Parler’s post-election popularity sparks misinformation concerns

The rising popularity of alternative social media app Parler is raising concerns over the spread of misinformation and potential for radicalizing users on a platform that’s taken a hands-off approach to regulating content.

The app has been boosted by conservatives, surging since Election Day, as Republicans amp up allegations of anti-conservative bias from social media giants Twitter and Facebook, which have clamped down on pro-Trump election misinformation.

Experts warn that a total lack of content moderation could prove harmful beyond creating political echo chambers and further spreading conspiracy theories.

“Anytime you take a laissez faire approach to moderation — you say, ‘anything goes’ right up until actual threats of real world violence — that creates a huge space for some really problematic things to happen,” said Bret Schafer, a fellow focusing on disinformation at the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Founded in 2018, Parler describes itself as “committed to free speech” and boasts that it “does not censor content based on politics or ideology.”

The company has criticized Facebook and Twitter over their approaches to moderating content, with Parler’s rhetoric largely echoing that of Republican lawmakers who have accused social media giants of silencing conservative voices and points of view.

While Facebook and Twitter said in the lead-up to the election that they would label content that prematurely declares victory, Parler released a memo detailing plans to “host unfiltered content during the 2020 election season.”

“Can we now move everybody from Twitter to Parler?” Fox News host Sean Hannity said on air earlier this week. “Can we just make the shift together? Just say, ‘goodbye, Twitter. See ya at Jack [Dorsey]. Nice try.’ ”