Burton Kelso, Tech Expert
Is It Worth it to Switch to ‘Free Speech’ and 'No Ads' Social Networks Like Parler and MeWe
People have been frustrated with social media sites tracking them and having their content censored for several years, but it has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. With big tech social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook using a 'pay to play' model and taking steps to remove false information and fake accounts have made people dump Facebook and Twitter and switch to MeWe and Parler, alternative social media platforms that don't have ads and don't censor posts. Before you make the switch to these alternative social media services, should probably check to make sure jumping ship to these platforms is really worth it.
One of the biggest challenges with social media your understanding of where free speech applies. My family and I became victims of 'doxing' because several individuals thought I was violating their freedom of speech because I was removing posts that were negative, false information, or bullying. According to the First Amendment to the US Constitution, "Congress shall make no law “…prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.” This only applies to the government, not to businesses. Just like a business can create rules of how you dress or act in their business including refusing service to you, social media companies can create rules that limit what you do and say when you're on their platforms. Also, since you probably didn't read the terms of service when you signed up for your account, you agreed to them being able to target advertisements to you and sell your data. I hope that cleared up some questions, now let's talk about these two social media platforms.
What is Parler, and how is it different from Twitter?
Parler is a social network founded by John Matze and Jared Thomson, two conservative programmers, in 2018. The site is named after the French word meaning “to speak,”. It has gained popularity with Republican groups in recent months. It functions just like Twitter with the exception that your Tweets are called "Parleys" and your retweets are called "echoes". You can even add your profile picture and have a banner for your account as well as sharing pictures and videos to your timeline. The big difference is the broad definition of acceptable content which leads to the idea that Parler allows 'freedom of speech'. There are certain things that aren't allowed on the site such as pornography, promoting drugs, and obscenity. Now don't think that you can't get banned or removed from Parler. Even with it's loose set of rules, you can get banned. With their open speech model, you can be assured to see conspiracy theory information, false information about COVID19, so you should probably fact check before you believe anything you see posted to the service.
What is MeWe and how is it different from Facebook?
MeWe is owned by a company called Sgrouples and is founded by internet entrepreneur Mark Weinstein in 2011. MeWe wasn’t founded as a social network for conservatives. It just became one based mainly on the surge of anti-vaccine people who left Facebook to share their views about not vaccinating people. MeWe doesn't promote itself as a conservative social media platform and you will actually find conservative and liberal people there. Just like Facebook, you can add your profile picture and banner on the site. You can also set up groups, and upload photos and videos. The big difference between MeWe and Facebook is the definition of acceptable content. Like Parler, there are certain things that aren't allowed on the site such as pornography, promoting drugs, and obscenity. Also like Parler, if you break the rules they can and will ban you.
Are Parler and MeWe actually worth using?
If you don't like to change when it comes to technology, you probably should stick with Twitter and Facebook. The user interface for Parler and MeWe are a little clunky and can be a little bit of an adjustment for you to get used to. Think about why you're considering changing. If you're tired of the ads, you can slow this process down by using 'incognito' or 'inprivate' mode in your browser. If you've had posts that have been banned, or you've been banned, remember that all social media accounts have rules and terms of service. There are people getting banned from Parler and MeWe. We tend to gravitate to a social media platform that aligns with our personal and political beliefs, so if Parler and WeMe align with your beliefs, give them a shot. If you do switch from big tech social media, you aren't going to have access to as big of a community of people or prominent celebrities.
There's no such thing as 'Freedom of Speech when it comes to social media companies. Always remember that when you're online.
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