‘Free speech’ social media app, Parler, gaining popularity

SPOKANE, Wash. — A social media app geared towards free speech without censorship is causing controversy. Parler said its app allows users to “speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being “deplatformed” for your views.”

Many posts have claimed voter fraud, conspiracy theories and that Joe Biden stole the election. However, there is no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election. One of the most popular hashtags on the app: #stopthesteal.

“I know a lot of people all over YouTube and whatnot and Twitter just saying stay away from Twitter,” said Phillip Mazurik, a Parler user that spoke to 4 News Now. “They’re kinda going crazy with their censorship, so people just kinda want to feel open and free to say what they want to say and not feel like they’re going to be censored in any way.”

Facebook and Twitter have both been flagging posts, even deleting some spreading false information. Twitter updated its policy and said it may label tweets that violate policies against misleading information.

President Trump has had several flagged. Last week, Facebook banned a group called “Stop the Steal.” Supporters of President Trump used it to organize protests against the ballot count, some even calling for violence. Many falsely claimed Democrats are “stealing” the election from Republicans.

“Once people see something as flagged, they’ll all of a sudden assume it’s false or just assume it’s completely true,” Mazurik explained. “Everyone’s kinda in their own echo chamber with how that works.”

Mazurik signed up three months ago and believes having a platform like Parler has its pros and cons.

“I like to kinda see what people put out there and kinda do my own fact checking rather than just having someone say that something is blatantly false whether or not it really is or not,” he said.

Parler doesn’t censor many people or posts, leaving the door open for misinformation and disinformation.

According to the company’s guidelines, it says content will not be removed or filtered on the basis of an opinion expressed. It says it will take down content by terrorists organizations or if a post contains child pornography or violates their copyright.

“Parler will not knowingly allow itself to be used as a tool for crime, civil torts, or other unlawful acts,” the guidelines read. “We will remove reported member content that a reasonable and objective observer would believe constitutes or evidences such activity.”

Not everything on the app is political. 4 News Now scrolled through posts on Wednesday. Some advertised nude pictures. The hashtags attached to those posts were politically motivated.

Mazurik said he thinks there should be consequences for people who post false information, but not by censoring them.

“I don’t see it as a necessarily as a one-sided app,” he said. “I just see it more as an open platform, so if it can lead to more open discussion I can see it as a positive.”

The app is topping both Apple and Android’s app stores. 4 News Now reached out to the company for an interview, but no response was received.

RELATED: False claims of voting fraud thrive on ‘free speech’ app Parler

READ: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers supports Trump’s recounts, lawsuits