, Newsmax has exploded from an average of just 25,000 viewers over the summer to certain shows hitting up to 800,000 viewers during the past few weeks, and averaging close to 500,000 average viewers across the network. They have also seen their Twitter following increase by up to 70,000 new followers each day since the election.
Trump voters are wounded by his election loss, and are going to extreme lengths to ensure that the news they consume and the social media they engage with refuses to accept reality. As long as Trump and his enablers continue to insist the election was stolen, his supporters will ensure the media they consume reinforces that view… or else.
In valiant efforts to prevent false information from thriving on their platforms, mainstream social media sites have seen an exodus of sorts to sites like Parler, who accept erroneous, unfounded conspiracies and play up to the fantasies of the right. With no restrictions enforced, and with inflammatory language encouraged, bizarre claims like the below will continue to fester and rot the political discourse online.
Main Photo by Kayla Velasquez on Unsplash