In the midst of its effort to drive censorship concerned users away from Twitter, the social media app Parler released its own “Declaration of Internet Independence.” While it reads like a bit of a gimmick at times, Parler calls it a “plan to return to the original vision of the internet.”
In late May, Parler kicked off its #Twexit campaign following a heated online conflict between Twitter and President Donald Trump. Twitter flagged and fact-checked Trump’s comments on the George Floyd civil rights protests in Minnesota – leading to Trump calling for the revoking of Section 230 for the social media platform. That revocation would mean Twitter loses its immunity from lawsuits if controversial material gets tweeted.
Founded in 2018, Parler claims more than 1 million users with a proclaimed commitment to free speech. The social media platform does not mine or sell user data and never censors content based on politics or ideology. Following its concerns over the Trump vs. Twitter incidents, Parler would also set its sights on another tech giant – Google – for allegedly violating its users’ privacy.
Parler’s #Twexit movement launched on May 28 and calls for disgruntled Twitter users to “vote with the feet” and leave the more powerful, ever-present platform.
Referring to Twitter’s sanctioning of Trump’s tweets as a form of “Technofascism,” the minds behind Parler laid out their published statement in two parts: A Declaration of Internet Independence and a Bill of Rights. As Parler’s announcement states, “The Declaration lays out the grievances with the censorship and data abuses of Big Tech Companies, while the Bill of Rights states the free and permission-less nature the internet must be allowed to enjoy for it to thrive.”
The Parler Declaration opens by mimicking the language of the original American document from which it takes its name — a technique that initially feels more like mockery than a serious technical or political statement: “When in the Course of technological development, it becomes necessary for free people to reject the Terms of Service which have connected them with a platform, and to take back their Constitutional and Human rights, our great American traditions call on us to declare the causes which impel the separation.”
From there, the statement lays out Parler’s case against Twitter: “The Technofascists pretend their Orwellian pursuit of ‘truth’ is in our best interests, and the greater good. But the Tyrants are no better than Elsworth Toohey (the villain of Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead), compelling The People to abandon our principles as they seek to grow their power.”
After a call for more users to join the #Twexit movement, the Declaration moves into its Bill of Rights: “The Internet was created to be a place of endless promise, made possible by ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, not through compulsion, coercion, or force…It was to be a place of true equality where identity provides no privilege.”
Making the case that the tech giants failed to provide such an environment, Parler and its users turned to their declaration to make clear their desire to break away from traditional social media. Meanwhile, the resulting stir serves as good advertising for a small social media platform looking to grow in controversial times.
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