How did Parler make a comeback? App banned over Capitol riots is no longer 'reliant on big tech for operations'

The relaunch comes over a month after Apple, Google and Amazon banned the service in the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol


                            How did Parler make a comeback? App banned over Capitol riots is no longer 'reliant on big tech for operations'
A general view of the Parler app displayed on an iPhone on January 9, 2021 (Getty Images)

Parler is back online. On Monday, February 15, Mark Meckler, interim CEO at Parler, announced that the website is officially relaunching its platform and it will no longer have to rely on “Big Tech” to operate. The relaunch comes after Apple, Google, and Amazon suspended service in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attacks on the US Capitol building, citing violent threats on the platform.

As per the statement, the platform has been rebuilt on "sustainable, independent technology and not reliant on so-called ‘Big Tech’ for its operations." Meckler, who previously co-founded the right-wing group Tea Party Patriots, said: “When Parler was taken offline in January by those who desire to silence tens of millions of Americans, our team came together, determined to keep our promise to our highly engaged community that we would return stronger than ever.”

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A general view of the Parler app displayed on an iPhone on January 9, 2021 in London, England. The Parler App popular with right-wing supporters has been suspended from Google's Play store over continued postings by users that incite violence. (Getty Images)

 

How is Parler back?

The Verge reported that Parler transferred its domain registration in January to Epik, which calls itself "the Swiss bank of the domain industry”. As per an NPR report, the company is run by Rob Monster, supports the conspiracy theory website InfoWars, the largely-unregulated YouTube alternative called BitChute, the gun forum AR15.com, and a site for Trump supporters called Patriots.win, previously known as The Donald.

Epik also has been linked to the Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. In 2019, Epik purchased the cybersecurity company BitMitigate, which had been providing service to the Daily Stormer. Monster said that when Epik realized this, the company ended its relationship with the site. "It's regrettable," Monster said. "The greatest cost of acquiring BitMitigate was not the amount of cash that we paid to buy the technology, but the entanglement."

Tea Party Patriots co-founder, National Coordinator Mark Meckler (R) gives a thumbs-up sign while standing next to his son Jacob, 14, as members of the Tea Party Patriots prepare to hold a rally on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Election Day November 2, 2010, in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

 

However, a new NPR report says SkySilk, a Web infrastructure company based outside of Los Angeles, is now hosting Parler. SkySilk's chief executive, Kevin Matossian, told NPR: "SkySilk is well aware that Parler has received an aggressive response from those who believe their platform has been used as a safe haven for some bad actors." 

Matossian further said, "Let me be clear, Skysilk does not advocate nor condone hate, rather, it advocates the right to private judgment and rejects the role of being the judge, jury, and executioner," adding that while the company may disagree with some of Parler's content, he believes the company is taking "necessary steps" to monitor its platform. "Once again, this is not a matter of SkySilk endorsing the message, but rather, the right of the messenger to deliver it. SkySilk will support Parler in their efforts to be a nonpartisan Public Square as we are convinced this is the only appropriate course of action.”

Smooth return? Not really

A general view of the Parler app icon displayed on an iPhone on January 9, 2021, in London, England. (Getty Images)

 

While Parler on Monday said it now has 20 million users, NPR reported that for Parler users, “the relaunch has anything but smooth,” adding that the website seemed to be operating at a “snail's pace for people accessing it by computer”. The site is also, as per the report, not accepting new users. On mobile phones, Parler does not seem to be working at all, said the report. 

The Verge said that while old Parler user accounts have been restored, old “parleys” (the site’s term for posts) are not yet available. The report added that Some high-profile users, like Fox News host Sean Hannity, have begun posting on the new site already. The timelines for other major accounts, like that of Tucker Carlson or Republican rep Devin Nunes, remain empty.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Former President Donald Trump, who is permanently barred from Twitter, is considering joining the site as “Person X.”

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