Parler Is Not Plagued by Pornography, Says 'Free Speech' App Executive

An executive at social network Parler has defended the website's approach to handling adult content uploaded by users, pushing back against claims that its lax moderation policies could damage the platform in the long-term.

Jeffrey Wernick, chief operating officer at Parler, wrote in an opinion article published by the Washington Times on Monday that his website actually takes "more substantive measures" against pornography than its direct competitor, referencing Twitter.

An investigation into adult material, published by The Washington Post on December 2, detailed a surge in pictures of topless women and links to porn websites and noted the content could "complicate" the platform's ability to attract advertisers.

The newspaper's reporting noted that unlike Facebook and Twitter, Parler is reliant on volunteers to remove content flagged by its users and does not use the same algorithms to scour its network for illegal material, including child abuse images.

The Post reported adult content played without warning labels, its community guidelines that once banned porn had been updated to allow it, and that explicit posts had spiked as the app surged to the top of the download charts in November.

As previously reported by Newsweek, the app was heavily promoted by a variety of U.S. conservative personalities who claimed they were censored on mainstream social media platforms or had taken issue with the moderation of President Donald Trump.

Wernick wrote in his op-ed that while Parler does not welcome or promote pornogaphic posts, it now allows porn showing consenting adults—sometimes labeled with warnings—because the approach is more in keeping with a "free speech" foundation.

The Parler executive said the site had a "dedicated jury pool of Parler members' that act similar to that of a neighborhood watch" to flag and report illicit material and criticised The Post's reporting for not focusing more on the amount of adult posts on Twitter.

"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," he wrote, noting that some porn accounts on Twitter have amassed large followings.

Twitter has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.

According to Wernick, Parler members are able to restrict any NSFW [not safe for work] content while signing up for a profile, stopping such posts from appearing on a feed. And he claimed internal metrics suggest many users have chosen to use it.

"Recent aggregated data of Parler members finds that less than 1 percent 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," the chief operating officer said.

The executive's op-ed was praised by Parler's CEO John Matze Monday, who accused "fake news media activists" of creating their stories rather than reporting news.

Parler
This illustration picture shows social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty