Nationals MP and cover model George Christensen has announced his online migration to Parler, a social media app favoured by US right-wingers for its celebration of free speech – and its hands-off approach to censorship and fact-checking.
Taking to Facebook, a platform which has received its own share of criticism, Christensen said he was drawn by Parler’s avoidance of “jail time or sin bin” policies.
Since joining the app yesterday, the north Queensland MP has spruiked his newsletter, shared content big-upping US President Donald Trump, and highlighted some of Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s recent poll results.
Christensen joins a growing number of notable conservatives and alt-right agitators on the app. So far, so normal for Christensen, who once apologised for appearing on a neo-Nazi podcast.
But, as pointed out by online culture reporter Cameron Wilson, Christensen appears to follow a number of users who espouse the QAnon conspiracy theory – and at least one account which sports a white supremacist symbol.
This is where Parler gets a bit interesting. While Twitter recently introduced little ‘fact check’ alerts under suss messages about coronavirus and 5G, Parler promises much less interference with the ~discourse~.
Hate speech is also a grey area on the app. Speaking to Forbes, founder John Matze said the platform would only remove posts containing the N-word if users “got very upset as a result of that.”
That laissez faire handling of controversial content has reportedly caught the interest of Trump’s reelection campaign, whose war against Twitter intensified when the platform decided to point out “abusive behavior” and “manipulated media” in the President’s tweets this month.
We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.https://t.co/AcmW6O6d4t
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) June 23, 2020
Parler’s membership has grown to around 1.7 million users since its launch in 2018. That figure is still dwarfed by Twitter’s user numbers, and building new audiences on Parler will be a big ask. Maybe those big-time users will actually have to get themselves banned by Twitter first.
In any case, Christensen should expect some thought-provoking conversations on Parler. After all, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts joined this morning.
With censorship of conservatives on Twitter increasing, I have decided to add #ParlerApp to my social media platforms
— Malcolm Roberts 🇦🇺 (@MRobertsQLD) June 29, 2020