Parler has been in the news and on headlines recently with its current suspension from the Apple Store and Amazon Web Services. Tech giants have censored the app due to users’ involvement in the capital protests, though protestors used multiple social media platforms to plan the storming of the US capital. With the ever-increasing surveillance and censorship of tech giants, more and more people are either turning off social media or looking for new ways to express themselves.
What is Parler?
Parler is a relatively new social media platform, which markets itself as being pro-free speech and an alternative to more mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Parler has generally lower restrictions on users’ content than other social media platforms, which other social media platforms will oftentimes ban people for posting what they consider conservative or far-right views. People may post with a wider range of viewpoints. In this sense, Parler is less biased than its counterparts.
History and Media Censorship
Parler was founded in August 2018 by John Matze Jr. and Jared Thompson in Henderson, Nevada. The site gets its name from the French word “parler” meaning “to speak”. By May 2019, Parler grew to around 100,000 users, around 40,000 of which were brought by Candace Owens, a conservative activist. The site attracted Republican personalities and those who had been banned from other social media platforms. Matze focused his marketing efforts on conservatives, due to the high percentage joining the service. This labeled the app conservative, though it was originally intended to be and still can be bipartisan.
Supporters of the Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman went by the thousands to Parler, after being banned from Twitter. Twitter labeled supporters of the Saudi government “inauthentic” and an “electronic army” pushing the Saudi Arabian government’s agenda. Twitter also flagged posts by Trump about mail-in ballots as “potentially misleading” and posts about the George Floyd protests as “glorifying violence”. English media personality Katie Hopkins was permanently suspended from Twitter after violating their policies on “hateful conduct”, and she later joined Parler. In response, thirteen members of Parliament joined, and some British conservative activists endorsed the site over Twitter. Because Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter, Parler became the top downloaded app on the Apple store on January 8.
A number of major political figures have joined Parler, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R), Ohio Representative Jim Jordan (R), New York Representative Elise Stefanik (R), and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, joined Parler, and a number of people from Brazil joined Parler.
Parler had become somewhat of a safe haven for people of right and far right views to express themselves. That is, before it was taken down.
Though the app has been taken down on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store, there is still hope for an online presence. After Amazon suspended Parler from its Web Services, Parler looked for a new service provider. Parler was denied by both major and minor cloud service providers. Parler registered its domain with Epik, which is known for allowing services to far-right web pages. The site was hosted by the Russian cloud services company DDos-Guard. So far, there is only a static page that says that it will come back, reaffirms its message, and has a link to a Fox interview with John Matze. Matze claims that their “return is inevitable due to hard work and persistence against all odds.” He also claims that “not one Parler employee has quit”. Matze also promised to have Parler back online by the end of the month.
Matze saw the website registration with Epik as a key signifier that Parler’s return is realistic. The website now also hits a working server, and a single piece of information is returned. Matze also saw it as a “big milestone” to be able to post updates on Parler and that he would “try to get an update out every day” so “people can stay up to date with the site”.With the site being mired in controversy, a person cannot google “Parler” and find the site. Instead, parler.com must be directly typed into the search bar at the top of the browsing window.
Parler Social Media App Potential
With the ever-increasing censorship on social media and fact-checking, Parler has the potential to become a major app. Its popularity on the Apple store after Trump’s Twitter ban and its listing as a top free app on Google Play prove this. Though many users are conservative, Parler is willing to host people of any view on its website- including conspiracy theorists and supporters of foreign governments. The key element is simply getting the website back online.
Written by: Miranda Smith