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Does Parler Matter?

December 17, 2020LeAnne Gault

What is Parler?

Founded in 2018 by two Nevada-based software engineers, John Matze and Jared Thomson, Parler — which is named after the French word meaning “to speak” — has said it is a free speech platform, with much looser guidelines around what people can post to the site. Rebekah Mercer was recently identified a major investor of the microblogging and social media app. Mercer, who along with her father, hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, has been a backer of President Trump and is also a major donor to conservative causes, including Breitbart News and former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

During the presidential campaigning and election, Parler became one of the most downloaded apps on Apple and Android smartphones. Parler users jumped from around 4 million to about 8 million during the week of the Presidential election as mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter clamped down on misinformation. 

Still, that is just a tiny fraction of Twitter's 187 million daily users and Facebook's nearly 2 billion. Parler looks a lot like Twitter: You follow a feed of accounts, which post messages known as “Parleys." It is set up to amplify influencers via recommendations to follow them, automated campaigns that greet new members, discover features, hashtags, etc.

But the platform may not have the staying power of Facebook or Twitter. According to data from CNN Business, on “Oct. 25, Parler was downloaded about 16,000 times. Downloads peaked in mid-November, when it was downloaded nearly 340,000 times in a single day. On Monday, it was downloaded nearly 20,000 times. Daily active users on Parler shot up from about 500,000 on Oct. 25 to a peak of about 2.9 million in late November and have since fallen to 2.3 million.”

Does Parler Matter?

In a word, “yes”. Any platform that allows little or no content moderation can be a breeding ground for the proliferation of volatile narratives. In recent years, cries of conservative bias or accusations of censorship have made way for several alternative platforms, including Gab, 4chan and 8chan. 

In the summer of 2020, Parler co-founder Matze offered a $20k “progressive bounty” for a liberal pundit with at least 50k Twitter or Facebook followers to join the platform. And many high-profile conservatives with hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter urged others to join Parler. And 2.3 million active daily users is something to monitor. 

It is important to remember that the narratives on Parler are most likely very conservative, and anything shared there can become politicized. So participating on that platform might not be as effective as using Narrative Intelligence to understand the conversations happening there. Knowing what narratives are being amplified and by which entities gives government agencies and organizations valuable intelligence into the coincidental and coordinated amplification of specific narratives which can then be used to counter misinformation campaigns and avoid a media crisis.

With traditional monitoring tools, organizations don’t always have the ability to see what is being shared on new, “fringe” platforms such as Parler. Kudzu isn’t just a monitoring tool. It’s an intelligence tool. Kudzu provides clear insights into the volume, amplification, and top trends that enable organizations, agencies, and investors to understand the public perceptions of a brand, industry, or investment. Every day our Narrative Intelligence analyzes tens of thousands text, video, photographs, and social media feeds to detect viral narratives, identify which of the thousands of entities we track are proliferating the narrative and then it can contextualize the conversations. 

Kudzu is a simple web-based interface, so there’s nothing to download or install. Contact us to get a demo and see what it can do for your organization.

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