Parler: Research From A School Librarian and PreK-12 Educator

Appeal to Educators

Educators, if you are on or using Parler, I want to ask you to seriously reconsider your presence and participation there. In this post I will share with you the research I have regarding this site and the news sources who propagate links, stories, images, and more that are detrimental to our democracy and unity as a country.

Bias

Let’s talk about bias for a moment. Merriam-Webster defines bias as “an inclination of temperament or outlook, especially a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment or prejudice, an instance of such prejudice, a systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others.” 

Psychology Today explains that “Everyone has some degree of bias. It’s human nature to assign judgment based on first impressions. Also, most people have a lifetime of conditioning by schools, religious institutions, their families of origin, and the media. However, by reflecting critically on judgments and being aware of blind spots, individuals can avoid stereotyping and acting on harmful prejudice.” 

No person, journalist, or news source can be unbiased. As an educator, I teach my students this, and I encourage them to research and fact check all news sources. Bias alone rarely makes any source uncredible. What matters is that the user recognizes the bias and level of bias and fact checks the source material. Fact-checking and using facts, figures, and information that is accurate and reliable is the key piece to understanding how to rate the credibility of news sources and information we consume.

For instance, as a member of the LGBTQ community, I know I am biased toward sources and information that are accepting of my identity. Therefore, I enjoy reading from journalists who have a left bias and favorable view toward LGBTQ causes and positions. One news source I follow is Them. A Media Bias Fact Check states “Overall, we rate Them.us Left Biased based on story selection and editorial positions that routinely favor the left. We also rate them High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing and a clean fact check record.” So while this source adheres to my personal beliefs, I know that they have a good track record for factual reporting. If I were going to share an article or post from them, I would check the sources and information in that post myself prior to sharing it.

What is Parler?

Wikipedia describes Parler as “a United States-based microblogging and social networking service launched in August 2018. Parler has a significant user base of Trump supporters, conservatives, and Saudi nationalists. Posts on the website often contain far-right content, antisemitism, and conspiracy theories. The site has been described as an alternative to Twitter and is popular among people who have been banned from mainstream social networks or oppose their moderation policies. The site markets itself as a “free speech” and unbiased alternative to mainstream social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. However, journalists and users have criticized the service for content policies that are more restrictive than the company portrays, and sometimes more restrictive than those of its competitors. As of November 2020, the site had more than 4 million users.”

Normally I would not cite Wikipedia for academic and professional purposes, however this particular article I have sourced and the information comes from Reuters, The Forward, CNBC, and the New Statesman. All of these receive left or least biased ratings for high factual reporting.

My Parler Experience

I created an account on the app on November 8, 2020, after seeing friends, family, and Frisco ISD teachers sharing on social media that they had joined the platform and to follow them there. Based on my personal experience on the app following national, state, and local elected officials and Conservative Republican activists here in Frisco, Texas, I can assure you there is nothing unbiased about this social networking site. Users share memes, links, and articles from far-right conservative media news outlets promoting their content and encourage users to “echo” propaganda and conspiracy theories.

Questionable News Sources

It appears that Fox News has resisted Parler, however, I found an account that joined November 9, 2020, that appears to legitimately be Fox News. A Media Bias Fact Check said this about Fox News, “Overall, we rate Fox News strongly Right-Biased due to editorial positions and story selection that favors the right. We also rate them Mixed factually and borderline Questionable based on poor sourcing and the spreading of conspiracy theories that later must be retracted after being widely shared. Further, Fox News would be rated a Questionable source based on numerous failed fact checks by hosts and pundits, however, straight news reporting is generally reliable, therefore we rate them Mixed for factual reporting.

Below are some of the news organizations I have followed due to their popularity on the Parler app, being followed by people I know, and social media shares of their news links, and who represent me in local, state, and nationally elected positions. It should be noted that President Trump shares content on Twitter from FoxNews, Breitbart, and Washington Times among others. This is not an exhaustive list of news sources, just the ones I saw people on social media sharing and posting from and following. I have also included their ratings from Media Bias Fact Check.

  1. CNS News: CNS News is Questionable based on extreme right-wing bias, promotion of propaganda, and numerous failed fact checks. Reasoning: Extreme Right, Propaganda, Some Fake News
  2. Washington Times: Although the Washington Times has a very strong right editorial bias, they report straight news with a much lower bias. Therefore, we rate them Right-Center biased overall. We also rate them Questionable and factually mixed due to poor sourcing, holding editorial positions that are contrary to scientific consensus, and numerous failed fact checks. Reasoning: Numerous Failed Fact Checks, Poor Sourcing, Lack of Transparency
  3. One America News (OAN): Overall, we rate One America News Questionable based on far-right bias, lack of sourcing, promotion of conspiracy theories, and propaganda as well as numerous failed fact checks. OAN is not a credible news source. Reasoning: Far-Right Bias, Poor Sourcing, Conspiracy Theories, Propaganda, Failed Fact Checks
  4. NewsMax: Overall, we rate Newsmax Right Biased and Questionable based on the promotion of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience as well as numerous failed fact checks. Reasoning: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, Fake News, Failed Fact Checks
  5. Breitbart News: Overall, we rate Breitbart Questionable based on extreme right-wing bias, the publication of conspiracy theories and propaganda as well as numerous false claims. Reasoning: Extreme Right, Propaganda, Conspiracy, Failed Fact Checks

Moving Forward

As an educator, I defend and hold dear first amendment rights of all US citizens: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I firmly believe that everyone has a right to their beliefs and opinions, and I’m not asking you to change those.

In regards to the recent election, I believe in the process. I believe in a candidate’s right to legally challenge the process. What I am asking is that as educators you consider the danger a platform like Parler, and others, pose to our country and our democracy by dispelling rhetoric that can be viewed as hate speech and election fraud propaganda meant to dismantle the voting pillar of our democracy. Educators, please choose your news wisely and check articles before you share for bias and factual information that opposes our democratic independence and equality. We all need to be vigilant in upholding the values we all share like kindness, acceptance, decency, and love that make our country great.

*Educators for a Google Doc of this post click here.

Works Cited

“Bias. Definition of Bias by Merriam-Webster.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bias. Accessed 12 Nov. 2020.

“Bias”. Psychology Today, 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/bias. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“Them.Us – Media Bias/Fact Check”. Media Bias/Fact Check, 2020, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/them-us/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“Parler. Wikipedia.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parler. Accessed 12 Nov. 2020.

“Fox News – Media Bias/Fact Check”. Media Bias/Fact Check, 2020, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/fox-news/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“CNS News – Media Bias/Fact Check”. Media Bias/Fact Check, 2020, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/cns-news/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“Washington Times – Media Bias/Fact Check”. Media Bias/Fact Check, 2020, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/washington-times/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“One America News Network (OAN) – Media Bias/Fact Check”. Media Bias/Fact Check, 2020, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/one-america-news-network/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“Newsmax – Media Bias/Fact Check”. Media Bias/Fact Check, 2020, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/newsmax/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“Breitbart – Media Bias/ Fact Check”. Media Bias/ Fact Check, 2020, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/breitbart/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

“U.S. Constitution – First Amendment. Congress.Gov: Library Of Congress. Congress.Gov, 2020, https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/amendment-1/. Accessed 12 Nov 2020.

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