Toxic talk: Agents’ use of social media app Parler stirs concerns

first_imgTagsResidential Brokerage While Parler doesn’t officially brand itself as a platform for conservatives, newcomers to the app in November were welcomed by automated messages from Trump’s re-election campaign and former Rep. Ron Paul’s accounts. The platform is bankrolled by Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of conservative megadonor Robert Mercer.One of Parler’s selling points is that it doesn’t moderate discussions, but instead relies on users to police each other. An account is deleted when it garners up to 20 “violation points,” which are determined by “a jury of your peers, not employees of Parler.” The app notes that sharing pornography, threats of violence or illegal activites are “contributing factors.”But Segal is concerned that Parler users will not recognize and report extremist views. Much of the content that brings together extremists and moderates on Parler is centered around Trump and his claim that the election results were illegitimate.Since the election, Parler has been used by far right activists and Trump supporters to jointly organize and participate in rallies such as the Million MAGA March and, most recently, the Proud Boys’ march. The overlap creates an opportunity for extremists to gain a larger audience among moderates over a shared cause without those users necessarily recognizing the extreme views a group may stand for, Segal explained.“That’s ultimately the danger, when we don’t even know how to recognize the extremists in our midst,” said Segal. “Parler doesn’t seem to be trying to address that.”Pennington said he doesn’t feel any more likely to run into extremist content on Parler than other platforms. “The same could be said about Instagram or Facebook,” he said.Extremism and hate speech on major social media platforms have been rampant for years. But Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have increasingly cracked down on extremism, hate speech and disinformation on their platforms.Despite his concerns, Segal stressed that Parler is far from becoming like the app Gab or the website Stormfront. Gab gained notoriety in 2018 for being where the shooter at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue posted anti-Semitic rants and conspiracy theories before his deadly rampage.  And a Klan leader founded Stormfront, which is considered the first major hate site on the internet.“There are a lot of non-extremist users on Parler right now,” Segal said, adding that “it’s not always cut and dry the motivation behind someone who wants to be there.”The bottom lineSeveral agents say they aren’t too concerned about a stigma being associated with the platform.Christina Winters-Ronk, who owns her own firm in Oregon, joined Parler in February because she liked its commitment to free speech.“If somebody were going to judge me based on having a social media account like Parler, I don’t know that I need them as a client.”Christina Winters-Ronk, Realtor“That finger-pointing of hate is absolutely in the wrong direction,” she said, noting that she’s seen more inappropriate behavior and trolling on TikTok than Parler.Winters-Ronk’s Parler posts are mostly personal, though she occasionally posts videos and photos of properties she’s selling.For instance, she documented a recent trip she took to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Million MAGA March. In one photo she posted over the summer, she poses in a Trump hat next to a client’s poster for former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.Winters-Ronk said the photo was taken after she and her client realized they were on opposite sides of the political fence. She said posting a photo like that in jest was something she appreciated about Parler.“Is it a social media platform that I feel like I could post something like that without backlash? Yes, absolutely,” she said. “Do I feel like that would be something censored on another site? Probably.”“If somebody were going to judge me based on having a social media account like Parler, I don’t know that I need them as a client,” she added.But while having a Parler account isn’t an endorsement of extremism and hate speech, some homebuyers and sellers may not care to make that distinction.“It’s really hard to say you’re going to use it like any other social media platform,” said Jennifer White Karp, managing editor of Brick Underground, a consumer-focused real estate site based in New York. “I mean, you’re known by the company you keep.”