Tech

Parler's 15 minutes of fame may well already be over

The same conservatives it tried to attract are losing interest because there are no libs to own on the service.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images

As fast as it rose to fame, Parler seems to be falling in popularity again. Data from app analytics firm App Annie indicates that while the self-proclaimed "free speech" alternative to Twitter was the most downloaded app on November 6, the day of the presidential election, today it doesn't even appear within the top 500 rankings.

So-called censorship — A slew of conservatives, right-wing extremists, and conspiracy theorists flocked to Parler after Twitter and Facebook stepped up their content moderation efforts in the run-up to the election. Major personalities including Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. urged their followers to move to the platform, and subsequently Parler grew from 4.5 million users to 8 million in just one week.

But a cursory glance today shows Cruz and others continue to post far more often on Twitter, despite repeated claims by the same people that they're being censored on the platform over their conservative views (they're not).

Parler's popularity may have been short lived.David Gilbert / Twitter

The quick fall of Parler should be of no surprise. For one, the app is amateur hour — with a lack of real security measures and a deluge of porn, to say nothing of its clunky interface and dearth of features. The data also likely reflects a lot of people who tried Parler once and never returned.

Trolls can't be trolls — The bigger problem, though, is how Parler is a complete and total echo chamber. It's used almost exclusively by conservatives, whom are inherently reactionary. Many subscribe to "Cleek's Law," whereby they attempt to "own the libs" by taking whatever position is opposite to what their healthcare-loving socialist-leaning opponents put forward. Getting people with opposing views riled up on Facebook or Twitter is great for reinforcing cycles of engagement that those platforms reward with more reach. When there are no "libertards" to fight with, though, well, it's not much fun.

Parler is boring because there's none of the conflict hatemongers need to flourish and feel a sense of self-worth. Watching conservatives bicker over the finer points of Donald Trump's latest baseless claim is, well, pretty pathetic and very sad.

For what it's worth, Parler isn't as much of the free speech bastion it claims to be anyway. Reports indicate that the company has banned "leftist trolls" and content that is inconvenient to the right-wing. Ironic considering Parler thinks Twitter and Facebook should lose their right to moderate content because doing so apparently violates freedom of speech. It doesn't, of course, since they're private entities — the freedom to start your own alternative social network where you set the rules is exactly how this is all supposed to work.