High-Profile Parler Accounts Threaten to 'Destroy the GOP' in Election Aftermath

Parler, known as the alternative social media platform of the conservative right, is hardly the platform you would expect to call for the GOP's "destruction." With tensions flaring after the presidential election and the Trump administration's subsequent legal battles, the influx of users wasn't unexpected, but the growing anti-Republican sentiment very well might have been.

The "free speech social network" has been flooded with increasing anti-GOP sentiment and calls to destroy the party from within. Far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos posted a promise to "burn the Republican Party to the ground" in early December, saying he was "dedicating the rest of his life to the destruction of the Republican Party."

Yiannopoulos went on to say that he "lost everything putting Trump in office" and that he felt "utterly betrayed," swearing "vengeance" to the tune of 700,000 shares and likes on the series of messages.

As legal battles surrounding the election results raged on, and so did discord within the Republican Party. Republicans like Senator Mitt Romney and former Ohio Governor John Kasich decried President Donald Trump's refusal to concede, while many others, such as the 126 signatories on a Texas lawsuit challenging the election, refused to back down. This intra-party fracturing soon began to show itself on Parler's feeds, as Trump loyalists expressed feelings of betrayal on behalf of the president.

Newsmax White House Correspondent Emerald Robinson said the GOP establishment "really wants Trump gone" and questioned its ability to survive, in a post viewed by 46,000 users.

Other accounts largely turned on specific members of the GOP, such as Trump ally Roger Stone, who asked in a post "where is Marco Rubio?" and claimed that Florida Republicans have asked him to run for the Senate. Though he later clarified this was a "joke," more than 2,000 users responded with encouragement.

Others turned on institutions that have traditionally been considered in line with Republican ideals, with multiple users referring to Fox News as "washed up" or "corrupt," including country music star Travis Tritt in a post that celebrated right-wing website Newsmax because it "smoked disgraced Fox News in the ratings." Over 11,000 posts are circulating the site under the hashtag "#Boycott Fox News."

Parler grew massively as many conservative voices began to decry "censorship" on mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Election week saw an explosion on the app, doubling the number of downloads from its original success boom in June and reaching the top at Apple's and Google's app stores. Parler CEO John Matze proudly announced in a November letter that the platform saw an influx of 4.5 million new accounts in a single week, as those disappointed by the election results sought a place to vent their frustrations.

However, dissatisfaction with the GOP seems to be carving its own spot out on the site. And Parler, according to app data tracker Apptopia, has experienced a significant downtick as the weeks have dragged on, performing in the bottom 6 percent below-market average in news users and the bottom 1 percent in engagement.

Correction (12/15/2020, 10:45 p.m.): An earlier version of this article cited a Parler post from Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balar. Diaz-Balar's team confirmed that he does not have a Parler account and did not make the post attributed to him. Newsweek regrets the error.

Parler social media app on phone
The Parler app and social network experienced a massive traffic boom during the 2020 election. OLIVIER DOULIER/AFP via Getty Images