A niche social network favored by right wing personalities and conservatives has accused Facebook of aiding a 2020 election “information blackout.”
The platform, overseen by Las Vegas-based John Matze Jr., has pitched itself as a free speech alternative to Twitter or Facebook, attracting high-profile users including Ted Cruz, Devin Nunes, Eric Trump, Katie Hopkins, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul.
The attack on Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant was published on Monday in an “election transparency pledge” uploaded to Parler’s anti-Facebook website.
“Zuckerberg and his technoauthoritarian pals have made their plans clear. They will impose de facto censorship and an information blackout in which only ‘approved’ information sources may be read, seen and heard,” read the letter, attributed to COO and Strategic Investor Jeffrey Wernick.
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“This plan is a recipe for disaster.”
The billionaire Facebook boss has spoken openly about his company’s approach to the 2020 presidential election, which comes after the previous 2016 vote was targeted by a vast misinformation campaign tied to trolls working on behalf of Russia.
On September 3, Zuckerberg announced a variety of tactics would now be put in place to help limit a repeat of that disaster, and help inform its billions of users.
The steps, outlined in a personal post, included a block on new “political and issue ads” throughout the final week of the campaigns, pushing more voting information put to the top of the Facebook and Instagram apps, and also using its Voting Information Center to “prepare people for the possibility that it may take a while to get official results.”
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Zuckerberg wrote: “Since the pandemic means that many of us will be voting by mail, and since some states may still be counting valid ballots after election day, many experts are predicting that we may not have a final result on election night.
“It’s important that we… understand that there could be a period of intense claims and counter-claims as the final results are counted. This could be a very heated period.”
In the post yesterday, Wernick suggested that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will use their “moderation powers as they see fit to impair the free flow of information.”
“By the time we finally do get official results—something Mark Zuckerberg is telling us we may not get for weeks—we could end up with a President-Elect the authority of whom roughly half of Americans won’t respect,” the letter said.
“That’s a recipe for instability, conflict, even violence. We at Parler have no influence over election strategies nor can we predict the future. What we do know is there will be a tremendous information deficit when Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter fire up their content-curation machines to halt the free flow of information.”
In terms of both size and usage, Parler pales in comparison to mainstream social media sites, and many users who joined still have accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Parler attracted many personalities who have been banned from other platforms.
As of July this year, Parler claimed to have 2.8 million users total after gaining roughly one million sign-ups in a week, The Washington Post reported. App data from Sensor Tower, obtained by Bloomberg, suggested new downloads were slowing.
For comparison, Facebook says it had nearly 1.8 billion average daily active users for June. Twitter’s average “monetizable daily active users” topped 186 million in Q2.
Facebook and Twitter have been contacted for comment by Newsweek.