“I think one of the big concerns is that people [using Parler] could be more steeped in this ideology and become more indoctrinated, and it could affect how they work,” she added.The industry’s largest trade group is increasing its effort to police agents’ behavior on social media. Last month, the National Association of Realtors broadened its Code of Ethics to cover not just a Realtor’s conduct while on the job, but in all manner of public life, including social media.So far, NAR hasn’t fielded any complaints about agents’ conduct on Parler. But a spokesperson for the association noted that “the fact that Parler doesn’t impose such limitations on discriminatory speech doesn’t mean the Code doesn’t.”Segal said how Parler deals with extremist users in the future will determine whether being associated with the platform will carry more of a stigma.“In six months, we’ll see just how connected this platform is to extremism,” he said. “Then there won’t be any excuses.”Contact Erin Hudson Correction due to editing error: Stormfront, not Gab, was founded by a Klan leader and is considered the first major hate site on the internet. Email Address* Full Name* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Message* Some real estate agents have begun using social media app Parler, where experts worry they’ll bump shoulders with far-right extremists. (Illustration by Paul Dilakian)A few weeks after the election, Steve Martin Smith, a Florida-based RE/MAX broker, used his public Parler account to amplify a post by the far-right extremist group Proud Boys. The all-male, self-described “chauvinist” organization was promoting a march for President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C.Thousands attended the Dec. 12 event, including anti-Trump protesters, and the demonstration devolved into violence. Four stabbings were reported in connection with the march, and Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio said he participated in the burning of a “Black Lives Matter” banner pulled from a historic Black church.Why Martin Smith promoted the Proud Boys’ post is unclear. He declined to be interviewed and switched his Parler account to private after being contacted by The Real Deal. Still, the agent, who has a weekly real estate podcast, is among millions of Americans drawn to Parler as the “premier free speech social network.” The platform has become popular among conservatives as an alternative to Twitter, which had begun fact-checking tweets by Trump and other Republican figures.“It’s really hard to say you’re going to use it like any other social media platform. You’re known by the company you keep.”Jennifer White Karp, Brick UndergroundBut Martin Smith’s behavior on Parler illustrates a pattern on the app that concerns those who study extremism.“Do [users like Martin Smith] think that event is legitimate because of Parler’s claim that it’s for conservatives, or do they actually support the Proud Boys?” asked Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.Segal worries that Parler’s anti-censorship stance could allow extremist users to behave without limitations. For example, Proud Boys has been banned from Twitter since 2018 and from Facebook since June, but the group’s Parler account has more than 270,000 followers.While that’s a red flag for an expert like Segal, it’s unclear if the real estate agents using Parler are aware of the controversy it has caused or its use by extremists. This could have unintended consequences for their real estate business, experts warn, particularly as the industry begins to crack down on agents’ online conduct. Parler did not respond to a request for comment.“For some people who reject extremism and hate, to know that their real estate broker is advertising on a site that has extremists may call into question their judgment,” said Segal. “Whether that’s fair or not.”Here to parleyParler users who self-identify as agents are affiliated with a range of brokerages, among them Coldwell Banker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, RE/MAX and eXp Realty.Some say they say were drawn to the app after feeling alienated by mainstream social media like Twitter and Facebook. They’re not alone.Parler, founded in 2018, became the most-downloaded app in the days after the 2020 presidential election. Many Trump supporters, including actress Kirstie Alley and former UFC fighter Tito Ortiz, recently adopted the platform, beckoning their millions of followers to join them. Other celebrities, including radio host and musician John Tesh, also jumped to Parler.Phil Pennington, a Realtor based in Gibson, Arizona, created his Parler account after seeing people in his network on Facebook and Instagram make the move.He said he believed in the idea of a social media platform “that is just a free exchange of community ideas without the comments that seem to be so divisive,” and was hopeful Parler might live up to that.Other alternative platforms to see user bases grow this year include MeWe and Rumble. Parler functions a lot like Twitter, with 1,000-character posts known as “Parleys” and an “echo” function that amplifies other users’ posts. To see public conversations playing out in the app, users must sign up for an account and select whom to follow.Read moreNAR amends code of ethics to ban public hate speechCorcoran axes broker who cursed at woman planting Biden signsIncidents at Nooklyn and Core outrage Black agents, staff Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

