Number of the Day

Parler’s Right-Wing Post-Election Boom, by the Numbers

The Mercer-backed “free speech–focused” social network has seen its popularity soar during the election

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

10 million: That’s how many people have signed up to use the newish alternative social media platform Parler as of Monday. Users have doubled over the past week, according to the Wall Street Journal. (It was also the top-ranked download in the news category, and the 10th-ranked free app overall in Apple’s App Store, according to App Annie, which tracks app downloads.)

Although it was founded in 2018, Parler has attracted widespread interest in the aftermath of the presidential election for its reputation as a safe space for conservatives to say whatever they please, free from the mainstream social media platforms’ efforts to police misinformation. Right-leaning media stars have led the charge recently, setting up on Parler and exhorting fans to follow them there. Meanwhile, the platform has also reportedly become a home for some anti-Semitic and white supremacist rhetoric, as well as plenty of wild-eyed conspiracy theories.

Parler’s CEO has described a future ad model that “will be specific around influencers,” meaning advertisers will sponsor specific users rather than the platform in general, but for now, revenue doesn’t seem to be a priority. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the social network’s lead investor is heiress Rebekah Mercer, who along with her father, billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, is known for backing right-wing causes and organizations.

In a post on Parler, Rebekah Mercer described the service as “a neutral platform for free speech,” necessary to counter the “ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords.” Whether that’s an idea that can succeed over time isn’t clear, but for now, the fledgling social network is having a moment.

If you think Facebook and Twitter are failing to curb harmful content, imagine if they didn’t even try.

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