A questionable source exhibits one or more of the following: extreme bias, consistent promotion of propaganda/conspiracies, poor or no sourcing to credible information, a complete lack of transparency and/or is fake news. Fake News is the deliberate attempt to publish hoaxes and/or disinformation for the purpose of profit or influence (Learn More). Sources listed in the Questionable Category may be very untrustworthy and should be fact checked on a per article basis. Please note sources on this list are not considered fake news unless specifically written in the reasoning section for that source. See all Questionable sources.
- Overall, we rate Parler to be extreme right in bias and a Questionable social media outlet based on membership that consists of mostly far-right questionable sources, promotion of conspiracy theories, propaganda, and hate, as well as a lack of transparency and frequent publishing of fake news.
Reasoning: Extreme Right, Poor Sources, Conspiracy, Propaganda, Hate, Lack of Transparency, Fake News
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in September 2018 by John Matze and Jared Thomson, Parler is a Social Networking Service with a membership that caters to conservatives and those who align with the far-right. Matze is the company’s chief executive officer and Thomson serves as the chief technology officer. Both Matze and Thomson are alumni of the University of Denver computer science program.
The site markets itself as a “free speech” and unbiased alternative to mainstream social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The majority of political figures and groups publishing on Parler derive from the far-right and often promote Donald Trump and conspiracy theories. The Social Media Network has become home to those who have been banned from other networks such as Rudy Giuliani, Gavin McInnes, Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Jacob Wohl. Parler is available as a website as well as an Apple and Android APP.
Some notable dates include:
- In December 2018 a tweet by conservative activist, Candace Owens brought 40,000 users to the site.
- In June 2019, Parler said its user base more than doubled when around 200,000 accounts from Saudi Arabia signed up to the network.
- In May 2020, after President Trump’s tweets were flagged for misinformation regarding mail-in ballots, Parler published a “Declaration of Internet Independence” modeled after the United States Declaration of Independence and began using the #Twexit hashtag, which resulted in a surge of sign-ups.
- On June 24, 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump campaign was looking for alternatives to social media networks that had restricted their posts and advertising and that Parler was being considered.
- On October 1, 2020, Reuters broke a story that people associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency, a group known for their interference in the 2016 presidential election, had been operating social media accounts on Parler.
- During and after the 2020 Presidential Election many on Facebook and Twitter have vowed to leave and join Parler due to social networks’ efforts to quash misinformation about the election.
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Funded by / Ownership
Parler is owned by John Matze and Jared Thomson through Parler LLC, though they lack transparency as they do not make this clear on the website. On June 16, 2020, Conservative commentator Dan Bongino announced that he had purchased an “ownership stake” in Parler. Funding has been secured through Angel Investors with plans for a future advertising revenue model.
Analysis / Bias
In review, Parler is a social media platform that caters to conservatives and those that have been banned from other networks for a variety of reasons, including the promotion of hate as well as misinformation. Like Facebook and Twitter, Parler offers a curated/aggregated newsfeed called Affiliates. These consist of mostly right-leaning sources such as JustTheNews, National Review and Biz Pac Review, however, some sources are questionable such as the Geller Report, CNS News, and the Gatestone Institute. Also, they do not use an algorithm to promote certain posts but rather rely on Votes (likes) and Echos (reposts/shares) or as they call it Parleys. Parler, like Twitter, also limits post length, in their case to 1000 characters. Further, again like Twitter, they label official accounts with public figures receiving a gold badge, parody accounts a purple badge, and Government officials a red badge.
Upon signing up you are asked to personalize your experience by choosing accounts to follow. In my case, I was presented with the following far-right questionable sources such as Sean Hannity, Prager U, Ted Cruz, Daily Mail, American Greatness, Mises, Mark Levin, and Zero Hedge. There were many others, but all were from a right-leaning perspective. Once on the site, you can follow accounts and can click the “Discover” link, which pulls up current posts from prominent members. For example, there is a new account called @StopTheSteal that is publishing election conspiracy theories from Questionable sources such as Steve Bannon and unverified/debunked Youtube videos. Most of the information posted here has already been debunked by fact-checkers.
While Parler purports to be unbiased and promotes free-speech they have been criticized for banning those with liberal perspectives. For example, Will Duffield of the Cato Institute wrote that founder Matze had also instituted a blanket ban on Antifa supporters. They have also banned accounts for criticizing Parler. In general, Parler is only as biased and factual as its members, and at this point, that would indicate extreme right-wing bias and low factual information. Finally, they are not unbiased and DO censor voices they do not agree with. What makes this social media network different is they are 100% one-sided without offering a counter perspective.
Failed Fact Checks
- Parler does not produce original content, however, its high profile members consist of those that frequently fail fact checks. Further, its founders have proclaimed that the site engages in minimal moderation and will not fact-check posts. They have also said they will allow posts that have been removed or flagged as misinformation on other social media networks like Twitter, including those that promote hate. According to the Anti-Defamation League, they state that social media outlets such as Parler are promoting the false “Democratic election theft” narrative that they believe it is greatly increasing the risk of violence.
Overall, we rate Parler to be extreme right in bias and a Questionable social media outlet based on membership that consists of mostly far-right questionable sources, promotion of conspiracy theories, propaganda, and hate, as well as a lack of transparency and frequent publishing of fake news. (D. Van Zandt 11/9/2020)
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