Parler, the ‘free speech’ microblogging app favoured by supporters of ex-US-President Donald Trump, has returned after a month offline.
The platform was taken down in the aftermath of the January 6th Capitol attack, when Parler faced scrutiny over how it was used to coordinate the attack. This subsequently led to the removal of Parler by app stores and Amazon Web Services, which hosted the service.
Parler’s return comes over two weeks later than its initial planned comeback – in late January, the company’s former CEO John Matze said the website would be restored by the end of the month.
The microblog made a limited return in January with a single homepage with a handful of messages.
However, on January 29th, Matze was removed from his position and was replaced by interim boss Mark Meckler, a founder of the Tea Party Patriots movement.
The website was brought back in January with assistance from hosting company Epik, which hosts far-right websites such as 8chan, and DDos Guard, a Russia-linked cybersecurity company. The company has said that it is no longer being hosted by big tech companies and is instead built on “sustainable, independent technology”.
Parler is now “here to stay”, the company said.
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“We will thrive as the premier social-media platform dedicated to free speech, privacy, and civil dialogue,” Meckler said.
However, the rollout of the app has been staggered and not all users able to use the platform immediately. In addition, users have said that their old posts are missing from their profiles.
The company is focusing on bringing the platform back for existing users before allowing new users to sign up in a week. Parler has claimed it currently has around 20 million users.
Currently, anyone who wants to download the app on an Android phone needs to bypass the Google Play Store. Apple users looking to install or reinstall the app are being told it is not currently available.
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Parler entered the public consciousness in the aftermath of then Trump’s defeat in the US presidential election. His continued baseless claims of electoral fraud saw him deplatformed from Twitter. This led to many of his followers migrating to Parler, a ‘free-speech’ equivalent of Twitter that took a laxer approach to censoring right-wing voices.
In addition, huge amounts of data from the platform were accessed and archived by hackers to be used as evidence against the perpetrators of the Capitol attack, many of which livestream or blogged their actions.
Reports have come to light claiming that the Trump Organization negotiated to make Parler the primary platform for then-President Trump. However, that came with the condition that the Trump Organization take a stake in the platform.
While the deal was never formalised, legal experts have warned that this could have breached anti-bribery laws.