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Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Parler, which calls itself a "viewpoint-neutral" social network and is growing popular among conservatives who feel mainstream social platforms are censoring them, is now topping the free app download charts, according to both Apple and Sensor Tower.

Why it matters: With Twitter and other mainstream social media apps more strictly enforcing rules against election-related falsehoods, more permissive, often right-leaning platforms have seen a surge of interest.

  • The app for Newsmax, a right-leaning news network, also began surging on the download charts after all the major networks, including Fox News, called the election for Biden.
  • It remains to be seen if the gains are more than temporary, but the shift has certainly raised eyebrows.

Context: Twitter has been far more aggressive in recent weeks against election-related misinformation, labeling tweets that falsely claimed victory or offered unsupported claims of election fraud.

  • Twitter also permanently banned an account tied to Steve Bannon after he encouraged the beheading of NIAID director Anthony Fauci and the head of the FBI.

Between the lines: Moving to an alternative platform is a mixed bag, offering newcomers looser rules but also, at least for now, a smaller audience more likely to be comprised of already like-minded individuals.

What they're saying: "People trust Parler because Parler trusts people. We welcome all to join our platform which emphasizes free speech and open discourse," Parler founder and CEO John Matze said in a statement.

Go deeper

Conservatives warn culture, political wars will worsen

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The verdict is clear: The vast majority of Republicans will stand firm with former President Trump. The next phase is clear, too: Republicans are rallying around a common grievance that big government, big media and big business are trying to shut them up, shut them out and shut them down. 

Why it matters: The post-Trump GOP, especially its most powerful media platforms, paint the new reality as an existential threat. This means political attacks are seen — or characterized — as assaults on their very being. 

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes "will soon be appropriate"

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Federal Reserve officials expect "it will soon be appropriate" to raise the central bank's main target interest rate, setting the stage for a rate hike at its next meeting in mid-March.

Driving the news: In a statement following a two-day meeting published Wednesday afternoon, however, the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee teed up its next move without taking new action.

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