The self-proclaimed “unbiased” platform Parler has the potential to become a mainstream platform, social media analysts say, but its one-sided political audience could stunt its growth.
“If Parler can’t grow beyond its current conservative user base, it will be a trend that quickly fades. It’s going to need to get more diversified users and diversified content,” social media marketing expert and Digital Trailblazer owner Todd Getts told the Washington Examiner.
“Parler has a chance at sustaining some momentum because it’s based on the concept of free speech,” said Jason Falls, author and digital strategist at Cornett. However, those focused on testing the bounds of free speech could create “fringe groups” on the platform that “are the primary cause of consternation with networks like Facebook and Twitter,” he said.
Parler was created in 2018 and has recently gained traction in conservative circles, with politicians and commentators tweeting their support for the app. A main selling point of the app is that it wouldn’t “censor” conservatives. Interest surged last week when Twitter placed a “public interest notice” on President Trump’s tweet for saying those who try to make an “Autonomous Zone” in Washington, D.C., will “be met with serious force.”
We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.https://t.co/AcmW6O6d4t
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) June 23, 2020
Reddit banned a large pro-Trump group on its site for violating its hate speech rules. These incidents have caused many conservatives to jump over to Parler, with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky tweeting “it’s about time” that others got on the platform.
It’s about time y’all joined me on @parler_app . What’s taking the rest of you so long?!
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 24, 2020
John Matze, the CEO and founder of Parler, is working on getting more liberals to join the site and has set up a “progressive bounty” to help the process. He is offering $20,000 to a liberal pundit with more than 50,000 followers on Twitter or Facebook to promote and create a Parler account.
“Parler is very interesting to us,” Getts said. “It has all of the foundations of a great social media platform.”
Parler is set up similarly to Twitter, with a couple of differences in wording and format. Instead of “likes” and “retweets” on Twitter, Parler calls them “votes” and “echos.”
A significant difference between Parler and Twitter is user verification to private message others. To private message another person, a user must verify their account by scanning the front and back of his or her license and taking a picture of themself. After scanning the license, Parler has a waiting period to verify users before they can send a private message to others. Parler says it does this to ensure a user isn’t a bot.
“We’re a community town square, an open town square, with no censorship,” Matze said on Fox News’s Neil Cavuto. The platform won’t have any fact-checkers, and people can post inaccurate information, but other users will be able to comment and disagree with the post.
“They can make any claim they’d like, but they’re going to be met with a lot of commenters, a lot of people who are going to disagree with them,” Matze said. “That’s how society works, right? If you make a claim, people are going to come and fact check you organically.”
“I think going up to the election, the remaining four months we have, there will be a lot of demand for places people really feel like they have freedom of speech, no matter who they support,” Mari Smith, one of Forbes’s Top Ten Social Media Influencers and a leading expert in Facebook marketing, told the Washington Examiner. However, at the moment, Parler is not a major threat to Twitter. It is only competition for a small portion of Twitter’s audience, mainly disgruntled Trump supporters, she said.
“At a glance, [Parler] seems to have captured a recent, fast-growing audience based on the polarization of politics that exhibits what is the recent negative downside of social media rather than what was the upside and positive aspects that attracted us all to join platforms like Twitter and Facebook a decade ago,” Jeff Bullas, an author and social media expert, told the Washington Examiner. Instead of fun and entertainment, the platform is allowing people to tear people down for differing views.
“If it just becomes a pulpit and soapbox to shout, berate, and hate, then I think it is not going to have a long shelf life or go mainstream,” Bullas said.
In one week, Parler went from 1 million users to 1.5 million users, Matze said. This surge was caused by an article in the Wall Street Journal that suggested Parler as an alternative social media platform after Trump said he was looking for a platform besides Twitter and Facebook.
Although the company was never meant to look like a pro-Trump platform, it seems to attract conservatives because “they seem to be the ones that are most affected by Twitter censorship or Facebook censorship,” Matze said.
Parler was top-ranked in the news category for iPhone apps and ranked 24th overall. The site has clear community guidelines that ban spam, terrorist organizations or support for them, unsolicited advertisements, fighting words used to incite violence, blackmail, and pornography.
“Censorship, suspensions, bans, and demonetization is a problem for many users, influencers, and businesses who are completely nonpolitical in their content,” Getts said. “For example, Instagram and Twitter, in an attempt to squash bots and spam accounts, often penalize perfectly legitimate accounts with bans and suspensions for normal behavior.” Parler has an opportunity to reach many people who are tired of Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube censorship.
“I think one key to Parler’s growth will be for major influencers and content creators [who rely on their social media for income] to realize that they can make money on Parler,” Getts said. “If they can monetize their profiles, you’ll see them start to migrate over and bring their audiences with them. But there needs to be a way for them to monetize their profiles.” Right now, people on Parler can give “tips” for users overall content or for a specific post they make.
The post Twitter alternative Parler faces growth obstacle: Too few liberals appeared first on Washington Examiner.