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GOP lawmakers join social media app billed as alternative to Big Tech

A group of Republican lawmakers and allies of President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE are joining Parler, a social media app that bills itself as an "unbiased" alternative to platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and urging their followers to do the same. 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus Democrats play defense, GOP goes on attack after Biden oil comments Quinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas MORE (R-Texas) became the latest prominent Republican to announce the move on Thursday, saying in a video shared on Twitter and YouTube that he was "proud" to join a platform that "gets what free speech is all about." 

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) and Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump pushing to declassify document disputing intel findings on Russia: report Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 Democrat Arballo gains on Nunes: internal poll MORE (R-Calif.) have also shared tweets about their move to Parler. In a tweet shared Wednesday, the same day a judge ruled Nunes could not sue Twitter over content posted by its users, the congressman described Twitter as "hell" and said, "Parler is open for business!"

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Trump campaign manager Brad ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE, Donald Trump Jr., Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpEric Trump shares manipulated photo of Ice Cube and 50 Cent in Trump hats Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Twitter removes Trump COVID advisor tweet that questioned use of masks MORE, Lara TrumpLara Lea TrumpDemocrats condemn Trump's rhetoric against Michigan governor as allies defend rally Sunday shows - Trump Michigan rally grabs the spotlight Lara Trump defends president's rhetoric after 'lock her up' chants about Whitmer at rally: 'He was having fun' MORE and Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Latest 'Borat' footage appears to show star at the White House, meeting Trump Jr. Kushner friend arrested on cyberstalking charges MORE are among the prominent conservatives that have joined the social network, according to The Hollywood Reporter

"Big Tech is out of control, filled with hubris and flagrantly silencing those with whom they disagree, from conservative media organizations to the president of the United States," Cruz said.

The move to the alternative platform comes as Republican lawmakers ramp up their attacks on major tech companies over alleged bias against conservatives.

Many in the GOP have seized on recent content moderation decisions made by Facebook and Twitter as evidence that they are trying to stifle speech by Trump and others in the party. Cruz and several Republicans also targeted Google last week over decisions it made related to a pair of right-wing news sites. 

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There's no evidence suggesting systemic anti-conservative bias among major tech companies.

Parler, which was launched in 2018, touts itself as "an unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement." The company says on its website that content appearing on the site is "moderated based off the FCC and the Supreme Court of the United States which enables free expression without violence and a lack of censorship."

The company's user base is a fraction of Twitter and Facebook's. Twitter has about 330 million monthly active users and Facebook has a global user base of more than 2 billion. In contrast, Parler's app has been downloaded an estimated 1 million times, Business Insider reported, citing data from Apptopia. 

Apptopia told Business Insider that the app had a record 40,000 downloads on Wednesday. 

"We are thrilled to see that support for Parler is growing and being utilized by anyone who seeks out and/or champions free and fair debate in a true public square,” Parler co-founder and Chief Executive John Matze told The Wall Street Journal.

“It is not Parler’s job to weigh in on political matters," he added. "We believe in free speech and fair elections. Period.”

It remains unclear if the moves to Parler are part of an effort to stop using the other social media platforms entirely. Many prominent Republicans and conservative media figures have massive followings on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which is owned by Google. Cruz, for example, has about 3.7 million followers on Twitter alone.