“Right-wing” social media platforms Truth Social and Parler saw a surge in web traffic over the past three months, as major competitor Twitter found it hard to keep its most active users, mainly due to issues of censorship.
The total number of people visiting Truth Social, a network founded by former U.S. president Donald Trump, rose 21% from 9 million to 10.9 million during the three months to November, according to data from digital intelligence firm Similarweb.
Parler, a platform popular with Republicans and other right-wing influencers and politicians like Ted Cruz, had 1.7 million total visitors in November, up more than 30% from 1.3 million visitors three months earlier, the data shows.
Telling it like it is: What is Parler?
Both Truth Social and Parler pride themselves as beacons of free speech. They were created primarily to rival Twitter – and also Facebook – which are accused of collusion with governments and of abusing their dominance to stifle freedom of speech.
Twitter and Facebook regularly ban users for what they call “misleading” posts. Twitter went as far as banning journalists who reported on owner Elon Musk’s whereabouts. Kanye West and Trump are two of the most prominent people banned from Twitter and Facebook, at the time of writing.
Founded by John Matze and Jared Thomson in 2018, Parler self-describes as a “non-biased, free speech social media focused on protecting user’s rights.” It claims to be the place “where free speech thrives.”
The app works just like Twitter, allowing users to share short messages, links, and photos with their followers. Users can comment on and upvote posts, known as “parleys.” They also have access to a range of topics including entertainment, politics and sport.
Parler has routinely trolled Twitter. On Dec. 14, the network used Twitter to throw shade at Twitter, tweeting:
“Leave Big Tech and be ‘uncancelable’ on Parler (sic),” it said. “Never shadowbanned, never will,” Parler shouted in yet another tweet, in reference to a practice by Twitter where it blocks an account in part, without actually banning it outright.
— Parler (@ParlerMedia) December 14, 2022
A user will never know their account has been shadow banned. At some point, Parler hit number one on the Apple App Store but was then deplatformed by Amazon, Apple, and Google.
“We have since rose from those ashes,” Parler said in a tweet. It is a fate Parler hopes noone will ever have to go though on its platform.
Parler’s limited global reach
Users who violate the guidelines can actually be removed from the app. The guidelines say posts that advance crime or unlawful acts, spam, terrorism-related content, or otherwise interfere with Parler’s “welcoming, non-partisan Public Square” can be banned.
This reporter tried to create an account on Parler but failed repeatedly at the password stage. The app denied access without giving a reason. It is possible the service is not available in Zimbabwe, where the writer is based. But the app also remains unavailable in many regions across the world, limiting Parler’s reach.
Data from Similarweb shows that 72% of the traffic to Parker comes from the U.S., 3% from the United Kingdom and 2% Ecuador. Mexico and Sweden account for 1.98% and 1.90% of the traffic, respectively. Other countries share the remaining 18.81% but none is from Africa.
The total number of people using Parler peaked at 2.3 million in October, but its popularity has been in decline ever since. Traffic slumped 27% to 1.7 million in November. Similarweb did not provide reasons for the decrease.
On average, people spend just 2.25 mins on Parler per visit. That compares with the 10.57 mins users spend on Twitter, and 4.44 mins on Truth Social. In November, a total of 6.8 billion visits were recorded at Twitter, down 2.54% from a month earlier, Similarweb found.
Kanye West pulls out of Parler deal
In October, Chicago rapper Kanye West, now known as Ye, was spotted channeling his crypto swag with a Satoshi Nakamoto cap. The fashion statement was made in an apparent jibe to JP Morgan Chase, who told the billionaire to find a new bank.
Ye had already been booted out of Twitter and Instagram for making statements considered anti-Jewish. The popular rapper tweeted he was “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” a post that was later removed by Twitter.
West has reveled in “the fashion of disappearance” lately. He is pulling up at public events with his face covered in a full-length mask and reversing the rules of fashion to exist outside the radar of accepted world.
More importantly, he had better existed outside of Big Tech. So West planned to buy Parler to help him “express how you feel. Express what’s tied up inside of you. Express what’s been haunting you,” he told Bloomberg.
“We’re using this as a net for the people who have been bullied by the thought police to come and speak their mind,” he added.
That deal has now fallen through. “Parlement Technologies would like to confirm that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler. This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November,” Parler said on Twitter.
Truth Social: America’s ‘Big Tent’
Like Kanye West, Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook in January 2021 for posting content that incited violence. A year later in February 2022, Trump launched Truth Social, a right-wing social network created to challenge the likes of Twitter.
Truth Social brands itself as “America’s ‘big tent’ social media platform.” The network claims that it “encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating on the basis of political ideology.”
In August, the app reached number 25 on Apple’s App Store rankings for social media apps. Truth Social has weathered reports of financial difficulty, regulatory issues and a ban from the Google Playstore, to continue to see impressive growth throughout 2022.
Google accused the platform of violating its policies against “content with physical threats and incitement to violence.” The ban was lifted in October after Truth Social agreed “to enforce policies against incitement.”
However, the application remains unavailable in several countries worldwide. We tried again to create an account on Truth Social but was denied access.
According to Similarweb, the most traffic to Truth Social comes from the U.S., which accounts for 81.80% of the total followed by Canada at 3.65%. The UK and Brazil account for 3.22% and 2.15%. Remainder is for rest of the world.
The total number of visitors to the site reached 10.9 million in November, up more than 36% from the previous month and 30% from three months earlier. Since September, the number of people using Truth Social rose by 1.9 million.