- - Monday, December 7, 2020

In the Dec. 3, edition of The Washington Post, the newspaper attempted to misrepresent Parler and its position on pornography.

The reporters used half quotes and half facts to attempt to make the ideological points that they wanted to make rather then tell the full and accurate story.

First, let me state for the record, as I have done many times before, that Parler does not welcome, nor promote any type of pornographic (child or adult) imagery, video content or pornographic marketed goods on our platform.

Our platform’s foundation is built upon two core ideas: privacy and freedom. Parler is a paradigm shift for the future of social media, and as evidenced by slanderous articles such as these, mainstream media outlets are scared.

When presented with an opportunity to moderate and curate their own content, safely control their data and openly engage with others, the mainstream media repeatedly steps out of the light and retreats back into their cave to write inaccurate and damaging articles against us.

In the article by reporters Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell and Rachel Lerman, they state the following regarding our competitor, Twitter:

“Twitter generally allows them so long as they show the images or actions of consenting adults. Parler once banned all pornography but in recent months revised its terms of service to permit essentially anything that’s legal, making its policy close to Twitter’s, if slightly more permissive. Twitter, however, also has automated systems that prevent excessively rapid posting, as well as other spammy behavior, and employs human moderators to enforce its policies.”

Clearly, we were and remain so concerned about pornography on our platform that we took steps to curtail its growth. In recent months, we recognized that in keeping with the free speech foundation of Parler, the best course of action would be to allow legal pornography between consenting adults on the platform, and to provide labels that would alert our members of the content within.

In response to the first wave of inaccurate accusations of the proliferation of pornography on Parler, we took immediate action. We established a dedicated jury pool of Parler members’ that act similar to that of a neighborhood watch, flagging and reporting on posts that violate our terms of service, so that we can quickly and efficiently pull down the posts and monitor those profiles for future violations.

The Washington Post briefly touches on Twitter’s own policies but does not delve any further — a testament to their shoddy journalism and biased reporting. If they had done their due diligence, they would have also found the massive proliferation of pornography on Twitter.

Upon conducting a quick, one click search of Twitter, one of the top pornography profiles has over 1.7 million followers to date, with 156,900 posts; the latest post as of 18 minutes ago from writing this opinion piece shows explicit sexual acts, that again at this time of writing, has received close to 350k views. Unlike the tweets of President Trump and other GOP political leaders that have almost instantaneously been taken down, Twitter allows these posts to remain on their site.

Parler members, upon signing up for a profile, have the option to toggle a button that will restrict “NSFW” content from appearing on their chronological Parler feed. Recent aggregated data of Parler members finds that less than 1% of the close to 12 million members of the Parler community have actively chosen to be exposed to sensitive content, reinforcing the widely held sentiments of those active within Parler’s public square: pornography is not welcome.

And before you raise a point regarding sharing the aggregate data of Parler members, no, this does not violate our members’ data privacy. Of those parleys in question sent to us by The Washington Post team prior to this article, the impressions accounted for less than one-tenth of 1% of the total impressions averaged on all of Parler in one day. We offered the same Post reporters the opportunity to join Parler and act as members of the jury pool, allowing them to see for themselves the moderation tools, and they declined.

In turn we ask, why is this not being reported on by The Washington Post? Why does Parler continue to be branded as a platform that welcomes pornography, when in reality we take more substantive measures against it than our direct competitor?

The answer is clear. For those at The Washington Post, when it comes to a platform representative of everything they attempt to quash on a regular basis, i.e. free speech, the right to privacy and free thought, it is easier to define things by exception, and not the rule. People who would never get a second glance for the content they post on Twitter and Facebook are being vilified by the media for joining Parler — because their ideas deviate from that of the media dominating left.

When I spoke with the journalists conducting this hit piece, I was informed that Henry Farid, who contributes his opinion within, has created a type of software that would enable platforms like Parler to quickly identify and filter out child pornography.

As stated in the article; “The image-detection technology that Farid, the UC-Berkeley computer scientist, helped develop allows social media sites to find images of child sexual exploitation, also known as child pornography, so they can be removed before being viewed by users or human moderators.”

I inquired into his contact information, and the journalists at The Washington Post refused to provide it; a hypocritical move on their part that further emphasized their true motives behind the piece. If they truly wanted to curtail the harmful spread of child pornography on the Internet, they should have been willing to provide me with the tools they had readily available. I contacted him directly, asking how we would be able to work together with him to incorporate his software on Parler.

To date, I have yet to receive a response. Really, the bottom line is The Post does not like having its peer to communication (Twitter) competed with, especially by a social media platform that advocates free speech.  

• Jeffrey Wernick is the chief operating officer at Parler. 

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