Parler has been thrust to the center stage by Trump Supporters recently, heralded as a “Free Speech” alternative to Twitter.
Launched in 2018 by John Matze, a fervent Trump supporter and bankrolled by Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of Robert Mercer- famous for funding the now defunct data collection agency Cambridge Analytical which stole the data of 87 Million Facebook users under the guise of a personality app and then sold it to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for their 2016 Presidential campaigns, Parler is set to surpass the infamy of the former.
Populated mostly by far-right extremists, QAnon Conspiracy theorists and radicalized Trump loyalists that have been suspended or banned from traditional social media outlets, Parler has been described as the virtual “Home of Hate” by critics. However, users of the micro-blogging website, which has seen an extraordinary surge in the last 24 hours (That crashed the entire site on the even of January 8.) since Donald Trump was himself suspended by Twitter, laud it as a digital stronghold where free speech is uninhibited by political correctness- or inconvenienced by legalities.
The term “Free Speech” is often used as a sort of Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free-Card one grants themselves to justify unrepentant, often hyper-aggressive hate speech. Those who lament their suspension or permanent ban from traditional social media platforms typically punctuate it with complaints about their constitutional rights of Free Speech being violated. They appear to be in a perpetual state of shock when they realize that Freedom of speech does not grant them immunity from accountability for the things they say, threats they make or hatred they extoll routinely. Fortunately for them, Parler has no such guidelines or moderation.
Which is perhaps why the recent siege on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters was organized using Parler- as well as other fringe social media site like Gab- completely unhindered by any oversight. The insurrection saw 5 people die as a result of the riot, including a police officer. Enraged members of the mob, many of whom carried confederate flags alongside Trump flags, wore hats, shirts and scarves branded with Trump’s famous campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, brought assault rifles, Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs and even a home-made gallows, complete with a noose. Twitter users who, out of curiosity, created shill accounts for Parler, reposted terrifying screenshots featuring hundreds of conversation threads where users conspired and collaborated to execute the events that unfolded on that fateful day. As American leaders sat in session behind the heavy doors of the gallery to ratify the results of the electoral college and formally announce that Joe Biden had won the election held last November, the rioters beat down the doors, broke the windows, overwhelmed the police and attempted to gain access to the Senators and Congressmen within.
They intended to kill them. According to posts on Parler, more specifically, they planned to go after Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House representing the Democrat party who was perceived as leading the impeachment charge on Donald Trump in 2018. Members of Parler also circulated a map of offices inside the Capitol Building directing attendees to Nancy Pelosi’s office where they hoped to find her.
Videos that have emerged in the aftermath show the rioters flooding the corridor outside of Speaker Pelosi’s office where they tore down her nameplate and destroyed it, vandalized her office, stole a laptop, and one rioter, now identified as Richard Barnett, sat in her chair with his feet one her desk before stealing her mail and gloating about it on video. Barnett was a Trump loyalist who had been consumed by the US President’s false claims of the recent election being stolen from him by a fictitious deep state cabal. Since 2016, President Trump has been grooming his followers to believe that if he did not win the 2020 election, which would have granted him a second term, that it was all fraudulent- entirely rigged by his detractors- but only if he were to lose. He did, in fact, lose. Unfortunately, he succeeded in the thought-training of his followers, having had it parroted thousands of times over four years, they now possesses the irrational and unwavering belief that the election has been stolen by Trumps enemies who were now, by proxy, their enemies as well. Identifying themselves as “Patriots” they have committed to fighting tirelessly on the former President’s behalf.
Before being banned from nearly every mainstream social media platform, Trump used his accounts to inspire hatred, provoke the anxieties and fears of his followers and manipulate an alarming number of people into believing his relentless onslaught of conspiracy theories and easily debunked lies. His influence over these people has been leveraged to devastating effect and we’ve now witnessed the consequences. He radicalize them, incited them to commit atrocities, and then told them via video: “We love you. You are very special” as Government lawmakers hid, comforted each other and prayed.
Trump has created a parallel universe for his followers to live in- one far departed from reality. Now, those people are walled off in the echo chamber of hate and self pity that is Parler, home to former KKK leader David Duke, notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, organizations like Holocaust deniers of VDARE, the self described “Most Hated woman in the world,” Katie Hopkins… and Larry the Cable Guy. Of note, Parler also now plays host to Republican Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). Conservative members of the House of Representative have also joined Parler, including Q-Anon conspiracy peddler and Trump acolyte Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York- all of who wanted to overturn the US election in Trump’s favor, negating millions of votes for Trump’s opposition.
The Parler platform is a cesspool of anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, threats of violence toward political figures and coordination of insurrection events. Currently, screenshots that will not be shared here due to the extreme nature, are being circulated that show users coordinating an attack on Washington D.C. on January 19th, the day before President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. “No Army or Police Agency will stop us.” proclaims one user.
“Today the cowards ran as we took the Capital (sic.) They have it back only because we left. It wasn’t the building that we wanted… It was them!” Said another.
Now that the US President has been de-platformed everywhere else due to his dangerous rhetoric, the users of Parler are elated, believing that Donald Trump will soon be joining them on their platform… and so are the creator. That is, if he can find it. As awareness spreads of Parlor becoming a breeding ground for domestic terrorism, both Apple and Google Play have removed the app due to violation of its terms of service.
However, once he does find it, they already have his place reserved.