Q&A of the Day – Parler’s reach is larger than you think
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio
Today’s entry: I’m glad Parler’s back but how many users does it have compared to Twitter and Facebook? Can it really be considered a viable alternative at this point?
Bottom Line: It might feel as though Parler is this tiny little thing compared to something as well publicized as Twitter. The fact of the matter though – is that while Parler does have a way to go to catch Twitter’s active user count in this country – it's by no means dwarfed by them. In fact, even most people who cite Twitter, or have looked at it, don’t actually use it. In 2018 the Pew Research Center determined that only 22% of adults were active users of Twitter. Last October, Entrepreneur found that number had fallen to 19%. On Election Day, Twitter cited it had 48 million total US users. However, many weren’t active, some were determined to be bots, and after the January purge of users by Twitter, along with account closures from users who left the platform after they banned President Trump and other prominent conservatives...I’m sure the number is well below that total. For example, I’ve lost around 40% of my Twitter followers from the peak. So, 48 million would be a high watermark for Twitter with something closer to 40 million being far more likely in real-time. So how does Parler compare?
At the time of its resumption of service on Monday, Parler sported 21 million users and appears to have cleared the 22 million mark in real-time. The net-net of it all is that Parler has about 55% of the presence of Twitter already. That’s even more impressive when you consider Twitter was founded in 2006 and Parler’s only been around since 2018. In fact, it’s possible we could see history begin to repeat itself in the social space. Just as Facebook effectively put an end to MySpace. It’s possible we’re on the precipice of something similar with Twitter and Parler.
The purpose of social platforms is to communicate with others. When a company is bent on treating half of its users differently based on political preferences, I can’t imagine it’s a strategy built for long term success. And again, it’s not just about whether a user is banned from Twitter or not. As Project Veritas illustrated over three years ago, the reach of users who lean right is often minimized through a practice known as “shadow banning” - algorithms which minimize the reach of posts made by those who lean right with their postings and followers.
So yeah, Parler’s reach is already at least half of Twitter’s in the US. Plus, the big tech effort to deplatform the social network and silence the speech of its users has turned Parler into more than just a platform. It’s now part of a movement. One I fully support and hope you will too.
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