News & Politics

Parler Struggles Reach A Strange Turning Point

(Parler screenshot)

Parler, the struggling social network that serves as a more open alternative to Twitter, may launch again as early as Monday — according to one of its major investors.

In a Friday night interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino announced we may see the relaunch of Parler this week.

Parler was deplatformed on January 11 by Amazon Web Services, Google, and Apple shortly after the January 6 Capitol Hill riots. Big Tech masters and numerous Democrats have accused Parler of being a key organizing tool for extremists since the November election leading up to the January 6 incursion.

As the three highest-profile social media companies—YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter—continued to take action to mitigate the spread of extremism and disinformation, Parler welcomed the ensuing exodus of right-wing users. It exploded in popularity, doubling its members to 10 million during the month of November, and claimed 12 million at the time of its shutdown—although that’s still dwarfed by Twitter’s roughly 330 million monthly active users.

Parler immediately sued Amazon in attempts to regain its place on the AWS servers. In the suit, Parler claims Amazon violated their contract and is engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

The complaint asks a federal court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Amazon (AMZN) and calls Amazon Web Services’ decision a “death blow” to Parler.
“Without AWS, Parler is finished as it has no way to get online,” the complaint said. “And a delay of granting this TRO by even one day could also sound Parler’s death knell as President Trump and others move on to other platforms.”
Parler’s lawsuit argues that Amazon has unlawfully sought to restrain competition by eliminating a player from the market.
It also claims Amazon breached its contract with Parler by not providing Parler 30 days’ notice of termination — and that its actions interfere with Parler’s relationships with current and future users.

However, a Federal judge refused to issue an injunction against Amazon and Parler has remained dormant.  Bongino’s brief remarks to Hannity didn’t shed any light on how Parler would get around the lack of presence on the Amazon servers.

In a bizarre twist to the saga, former Parler CEO and founder John Matze publicly announced last Wednesday that the Parler board of directors fired him on January 29.

On Wednesday, John Matze, the CEO and founder of the “free speech” app Parler, which went dark last month, announced in an internal memo that he had been fired by the company’s board of directors, headed by right-wing donor Rebekah Mercer.

“On January 29, 2021, the Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler. I did not participate in this decision,” Matze wrote in the memo, which was first published by Fox Business.

Matze claimed that he was terminated as a result of a dispute over the app’s content moderation policies. “Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed,” Matze wrote, specifying that he advocated for, among other things, “what I believed was a more effective approach to content moderation.”

Parler has been very quiet about the reasons for Matze’s termination.  The only statement released by the company chastised Matze’s memo and public interviews about his firing, but gave no explanation for the termination itself.

Parler’s chief policy officer Amy Peikoff responded with this statement to USA TODAY: “Mr. Matze’s characterizations of the events and circumstances surrounding his termination from the Parler CEO position have been inaccurate and misleading.”

In a Facebook Live show last week, Dan Bongino seemed to take the Parler company line and suggested Matze wanted to cave to Amazon.

 “We were the ones in fact fighting to get Parler back up. There were some really bad decisions made by people on the inside. This isn’t airing dirty laundry, this is protecting a company that is absolutely committed to free speech,” he says. He claimed “the vision of the company as a free speech platform was mine and the two other owners.”

If Parler does relaunch this week, without its CEO and founder Matze, all eyes will be on the site’s moderation policies. Has Parler given in to Big Tech and be required to heavily censor like Twitter does, or has the social media platform found a way around the grip of Amazon & Co.?

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