Gypsy Jazz up next at the UBS Atrium Series

first_imgWEEHAWKEN — Finnish guitarist Olli Soikkeli and French accordionist Julien Labro have joined forces to create a new take on traditional Gypsy Jazz. Their fresh approach to this iconic music has delighted audiences from Alaska to Bangalore.The Olli Soikkeli and Julien Labro Quartet will be featured next at The UBS Atrium Series on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 12:30 p.m. in the Atrium, 1000 Harbor Boulevard, in the Lincoln Harbor section of Weehawken.Olli picked up the guitar at age 12. He soon discovered the music of the legendary French guitarist, Django Reinhardt and since then has made Reinhardt’s music his main focus. After developing his talents at jazz clubs and festivals in his native land, he started playing across Europe with top musicians and moved to New York City in 2014. He has played marquis venues such as Birdland, The Blue Note, and Lincoln Center. Despite his young age he’s already played with stars such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Stochelo Rosenberg, Andreas Öberg, Cyrille Aimee, and Anat Cohen. The Wall Street Journal gave Soikkeli high praise when it said that his talents “place him among the worthiest current day successors to the legacy of the great Django.”Born in France, Julien Labro has established himself as one of the top accordion, accordina, and bandoneón players in the classical and jazz genres. After graduating from the Marseille Conservatory of Music, Labro began winning international competitions but moved to the U.S. for further studies.He has shared the stage and/or recorded with a myriad of eclectic artists including João Donato, Cassandra Wilson, Miguel Zenón, James Carter and Tommy Emmanuel to name a few.Julien has played for audiences throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He has also been enlisted as an arranger and/or soloist by the Spektral Quartet, Curtis On Tour, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and many more.The quartet is rounded out by rhythm guitarist Max O’Rourke and bassist Eduardo Belo.The concert is free and open to the general public. For directions and more information, please check the HRPAC website – – or call the concert hotline at (201) 716-4540. The Olli Soikkeli and Julien Labro Quartet will be featured next at The UBS Atrium Series on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 12:30 p.m. in the Atrium, 1000 Harbor Boulevard, in the Lincoln Harbor section of Weehawken. ×The Olli Soikkeli and Julien Labro Quartet will be featured next at The UBS Atrium Series on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 12:30 p.m. in the Atrium, 1000 Harbor Boulevard, in the Lincoln Harbor section of Weehawken.last_img read more

Henson: Badgers not falling for non-AQ trap

first_imgSmall non-automatic qualifier vs. big BCS power.A dominant defense vs. an offensive juggernaut.David vs. Goliath.It’s bowl season, and that means the over-simplified clich?s are back.And it’s the 2011 Rose Bowl that provides a mouth-watering matchup for media folk and fans alike. The belittled, overshadowed, yet unbeaten Horned Frogs take on the traditional Big Ten champion Badgers.TCU has been tabbed as the representative of all the unheralded non-AQ schools, while Wisconsin carries the almighty Big Ten flag into Pasadena.But much like last year, when everyone tried to make UW’s meeting with the Miami Hurricanes in the Champs Sports Bowl an age-old battle of size versus speed (which was just plain senseless), the characterizations of these two Rose Bowl participants once again have their flaws.The common perception is that schools outside the major conferences are inherently weaker, even though BCS programs in the ACC and Big East haven’t looked much better. But believing this TCU team should be an underdog solely due to their less-respected conference affiliation is just plain foolish. And let’s be honest, Wisconsin hasn’t exactly been a powerhouse program over the last decade. This is UW’s first BCS bowl game appearance in 11 years.Now the Horned Frogs won’t be a non-AQ team for long. TCU is joining the Big East after the 2011 season. So this non-AQ label will last for just one more year, and once the switch to the Big East is made, TCU will almost assuredly become the favorite to win the conference title.But make no mistake about