A study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center shows alternative social media sites like Truth Social and Parler are playing a small but growing role in the overall news and information landscape.
In recent years, the information environment has been impacted by tensions between the news media and former President Donald Trump’s accusations of “fake news,” causing Republicans to grow more skeptical of their trust in mainstream news sources.
As many Americans rely on major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for information, these sites began imposing third-party fact-checkers to label misinformation and suspending accounts for posting threatening content.
When Trump’s accounts were permanently suspended following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, he created his own social media site, Truth Social, appealing to those who too felt censored by mainstream platforms and “cancel culture.”
Several other new social media options have also emerged and taken a similar approach, many of which explicitly present themselves as “welcoming havens for free speech.”
These newer sites have created a small but satisfied community of news consumers, many of whom say one of the major reasons they are there is to stay informed about current events, according to the Pew study.
The study included a survey of over 10,000 U.S. adults, along with an audit of seven alternative social media sites – BitChute, Gab, Gettr, Parler, Rumble, Telegram and Truth Social – and a detailed analysis of prominent accounts and content across them.
Although fewer than 1 in 10 respondents said they regularly use any of these seven sites to get their news, most of the 6% of Americans who do identify as Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party (66%), in contrast with the news consumers on more established social media sites, who largely identify as Democrats or lean Democratic.
Out of 200 accounts with the most followers per site, roughly half (54%) of their profiles appealed to some kind of value or political orientation.