The dark political campaign money that was funneled through Parler

Parler’s link to WinRed

A post on Parler, called a Parley, can have one or more links attached to it. Parler recorded the number of times each post was viewed, so I was able to visualize a breakdown of the most popular external domains.

External domains weighted by number of impressions on posts that linked to them.
External domains weighted by number of comments on posts that linked to them.
  • The campaign of Devin Nunes spent $1400 to advertise on Parler in mid-August. This is a drop in the bucket for the Nunes campaign, which raised over $26 million dollars.
  • The Stop Socialism Now super PAC began advertising on Parler on November 9th, a few days after the US presidential election was called in favor of Joe Biden. On the 9th, they paid Parler $1000 in advertising fees. The following day they paid another $6000, and then another $8000 by the end of the week. The following week they paid $20,000 for advertising on Parler, spending a total of $41,075 in the month of November, all of it after the election.
The Stop Socialism Now super PAC is shown in blue. The contributions of this PAC were dwindled by that of the political campaign of Marjorie Taylor Greene.
  • The largest and most bizarre source of advertising income for Parler during the 2020 election came from the campaign of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who spent $211,000 in less than one month. Greene had a guaranteed victory in her race for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which leans heavily right. Greene’s campaign spent $4500 advertising on Parler over the week leading up to November 3rd, then proceeded to spend a whopping $206,500 over the remainder of the month, including a single payment of over $50,000. Her total spending on Parler represents around 10% of the total funds raised by her campaign, and 83% of the total reported political expenditure on Parler for the 2020 election cycle.
Parler took in $253,475 from political campaigns, nearly all of it after after the final vote was cast in the 2020 US elections. 83% came from the Greene campaign, 16% from a super PAC, and less than 1% from Devin Nunes.

What was Greene advertising?

Probably not her own campaign, considering she had already won in a landslide against an opponent who effectively withdrew from the race. Greene is rarely the subject of Parler posts that have boosted engagement (i.e. a higher than usual impression-to-comment ratio), and is hardly ever mentioned by Parler users. I cannot say anything with absolute certainty since the full archive of Parler is not yet ready, but I find it highly unlikely my crawler would miss Greene’s political advertisements but catch all the others.

Isn’t this a campaign finance violation?

The only way several of the sponsored advertisements on Parler in November could have been financed is by the campaign of Marjorie Taylor Greene. There is no other way for a Parley to organically reach millions of users unless promoted by a popular user like Sean Hannity or “echoed” by users, neither of which seems likely in this situation.

Greene has already become famous for her rambunctious statements after only a week in Congress.

The super PAC also seems shady

The Stop Socialism Now super PAC is funded by a handful of donors contributing $500 — $5000, and one big-money donor who lives within Greene’s congressional district contributing $125,000 (see the FEC filing).

When this super PAC dispenses funds to Parler, they do it in the exact same vague way that the Greene campaign does.
You can’t make this shit up.

What’s next

I was planning to make part 2 about the misinformation sites that are widely shared on Parler. However, within minutes of starting my analysis on external links, I noticed the strange distribution of links to winred.com, which led me to look up FEC filings, which led me to learn everything I possibly could about Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene is a known QAnon supporter, and months of scraping Parler has left me with a pretty good understanding of how their crazy theories work. You pull one thread here, another thread there, and pretty soon you are making a nonsensical argument for how Bill Gates started the coronavirus. I am legitimately worried I might be doing the same thing, seeing patterns where none exist. I will hopefully have more to write on this when two FOIA requests get back to me.

Most of the COVID disinformation that circulated on Parler is hosted on Youtube, owned by Google.

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a data scientist

a data scientist

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