Parler registered 7,029 new users per minute during the November election, say Stanford researchers
- Parler registered about 7,029 new users per minute during the November election, according to Stanford researchers.
- The researchers on Thursday published their findings about Parler's first 13 million users.
- Parler had about 802 moderators, according to the report.
Growth on Parler, an alternative social networking app, spiked during November's US presidential election, with the site adding about 7,029 new users per minute, according to a study from Stanford University.
"The account growth due to the US election was far and away the most dramatic, with Parler more than doubling its userbase within a number of weeks," wrote researchers at the Stanford Internet Observatory's Cyber Policy Center.
The researchers on Thursday published a report, "Contours and Controversies of Parler," analyzing the app's growth and users.
The researchers, David Thiel, Renée DiResta, Shelby Grossman, and Elena Cryst, said data scraped from Parler included information about how many moderators the app had, although some of the data was "slightly obscured."
—Stanford Internet Observatory (@stanfordio) January 28, 2021
In the wake of the January 6 Capitol siege, both Google and Apple removed Parler from their app stores, saying it hadn't done enough to moderate violent rhetoric. At the time, Apple said in a statement that "Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people's safety."
Amazon Web Services also removed the company from its hosting services, forcing it to go dark. Now, Amazon and Parler are locked in a legal battle.
At present, the app is still down and the website is a static page that the company updates with statements.
Earlier this month, US district court judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein denied Parler's request for a preliminary injunction against Amazon, in part because the company hadn't yet introduced a new model for its moderation.
"There is no debate, however, that forcing AWS to reinstate its services now, before such system can be implemented, would result in the continued posting of the kind of abusive, violent content that caused AWS to shut Parler down in the first place," wrote Rothstein in a January 21 court filing.
Stanford researchers on Thursday wrote that Parler had about 802 moderators covering posts from about 13 million users.
"Though Parler claimed in January to be hiring paid moderators, the overwhelming majority of moderators were still volunteers," according to Stanford.
When it was live, the company removed some content that broke its community guidelines, including posts by pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood.
But Stanford's researchers noted that Parler's moderation was reactive, meaning it primarily moderated content that had been reported by other users. The volunteer moderators had "no quotas or obligations to moderate," according to the research.
One of the authors, David Thiel, wrote on Twitter: "It turns out that a handful of volunteer, largely monolingual moderators doesn't work so well for containing extremism and disinfo, even if your standards are fairly loose."
Stanford also used data to uncover 21 Parler administrators, including some who "shared and amplified content that would have been removed from other platform."
According to researchers, Parler administrators posted content "denying COVID-19's existence and disputing public health countermeasures, asserting claims of voter fraud and a mass stolen election, and making threats to the law enforcement protecting politicians before and after the insurrection in the Capitol."
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