Over the next four years, the biggest story will not be Joe Biden’s presidency, Russia, or China — it will be Big Tech’s power, influence, and biases. Big Tech leaders Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter dictate entertainment, corporate America and, increasingly, the knowledge of Americans. Readers and viewers can know only what they have access to, and Big Tech now decides what they see and view online.
Decision-makers residing in Silicon Valley have taken a clear, leftward political interest that’s beyond the ones in Hollywood and sports. As a result, a number of independent minds have created accounts on Parler, a free-speech alternative to Twitter and Facebook. Among them is Dan Bongino, who is a part-owner of the social media platform.
Of late, Parler has seen spikes in downloads, despite most commentators and politicians using it as a complement to, not a substitution for, Twitter and Facebook. That will soon change with Mark Levin. In a matter of hours, Levin will leave Facebook for Parler, and he’s encouraging his followers to move with him.
Over 4.2 million of you are following me on Parler now. It can’t be that hard to sign on. I hope the rest of you folks will join us. In a matter of hours I’ll be leaving corrupt Facebook, and you should too. I’ll also remain on Twitter for now, as it has not censored my posts. I guess I’m one of the few. But I’m not confident it won’t happen. We shall see. But do join us here at Parler.
— Mark Levin Marklevinshow Tuesday, December 29, 2020
The follower count is key. Levin has 4.2 million followers on Parler, which is more than his 2.8 million on Twitter or 1.6 million on Facebook. While Twitter and Facebook have more accounts, Parler’s users are highly engaged and responsive. To figures like Levin, engagement and monetization are of much greater importance than the raw number of accounts a platform reaches.
Levin’s decision to migrate to Parler is perhaps Parler’s biggest endorsement yet. Levin’s radio show is among the top five most listened to broadcasts nationwide. He has a strong digital following with his radio show’s podcast and digital show on The Blaze. He also hosts a Sunday night show on Fox News — Life, Liberty, and Levin — which often leads cable news that day. His reach spreads across all forms of media.
Should President Donald Trump eventually join or move to Parler, the platform will no longer be ignored by the news outlets that cover Trump’s every word, and Trump’s news-making persona will not change once he leaves the White House.
Parler may also be Trump’s best option to continue headline domination, a quest explained in Bill O’Reilly’s book The United States of Trump. The president’s future on Twitter is precarious at best. Twitter has said that, once Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, he will be subject to different Twitter rules.
A domino effect could soon be underway, and it will likely extend beyond Parler. Rumble, the Parler-like alternative to YouTube, is quickly gaining traction. Several top conservative hosts use YouTube to air their podcasts, including Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino (who also airs his show on Rumble, where he’s a part-owner), and Steven Crowder. YouTube isn’t going away, but hosts who feel censored on YouTube can quickly redirect viewers by promoting Rumble links instead.
Recently, Newsmax TV, The First TV, and OANN added their alternative brands to Rumble’s distribution.
Personalities with followings have learned they no longer need networks to survive. Individuals like Mark Levin are their own brand. They may even determine soon that they don’t need to rely on leading Big Tech platforms for distribution.