it; Gary Patterson’s Mountain West-champion team isn’t lucky to be here. They aren’t a charming Cinderella story that’s defied the odds. They are loaded with talent and have earned their impressive No.3 ranking.TCU’s Jake Kirkpatrick just won the Rimington Award given to the nation’s top center. Tejay Johnson was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s top defensive back. Defensive end Wayne Daniels is a first-team All-American, and you ever hear of that guy LaDainian Tomlinson? Yeah, he’s a TCU alum.TCU recruits from a deep Texas talent pool, and they continuously churn out top-flight athletes. There are no gimmicks or crazy formations that have led to their success.They are good, balanced football team, and UW center Pete Konz is well aware.“This is the No.1 ranked defense; they are undefeated. They are a team that’s lost one game in the last two years, and that was to a really good Boise State team,” Konz said. “They aren’t supposed to be as good because they are from the Mountain West? Whatever, some people might want us to fall into that trap but please, we know.”Konz and his fellow offensive linemen have garnered a ton of attention heading into this matchup. Everyone wants to know if the potent Wisconsin running game can produce against the stingy TCU defense.The Badgers have put up gaudy rushing statistics all season, and they possess arguably the top offensive line in the nation. Onlookers are always obsessed with the UW O-line’s massive size and that’s led many to assume that Wisconsin will easily maul a smaller TCU front.Senior guard John Moffitt knows it isn’t that simple. “That’s a trap. Good D-lineman are good D-lineman,” Moffitt said. “I mean we are a big O-line, and ever since I’ve been here we’ve gotten that comparison. People love that for some reason. But they are the No.1 defense in the country, so if you let yourself think for some reason that you’re going to push them around because you’re bigger, then that’s a big mistake.”When you actually take a look at the depth chart, TCU’s defensive line isn’t even that small. Both defensive tackles weigh over 300 pounds and the starting defensive ends are 250 and 260 pounds respectively.The Badgers may be one of the best teams in the country when it comes to running the football, but the Horned Frogs are particularly good at stopping it. We all know TCU plays a much weaker schedule, but allowing less than 90 yards per game on the ground is pretty darn impressive.Wisconsin could very well control the game on the ground behind that offensive line and three-headed monster in the backfield, but if that’s the case it will be because of their talent and skill, not their size advantage.TCU has seen big offensive lines before. Patterson’s program has played in plenty of big games against prestigious opponents (TCU is the last team to beat Oklahoma in Norman).The Horned Frogs may not be the traditional power that a Pac-10 school normally provides in the Rose Bowl, but this team will give the Badgers all they can handle.So while the non-AQ teams continue to duke it out with voters each year to gain respect, the Badgers already understand and acknowledge the challenge that lies ahead because Wisconsin has just as much to prove in Pasadena.And that’s the kind of mindset they’ll need to grab their 12th win of the year.Max is a senior majoring in journalism. Think the Badgers are going to dominate TCU at the Rose Bowl? Let him know at [email protected] or tweet @maxhenson.last_img read more

Corcoran: Season defined by more than Final Four loss

first_imgARLINGTON, Texas — When a relationship comes to an end, it can be tough to see the positives in the situation. When Wisconsin’s season ended Saturday night, it felt much the same way. But even with all the negative emotions, plenty of positives still surround the Badgers’ season and return to the Final Four, even though it might be hard to conjure them up right now.As I watched students around me at AT&T Stadium Saturday night after the final buzzer sounded on Wisconsin’s season, most of their faces were clad with looks of disbelief, disappointment and, in many cases, just sheer heartbreak, mirroring the Badger players on the court.After coming back from a second half deficit, Wisconsin led by two with only 16 seconds left to go in the game, and it was hard to think that the Badgers could lose the game. Then the rising hope was shot down with Aaron Harrison’s three-point dagger, and for just the eighth time this season the Badgers were faced with the task of dealing with a loss, only this time that loss carried with it a finality of a season’s conclusion and the end of three players’ careers.I was fortunate enough to experience the game as a fan along with several hundred other UW students, and I can only imagine what it was