Jim Fisher

Not a day goes by that I don’t see one of my Facebook friends announce that they are giving up Facebook for Parler. Parler.com is a social network that is sort of a mix between Twitter and Facebook. So what is Parler and why has it become an overnight phenomenon?

Fair warning: It's "Parler.com" (French for "to speak") not "Parlor." The latter is an adult website. I didn't know that until before my coffee this morning when I began my research but I sure know now! Anyway, according to their website, Parler allows you to “Speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being ‘deplatformed’ for your views. Parler is people and privacy-focused, and gives you the tools you need to curate your Parler experience.”

The catalyst for the creation of Parler started a few years ago when Facebook and Twitter started “de-platforming” certain groups dedicated to conspiracy theories, white supremacy, anti-vaccination, and other controversial subjects that Facebook’s investors, advertisers, and normal people deem unacceptable. Facebook responded by either making it difficult to find these groups in searches or outright deleting the groups. In an attempt to slow the spread of misinformation, Facebook and Twitter also started fact-checking individuals who post “news” that has been deemed inaccurate or unsupported by “independent” fact-checkers. Therefore, Parler opened its doors to these people in September 2018 but really gathered steam over the last few weeks during the assertion that Democrats stole the election from President Trump.

There are also some interesting conspiracy theories floating around about Parler’s connection to Russia. The founder evidently met his Russian wife about two years ago in Las Vegas. She was in America for a two-week vacation. After they met, they traveled back and forth between Russia and the US which, in this political climate, is a bit suspicious. Then the founder suddenly came into a pretty large sum of money to start this new venture. The obvious speculation is that Russia is involved but there are a few ultra-conservative people who invested in the venture, too.

The problem I have with unfettered sites like Parler is that they often cater to the fringes of society and inevitably deteriorate into platforms for vitriol, hate, and violence. It’s only a matter of time before Parler gets blamed for some violent act-- which is one reason Facebook and Twitter started clamping down on some of the nastiness. Our poor world has enough problems as it is without feeding the trolls.

I joined for research purposes and, well, there are no cute puppy pictures at all which is quite ominous. I’m convinced that many of the Parler people are the ones who leave their shopping buggies in a parking spot instead of walking it to the corral. If Parler is your thing well, you do you. But, really, social media isn’t an airport; you do not have to announce your departure.

Jim Fisher owns Excel Computer Services in Florence. Reach him at www.ExcelAL.com