Right-wing users flock to Parler as social media giants rein in misinformation

Since the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Parler has caught on among right-wing politicians and “influencers” – people with large online followings – as a social media platform where they can share and promote ideas without worrying about the company blocking or flagging their posts for being dangerous or misleading. However, the website has become a haven for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists who are now interacting with the mainstream conservatives flocking to the platform.

As the three highest-profile social media companies – YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – continue to take action to mitigate the spread of extremism and disinformation, Parler has welcomed the ensuing exodus of right-wing users. It has exploded in popularity, doubling its members to 10 million during the month of November – although it is still dwarfed by Twitter’s roughly 330 million monthly active users.

With its newfound success, the site is contributing to the widening gap

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Right-wing Social Media Had to Divorce Reality

If successful, the app is likely to reinforce hyper-partisan, bespoke realities, in which people inside each bubble barely even encounter information that might challenge their preconceptions. An open question, though, is whether the most extreme and conspiratorial communities can expand their membership if Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube refuse to let them spread misinformation. The content that people see has profound real-world consequences. Many of the echo chambers and bespoke realities prevalent today, such as the spaces devoted to QAnon and political extremism, exist because the largest social-media companies designed their platforms to maximize user engagement and ignored the unintended consequences of algorithmic recommendations, rankings, and curation. After being misused for purposes of election manipulation, political violence, and even genocide, mainstream platforms are reckoning more and more with the implications of their power.

Events since the election underscore both the ability of major platforms to limit the spread of misinformation and

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