like to be in the players’ shoes and endure such a gut-wrenching loss. Even as just a bystander, the loss felt a lot like getting broken up with after a long, successful relationship. In the hours following the game, I went through a myriad of emotions and it’s safe to say I’ve gone through the five stages of mourning.Reality can be hard to accept and regardless of whether I’ve reached that point yet, what’s worth accepting is that this season wasn’t just any ordinary season in Wisconsin’s terms — or in any team’s for that matter. Maybe that’s why the emotions have been so much stronger this time.For starters, the obvious is that Wisconsin made it all the way to the Final Four for the first time under Bo Ryan and for just the second time in school history. If you told a Badger fan 25 or 30 years ago that Wisconsin basketball team was in the Final Four, he or she would have probably laughed in your face. Wisconsin was just plain bad at basketball for quite a long time. Besides hockey, before our generation came about, Badger athletics were nowhere even close to the level of success that have been experienced as of late.To say that we’ve been spoiled would be putting it lightly. The senior class of the UW student body has witnessed three Rose Bowls and a Final Four, a success only rivaled by the senior class of 2000, which was treated to back-to-back Rose Bowl victories and the 2000 Final Four that ended just as this one did.I won’t belabor the point of how we’ve been spoiled, but the fact remains that the success of the basketball program, especially under Ryan, would have been unprecedented 30 years ago. The success has been so moving that a close friend of mine’s father, who has owned season tickets dating back to the un-glory days of Wisconsin basketball, became teary eyed last weekend — something my friend hadn’t seen before — after the Badgers had secured a spot in the Final Four.Remember, it took Wisconsin 47 years just to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament when it finally broke the almost half-century drought by going to the Big Dance in 1994. For those loyal, lifelong fans who suffered through those arduous unsuccessful years, going to the Final Four is the crowning achievement of Badger basketball fandom.Beating Kentucky and going to the National Championship would have been much more desirable, but for those of us who weren’t alive when a Final Four was just a dream, making such a deep run in the tournament is hardly an end result to sulk about.Outside of the historical context of what this season and tournament run mean in the grand scheme of things, this season in and of itself was something special. Wisconsin finished the season with an overall record of 30-8, which is the third time in school history the Badgers have made it to the 30 win plateau. Along the way, Wisconsin reeled off 16-straight wins to set the school record for most victories in a row.There were team efforts in the 30 wins, and there were also some impressive individual efforts during the season.Frank Kaminsky, who’s become better known as Frank the Tank, went unconscious against North Dakota when he went off for a career-high 43 points. Then, just last weekend, Kaminsky had a 28 point, 11 rebound performance in the Elite Eight matchup with Arizona to carry Wisconsin to the Final Four.But it wasn’t just Kaminsky this season and it wasn’t just any one player who was the storyline for Wisconsin. In one game, it was one player or one set of players and in another game a different player or group stepped to the forefront. At a time in college basketball when players are playing to become the highest pick in the upcoming NBA draft, Wisconsin played as a team. In a team sport, you wouldn’t think it’d be rare to see teamwork and a group of guys coming together as one for the greater good, but the Badgers became an exception to what has become more and more of an individual-focused game.At the same time, Wisconsin became more personable to all of us. We saw a side of Ryan many people might not have thought existed. It almost felt like we became part of one big family watching as the team came together throughout the year.All the pieces just seemed to fall into place this year. The pieces meshing together didn’t result in a National Championship, but is that all that matters?As I left AT&T Stadium Saturday night feeling empty inside, a fellow student turned to me and told me to enjoy the moment because it doesn’t happen often. A season with so much success doesn’t happen often, but even rarer is having a team, and not just a group of individuals, like this.The season might be over and the direct relationship may have ended as well, but the memories from this season will last much longer and mean a lot more than wins and losses.last_img read more