Will Parler Spread Misinformation – or Just Segregate It Onto a Single App?

“The rising popularity of alternative social media app Parler is raising concerns over the spread of misinformation and potential for radicalizing users on a platform that’s taken a hands-off approach to regulating content,” reports The Hill’s reporter on technology policy: The app has been boosted by conservatives, surging since Election Day, as Republicans amp up allegations of anti-conservative bias from social media giants like Twitter and Facebook that have clamped down on pro-Trump election misinformation. Experts warn that a total lack of content moderation could prove harmful beyond creating political echo chambers and further spreading conspiracy theories. “Anytime you take a laissez faire approach to moderation — you say, ‘anything goes’ right up until actual threats of real world violence — that creates a huge space for some really problematic things to happen,” said Bret Schafer, a fellow focusing on disinformation at the Alliance for Securing Democracy….

For those who have abandoned Twitter and Facebook in favor of Parler, it could create a new dynamic on the mainstream social media platforms. “The idea that these people are leaving those platforms and no longer trying to red pill individuals to see their conspiracy theories on large platforms like Facebook and Twitter, I think that’s a good thing,” said Jason Blazakis, director of the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute. He added that the shift to Parler could mean fewer people on Facebook and Twitter are “exposed to these ideas,” and “migrating to more obscure platforms” may ultimately result in a smaller audience for misinformation….

Unchecked content also risks exploitation of misinformation by foreign actors, much like it did on U.S. social media platforms in 2016, said Saif Shahin, an assistant professor at American University’s School of Communications. But he said Parler’s success underscores that misinformation in the U.S. is now fundamentally a domestic problem.

“We have people in this country divided so sharply along partisan lines that they actively are seeking what we consider to be disinformation, but what they consider just one type of information,” Shahin said. “It is a domestic problem, a social problem, within American society.”

Long-time Slashdot reader shilly also shared a thread on Twitter from entrepreneur/activist Dave Troy (currently a TedX organizer) raising questions about Parler’s funding, and asserting that “a preliminary analysis of the first several thousand accounts on Parler shows that it is the usual Russia-aligned operatives that we in this space have tracked for years. This is a large-scale op aligned with Russian interests.”

Within hours Russia’s state-controlled media outlet “Russia Today” had published an article calling Troy an “unhinged conspiracy theorist.”