Parler may be dead, but Parler users live on at MeWe and Gab

Since Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, tech has gregariously been undermining their methods of communicating. Trump and many of his followers were unceremoniously ditched from various platforms like Twitter. Parler has recently become the most well known ‘Free Speech’ app which attracted many Trump supporters.

Last week, Google and Apple removed Parler from their App Store, following the same line that they had taken with Gab in 2018. However, Gab retained an online web presence and created a web app. Enter Amazon. Unlike Gab, which is hosted on custom servers, Parler was hosted on AWS, so Amazon chose to pull Parler’s plug at midnight (PST) on Sunday Jan 10.

The news of upcoming actions to thwart the Parler platform was widely reported and Parler’s message boards were teeming with comments about alternative platforms where Trump supporters could go to communicate with each other online.

chart showing daily users of various apps since October 2020. Parler has had record users in the last 2 days before it was closed down.

Embee’s representative opted-in panel of mobile users allows us to see how app activity changed through to Parler’s final Sunday.

  • Parler saw a flurry of users, maybe extracting information or finding out what to do next, or venting frustration that their meeting area was being terminated.
  • MeWe and Gab appear to have received a large number of users. Collectively, we were seeing around 0.4% of the panel were using Parler before Jan 6, and on Sunday, MeWe at 0.26% and Gab at 0.33% incidences from close to zero appear to have picked up the drop.
  • Telegram has been cited by some as a place where Trump supporters could meet, largely because Telegram was notorious as the place where ISIS planned some attacks. However, we see no evidence of changes of usage in Telegram following the Presidential Election or after Jan 6 which would indicate a limited presence by Trump supporters.

Embee collects data every day on tens of thousands of US adults, with processing completed by 5am each day. Data is available retrospectively, allowing us to look back into the history of app usage for even small incidence activities like Trump supporters. Embee previously issued a report about Parler usage just prior to, and after, 2020’s U.S. Presidential Election. The full report can be downloaded here.