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Parler: ‘Free speech’ app popular with far-right figures bans people for speaking freely, users claim

App shot to top of US charts after Facebook and Twitter cracked down on voter fraud conspiracy theories following Joe Biden’s victory

Anthony Cuthbertson
Thursday 12 November 2020 13:46 GMT
Parler was created after prominent right-wing figures complained mainstream social media companies were silencing them
Parler was created after prominent right-wing figures complained mainstream social media companies were silencing them

Parler, a self-styled “free speech” app popular with far-right figures, has been accused of banning users and removing content expressing contradictory or critical sentiments.

The app saw a surge in popularity following the US elections after Facebook and Twitter cracked down on “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorists posting baseless claims about widespread voting fraud.

It became the most-downloaded app in the US over the weekend, with Parler founder John Matze revealing the app added two million new users in a single day after the election was called in favour of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Parler describes itself as “unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement” that promotes “free expression without violence and no censorship.”

Among the most popular accounts are the US president’s son Eric Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and Benny Johnson from the controversial croup Turning Point USA.

Mr Johnson announced earlier this year that he was leaving Twitter because he was “disgusted with the censorship" on the site, claiming it was “aggressively anti-free speech”.

Now Parler is facing similar accusations, with some left-leaning users reporting on Twitter that they were banned for expressing contrarian opinions.

Despite positioning itself as a libertarian platform promoting freedon of expression, Parler’s community guidelines are more than 1,500 words and include rules that go far beyond legal requirements.

The guidelines forbid “posts that are irrelevant to the conversation”. Female nipples, even cartoon or drawn ones, are also banned, but “buttock is acceptable”.

The User Agreement also states: “Parler may remove any content and terminate your access to the Services at any time and for any reason.”

Some users of more conventional social media platforms noted that the move appeared contradictory to some right-wing tropes that liberals and those on the left are “snowflakes”.

John Matze previously offered a $20,000 reward to any “openly liberal pundit” with more than 50,000 Facebook or Twitter followers to join the platform.

In an interview with CNBC in June, the Parler CEO said: “The whole company was never intended to be a pro-Trump thing. A lot of the audience is pro-Trump. I don’t care. I’m not judging them either way.”

Parler did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

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