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Parler May Never Get Back Online, Admits CEO of Pro-Trump Social App

Todd Spangler
·2 min read

The CEO of Parler, which claimed it had more than 12 million users before it was cut off by Amazon, Apple and Google in the last week, said the social network popular among Trump sympathizers might not be able to find a new home on the internet.

Asked in an interview with Reuters when Parler may return, CEO John Matze said, “It could be never. We don’t know yet.”

Amazon’s AWS division pulled its hosting-services contract with Parler, which promoted itself to conservatives as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter or Facebook, on Sunday. In taking the action, Amazon cited nearly 100 examples of violent threats on Parler, which the ecommerce company said the social app had failed to remove. AWS’s disconnection of Parler came in the wake of the Jan. 6 violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, a shocking attack for which the president was impeached Wednesday for the second time.

Previously, Apple and Google banned Parler from their respective app stores, citing Parler’s inaction on policing violent and harmful content and the risk of contributing to further violence in the wake of the Capitol riot.

Matze told Reuters that Parler was in talks with other hosting services but he declined to name them, “citing the likelihood of harassment for the companies involved,” per the report. On Jan. 11 Parler’s domain name was transferred to Epik, a registrar favored by far-right groups that hosts Gab.com and the domain name for the Proud Boy’s former websites, Mashable reported.

Parler sued Amazon on Monday (complaint at this link), alleging breach of contract and violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act for supposedly colluding with Twitter in getting the app shut down. Parler is seeking a temporary restraining order to force AWS to reinstate its hosting contract and unspecified monetary damages. Amazon said the lawsuit had no merit and on Tuesday filed documents showing that it warned Parler in late 2020 about violent hate speech on the app.

“This case is not about suppressing speech or stifling viewpoints. It is not about a conspiracy to restrain trade,” Amazon said in a Jan. 12 court filing (at this link). “Instead, this case is about Parler’s demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of Amazon Web Services (‘AWS’) content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”

In addition to getting kicked off Apple and Google’s app stores and cut off by AWS, Parler has been banished by American Express and online-payment provider Stripe, according to Matze.

Founded in 2018, Parler boasted about its hands-off approach to moderation, in contrast to the stepped-up policing by mainstream social networks to eliminate misinformation and hate speech. The company is funded by hedge fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer.