Jan 19, 2021 - Technology

Parler shows signs of life

Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Far-right-friendly social network Parler is beginning to resurface after going dark last week following a series of bans by Google, Apple and Amazon.

The big picture: By tapping service providers that are friendly to far-right sites, Parler — home to a great deal of pro-insurrection chatter before, during and after the Capitol siege — may have found a way to survive despite Big Tech's efforts to pull the plug.

Shortly after the bans, Parler switched its domain registration to Epik, a provider that has in the past revived other digital havens of the far right, including Gab, 8chan and neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer.

  • Observers noticed over the weekend that online records indicate that Parler is also relying on some level of infrastructure support from DDoS Guard, a Russian provider of web hosting and related services.

Driving the news: Over the weekend, Parler CEO John Matze posted to the site a message saying, "Hello world, is this thing on?"

  • Below Matze's post was a message from the company promising "to resolve any challenge before us and ... welcome all of you back soon."

Details: In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Matze said, "I’m confident that by the end of the month, we’ll be back up."

  • Matze said that despite the bans, no Parler employees have quit yet.
  • He also said that he was able to recover Parler's data from Amazon last week, and suggested he'll continue posting incremental updates about the site's status as the company rebuilds it.

Our thought bubble: The newfound reliance on a Russian firm for infrastructure support is sure to spin up conspiracy theories that the resurrected Parler is a Kremlin front.

Reality check: That's probably not the case.

  • But there are deeply serious security concerns raised by any site relying on Russian-owned servers.
  • And Parler running to Russia to come back online would be just the latest development in a growing clash of values between Silicon Valley and authoritarian regimes that have a vested interest in keeping disinformation and destabilizing rhetoric flowing in the U.S.

Catch up quick: Google and Apple delisted Parler from their app stores after the company failed to produce a plan for moderating harmful rhetoric.

  • Amazon's AWS unit then took down the whole back end of the Parler network, citing widespread violent rhetoric and a refusal or inability on the company's part to moderate it.
  • Parler subsequently sued Amazon, alleging breach of contract and antitrust abuses.

The catch: If Parler is in fact able to come fully back online in short order, that would undermine its claims that Amazon's shutdown demonstrates harmful monopolistic practices.

  • Still, it will likely remain dark on the Google and Apple app stores, limiting its reach, although users should be able to visit Parler on the web from any device if and when it comes back.

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