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Abcarian: Looking for right-wingers banned from Twitter? Check out Parler. Or better yet, don't

The LA Times logo The LA Times 11/29/2020 Robin Abcarian
a close up of a logo: Since Twitter has begun banning more users and fact-checking some tweets, many of its alt-right users have decamped for Parler. (Associated Press) © Provided by The LA Times Since Twitter has begun banning more users and fact-checking some tweets, many of its alt-right users have decamped for Parler. (Associated Press)

Do you miss the racists rants of David Duke? The white nationalist blather of the Proud Boys?

Are you dying to hear the alt-right wit and wisdom of Steve Bannon?

Have I got a social media website for you!

Parler is fast becoming the online equivalent of a Trump rally, minus the COVID-19.

It has become a home to the digitally homeless — those who have been kicked off Twitter for violating its rules against hate speech.

The site, whose user base exploded after President Trump lost to Joe Biden, says it now has more than 10 million accounts. That’s peanuts compared with social media giants Twitter and Facebook, of course, but significant, particularly since right-wing heavyweights are promoting it as a censorship-free alternative to the others.

“People from all walks of life, fed up with opaque, biased content curation, inconsistent agenda-driven fact checking, and manipulative algorithms built on data mining, are joining Parler to speak free,” wrote its founder John Matze in a letter to users this month.

How nice for Trump and his wackiest supporters to now have their own cesspool to muck about in.

They can’t trust Fox News anymore, with its annoying tendency to call elections fairly. Without fear of having warning labels slapped on their fictitious posts, they can freely promulgate their anti-democratic conspiracy theories about election fraud and their claims about imaginary pedophile rings masquerading as political parties.

If these conservative fantasists can be contained in their own alternate reality, maybe the rest of us can move on to saner online conversations.

Unfortunately, though, many of those who have embraced Parler (pronounced “parlor” even though it’s based on the French verb) are still major players on Twitter and Facebook.

In fact, they are using the older platforms to promote the new one. And for all their talk of censorship, there is almost no evidence they are serious about leaving Twitter or Facebook or any of the other platforms on which they have accrued so many followers. They are simply expanding their social media reach.

As the Washington Post noted Monday, conservatives like Fox News host Maria Bartiromo and talk show hosts Mark Levin and Dan Bongino (a Parler investor), have repeatedly bashed Twitter, all the while using it to drive traffic to their Parler accounts. (The New York Times reported Monday that, according to a global human rights group, Bongino and Levin have been among the top “superspreaders” of election misinformation.)

“I will no longer accept the censorship that is happening on Twitter,” Bartiromo sniffed Nov. 10 during an interview with Matze. Oh, please. With nearly a million Twitter followers of her own, Bartiromo has no intention of abandoning the platform. In fact, since her interview with Matze, she’s posted dozens and dozens of tweets.

Actually, there is one right-winger who wasn't banned on Twitter but seems to have largely abandoned the platform in recent days for Parler. That would be California’s nuttiest congressman, Devin Nunes, who has made a minor career of filing nuisance libel suits against Twitter parody accounts like @DevinCow.

“Eerily quiet here in the Twitter Sewer,” the Central Valley Republican tweeted wishfully on Nov. 11. “Thought for a second I went to MySpace by accident. Many people I follow have been vaporized by left wing tech tyrants. Hopefully they will reappear on Parler.... ”

Oh, trust me, your wacky buddies are all there, Devin.

There is also a ton of nudity and yucky sexual content on the site, too, because Parler claims not to believe in censorship, even though its user agreement says it can pull the plug on anyone at any time.

With Twitter and Facebook finally taking baby steps to rein in disinformation, it was probably inevitable that some entrepreneur would create a new platform for truth-spurning Trumpies.

"We're not a right-wing conservative site," Matze told Business Insider. "We're a public square."

Sure. But as the Wall Street Journal reported, the scion of a famously deep-pocketed right-wing family, Rebekah Mercer, secretly bankrolled the site, which launched in January 2018.

Mercer finally fessed up in a “parley” on Parler earlier this month: “John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended,” she wrote, “and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy…. The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining and for the protection of free speech online.”

Mercer’s father, Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire, was the monied patron who saved Breitbart.com after the death of its founder, Andrew Breitbart. You’ll remember that Bannon, who took the reins, described Breitbart.com as a platform for the alt-right.

Robert Mercer stunned the alt-right world three years ago when he abruptly pulled support from Breitbart and the execrable Milo Yiannopoulos’ site because of their cozy ties to white supremacists.

I doubt Parler will become a meaningful competitor to Twitter, but I guess right-wingers upset about the election need a safe space to lick their wounds and pretend that Trump won. On Parler, they can free themselves from the shackles of imaginary censorship, warning labels and, of course, reality.

@AbcarianLAT

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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