Parler: Is this Katie Hopkins’ new home for hatred?
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STEVE ANGLESEY explores the dark world of Parler and the hate parade led by Katie Hopkins.
The woman who once used her Sun column to compare migrants with cockroaches is continuing her classification of the bug world. Describing her relationship with her fans this week, Katie Hopkins said, 'I like to think of us as spiders on an invisible web and when you twang the thread we all feel it at the same time'.
Creepy, scary, occasionally poisonous, fond of hiding in dark corners and able to eat only after first vomiting digestive fluid over their meal-to-be – it all checks out for Katie and her arachnid barmy army. And the dark corner they now find themselves in is Parler.
Run from Nevada by 'libertarian engineer' John Matze Jr, Parler is a newish social platform which touts itself as 'unbiased' and promoting free speech. Despite having a name which means 'talk' in the language of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys – you're supposed to pronounce it that way too – it's now the favoured platform of the American right, with high-profile users including Donald Trump's son Eric and presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Yet for all his sound and fury over being fact-checked by Twitter, the big man himself has thus far stayed away. Perhaps this is because Parler boasts one million active users to Twitter's 330 million, and attempts to lure Trump to the upstart network can hardly have been helped by the fact that one of Parler's earliest adopters and keenest recruiters is Brad Parscale, who is being blamed for his botched organisation of the disastrous Tulsa rally last weekend.
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Hopkins says she is there because she believes in saying the unsayable, that 'there are no such things as opinions that are right and wrong; it's your opinion and you should stand by it'. She's also there, frankly, because she has recently received a whole life sentence of exclusion from Twitter for contravening their ban on 'hateful content'.
She, and Parler, hope the 1.1 million followers who lived for tweets like 'Dear Marcus Rashford, do you think women should think about how they are going to feed a child before they decide to have it?' will soon join her there as part of what they are billing as a '#Twexit' of right-wing Brits.
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Hopkins summoned her spiders to Parler with a video rallying call that was alternately self-pitying and defiant. 'My message is you are not on your own, she said. 'You can feel very lonely out there. Uninvited from things… we are the silenced majority and we are many and we stand stronger when we stand together.'
So what kind of stuff are the silenced majority producing in our new home? Though I had no more wish to take a deep dive into Parler than I had a deep dive into an empty swimming pool, I thought I'd take a shufty.
Could it really be worse than a scroll through Twitter, which on a bad day can be like walking through a tunnel of men spitting at one another?
Why yes – a journey into Parler feels like being dunked head-first in a vat of astringent urine.
Parler is to Twitter what the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks is to reality: Breathe in the engine oil, slip between the velvet curtain and you're in a bizzaro world where users post 'Parleys' rather than tweets and 'echo' rather than retweet. But it isn't long before you meet a host of grotesques and restless spirits talking backwards.
Over here are conspiracy theories about European church burnings, 'Obamagate', 'Pizzagate' and so on. Over here is a man who wants to arrest George Soros, and another who wants to whisper some theories about the Reading stabbings into your ears.
Have they met the man whose user profile includes the likes 'White and proud, say it loud'? He's over there by the dumpster full of hashtags - #DrainTheSwap, #BLMisajoke, and so on.
Meanwhile, Hopkins' most engaged-with post mocked a Labour Party meme, released on social networks on Fathers' Day, which showed a cartoon of a black child with her dad, who Spidermon and her followers thought might actually be female. Hopkins asked: 'What is that thing? Where is the father?' Her followers responded with a series of racist replies.
She may be comfortable here; but would even Trump associate himself with this sort of stuff, while the user base remains relatively low and the hate speech relatively high? What about Steve Baker, Ben Bradley and the other Tory MPs who have joined Parler in recent days? Is the chief whip happy for them to post among this unfiltered swill?
Parler styles itself as the social media platform 'Where agreement is not the precursor for debate'. Yet the vileness of so much of its content necessarily precludes debate because no-one seeking reasoned debate could possibly want to debate there. Who wants to have a thoughtful, sit-down discussion in a sewer?
The most curious thing about Parler, therefore, is that it is actually operating in exactly the fashion its keenest users profess to hate – an echo chamber where only the shrillest sounds reverberate into the void.
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