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Parler, TikTok, OnlyFans contend for Facebook’s social throne


In the aftermath of the election, millions of users rushed to sign up for Parler, an up-and-coming social media app that has quickly become a hub for conservatives seeking refuge from what they believe is censorship from Facebook and Twitter. Those companies have labeled or hidden posts from President Trump and others disputing the results of the 2020 presidential election.

This rush of sign ups launched Parler into the top spot on Apple’s App Store list of free apps earlier this week. The surge is reminiscent of other social media upstarts that tried to exploit key markets where Facebook was lacking, like Snapchat among teens or TikTok for short-form video.

Taking on Facebook is no small task, and many apps have failed in this endeavor. Facebook counts more than 3 billion monthly users across its numerous services, including Instagram and WhatsApp. No other social media platform is even close. Additionally, the company has fended off many would-be challengers, often by copying their key features and using them to keep users from leaving.

But newcomers keep trying. Here are four to watch:

TikTok

Parler

Discord

OnlyFans

OnlyFans is the only one of these social media threats that does not actually offer a mobile app. That’s because OnlyFans has become the go-to spot for users to sell original adult content, which Apple bans from the App Store.

Despite not having an app, OnlyFans has grown tremendously in the last year. It was mentioned in a rap verse by Beyonce earlier this year, and TikTok and Instagram users frequently post links directing their followers to their OnlyFans accounts. 

OnlyFans hasn’t said how many monthly active users it has, but the app has 75 million total users and 1 million creators, which is up from 30 million users and 450,000 creators in May. 

Although OnlyFans is known primarily for being used to subscribe to and purchase adult content, there are some who use the app to sell subscriptions and post non-pornographic content. If OnlyFans continues to wrack up users, it could become the de facto spot for users who want a paid social media experience free of ads. 

OnlyFans poses is a unique challenge. Facebook has banned porn on its services throughout its history, and it would not be allowed to have an iOS app if it suddenly decided to change its policies. By going the adult content route, OnlyFans has seemingly built itself a moat that prevents Facebook from copycatting its services the way it has with Snapchat and TikTok.



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