Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unsocial Media by Calvin Robbins

Unsocial Media by Calvin Robbins

Enter for a chance to win one of 100 copies of Unsocial Media: Breaking Free from the Shackles of Social Media by Calvin Robbins!

Giveaway ends December 20, 2020.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter Giveaway

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Key Insights into the Rise of Parler

Key Insights into the Rise of Parler

Over the past decade, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become something of a political minefield. It’s never been easier for users to share their opinions with friends, family and even strangers – creating a great deal of tension during the recent U.S. election cycle in particular.

Enter Parler, a relatively new social media site. French for “to speak” and based in Henderson, Nevada, Parler has a rising active user base of roughly 4 million people. It’s attracted a mostly conservative following since it was founded in 2018.

What does Parler look like? This article will offer an objective take on what has arguably turned into social media’s most controversial new platform.

Many users have left Twitter and Facebook for Parler.

In an effort to prevent the spread of false or non-factually-based information, Facebook and Twitter have been adding warning labels to claims that the 2020 United States election was stolen from Donald Trump.

As a result, many conservative commentators have expressed that these sites are biased – and that the alleged fact-checking is being done with a liberal agenda. This has led to waves of users deactivating their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and joining Parler.

Parler actually looks quite a bit like an amalgamation of existing social sites. Create an account, and you’ll be directed to an extensive list of potential users and hashtags to follow. Users can post up to 1,000 characters, much like Twitter, and “echo” (the equivalent of retweeting or sharing) others’ content.

Now one of the top apps in the News category of the Apple App Store, Parler has welcomed users who eschew competing sites that investigate people’s political claims. This brings us to our next point.

Parler markets itself as a “free speech” platform.

With the motto Principles put into action, our way, Parler touts itself as a platform different from any other – one that operates without bias.

According to the site’s company policy, “Parler is the solution to problems that have surfaced in recent years due to changes in Big Tech policy influenced by various special-interest groups.” The site, its founders explain, exists on a “foundation of respect” for:

  1. Privacy and personal data
  2. Free speech and free markers
  3. Ethical and transparent corporate policy

Though its internal processes aren’t entirely clear, the site states that with the exception of spam and obvious criminal activity, it will not fact-check or moderate content. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, users can easily post unverified claims or opinions without the content being flagged.

This has culminated in a spike in conservative support on Parler, especially in the days after Joe Biden was announced the winner of the U.S. presidential election. In this way, the site is a blogging platform rather than a news source, emphasizing the value of free speech over fact.

Parler is polarizing – but it doesn’t promote hate speech.

There’s no defending hate speech, but it’s important to note the difference between allowing free speech and encouraging hate.

No doubt it’s easy, on Parler, to find radical conservatism in just a few clicks. From Holocaust denialism to QAnon, the platform isn’t entirely free from hate speech. And while this isn’t inherently good, it does align with the site’s marked focus on freedom of expression.

Ultimately, it’s worth noting that only a fraction of Parler users post content others would likely deem offensive. Though controversial, the site’s focus is on free speech rather than hate speech. The idea is to avoid censorship altogether, which has become quite polarizing in itself. Though there are exceptions, some might argue that most users are simply trying to find their voice.

Do you have insights, questions or comments on the rise of free speech platform Parler? Please contact me for more information – or subscribe to stay up-to-date on all things Unsocial Media.

The Influence of Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Influence of Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic

2020 has been a year of significant change – and social media usage is no exception.

As we adjust the way we live, work and interact, we’ve also pivoted the way we use social platforms. Here are several insights experts have uncovered involving the influence of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Social media usage has increased overall.

A GlobalWebIndex survey revealed a 10.5% increase in social media usage from July 2019 to July 2020 – indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us increasingly tethered to our devices.

46% of women and 41% of men reported spending more time on social platforms during the pandemic than they did previously. This can be attributed to the overwhelming increase in remote work and e-learning, and the collective uncertainty linked to the public health crisis.

Users are turning to new platforms.

With the pandemic has come a surge in the use of new platforms altogether – in large part because people are looking to be comforted and entertained. While Instagram is far from obsolete, 113 million users downloaded TikTok in February 2020 alone.

The app – previously considered a space for Gen-Z dance videos – now boasts a highly-engaged user-base of all ages. Today TikTok is the top-rated entertainment app on the iOS App Store.

Utilitarian services like Zoom and Google Classroom are more widespread.

Corporate meetings are now taking place online. Classrooms are gathering virtually. And as a result, many social services are prioritising function and security above the dopamine rush of “likes” and comments.

This is because, in addition to searching for comfort and entertainment, users are prioritising social platforms that allow them to easily work and learn from home. The use of utilitarian sites like Zoom and Google Classroom has skyrocketed in 2020.

Social media has become a critical source of information.

Where’s there’s information, there’s also misinformation. According to a recent PEW Research Center report, about half of social media users in the U.S. (and many others across the globe) have seen fabricated news about the pandemic online.

Yet users continue to search for COVID-19 news and updates on social media, scouring sites for the latest information. To acknowledge this, platforms like Microsoft, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter are doing their due diligence to combat fraud. (Still, only trusted sources of information can be taken at face value – and even these must be fact-checked.)

Authenticity has become more attractive.

Trapped at home, people are desperate to connect with others – and they’re eager to engage with one another on a deeper level. This means that content creators must be authentic above all else.

Gone are the days of superficiality above connection. Influencer travel and fitness posts, for instance, have increasingly been replaced by users sharing their deepest concerns and fears, expressing their political beliefs and striving to cultivate a sense of community in the midst of all the chaos.

Companies are acknowledging COVID-19 in their marketing.

The pandemic has given brands a platform to reassure their customers on social media. From putting a positive spin on an otherwise fearful time, to developing a socially-responsible marketing plan, many companies are in fact taking time to reflect and acknowledge what is happening in the world today.

Admittedly, brands must prioritise ensuring the safety of their team members and staff above all else. At the same time, however, they can leverage their social platforms to address the pandemic and reach their audience in new and innovative ways.

Do you have questions or comments about social media usage during the COVID-19 pandemic? Please contact me for more information – or subscribe to stay up-to-date on all things Unsocial Media.

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