Tory MPs joined right-wing ‘free speech’ platform Parler – report

Tom Batchelor
·2 min read
The logo of the social media platform Parler (AP)
The logo of the social media platform Parler (AP)

More than a dozen Tory MPs including Cabinet ministers have joined Parler, the banned social media network favoured by Trump supporters and right-wing activists, according to a report.

The platform, which was launched in August 2018 and markets itself as an alternative to Twitter, reportedly has accounts linked to Michael Gove, the Cabinet office minister, James Cleverly, the foreign office minister, and Nadine Dorries, the health minister, among others.

The Observer, which first reported the story, said at least 14 Tory MPs were on the platform but there was no evidence any of them had posted content that could be considered inappropriate or far-right.

Milo Comerford, senior policy manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, told the newspaper that platforms like Parler were attracting “a motley crew of ultra-libertarians, violent extremists and conspiracy theorists, as well as more mainstream ‘free speech fundamentalists’”.

A number of MPs allegedly joined the app last summer when protests against racial inequality were sweeping the world. At the time, Donald Trump became embroiled in a free speech row with Twitter which saw the site remove a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd due to a copyright claim, leading the US president to accuse the social media giant of censorship.

The Independent has previously reported that Conservative MPs Ben Bradley, Angela Richardson and Steve Baker were understood to have created accounts on the app.

Parler was suspended by service provider Amazon last week amid claims the platform was used to incite the storming of the US Capitol.

The app’s lawyer, David Groesbeck, said “millions of law-abiding Americans have had their voices silenced” and claimed there was “no evidence, other than some anecdotal press references, that Parler was involved in inciting the riots”.

Apple and Google also removed Parler, which claimed more than 12 million users before it was taken offline, from their app stores after last week's unrest.

The Independent contacted Mr Gove, Ms Dorries and Mr Cleverly for comment.

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