Right-wing social media site Parler has disappeared from the web and vanished from the Apple and Google app stores after tech giants cut ties with the platform in the wake of the deadly mob attack at the US Capitol.
Parler went offline shortly after 3am EST after Amazon booted the platform off its web hosting service, effectively shutting it down until it can find a new hosting partner.
Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter – which permanently suspended the president on Friday – the site is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday’s riot.
Parler, which some of the rioters had used to help plan the insurrection, was the most-downloaded app in the Apple store on Friday before both Apple and Google cut off its access to their app stores.
CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that ‘we will likely be down longer than expected’ as tech firms distance themselves from the ‘free speech’ site.
‘Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well,’ said Matze, who has labeled the Big Tech moves to isolate his app ‘absolutely disgusting’.
‘Parler is my final stand on the Internet. I won’t be making an account on any social. Parler is my home,’ he said.
Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter, Parler is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday’s attack at the Capitol
Shortly after 3am EST, Parler disappeared from the web with an error message saying ‘we can’t connect to the server’ after Amazon pulled the plug
The app was removed from the Google app store after conservative social media users flocked to the site in the wake of the Capitol attack
Republican congressman Devin Nunes, who had an account on Parler, raged at what he said was ‘political censorship’ after Apple and Google removed the app.
‘Spread the word so your fellow Americans know about this,’ he urged his three million followers on the site.
Right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro warned on Twitter that ‘the tech bros are making a horrible and dangerous moment significantly more horrible and dangerous’.
‘There are no consistent standards being applied. There is reactionary deplatforming in the name of one side,’ he claimed.
‘Everyone on the right is correctly concerned that these same companies are five minutes away from simply removing the ability of conservatives to host content anywhere.’
The social media crackdown has revived a debate over whether tech giants should be treated as ‘publishers’ with the same liability as news providers.
After Twitter red-flagged some of Trump’s posts last year, the president demanded that the website be stripped of a ‘liability shield’ known as Section 230.
Fox News personality Dan Bongino, a supporter of Parler, raged that ‘the greatest threats to liberty are the destructive tech tyrants who have acted as publishers in their ongoing wars on conservatives and free speech’.
‘This will be my final post on this anti-American platform,’ he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
But concern over Big Tech’s power is not confined to the American right – with Angela Merkel’s spokesman today calling it ‘problematic’ that free speech could be obstructed by ‘decision of the management of social media platforms’.
Lionel Barber, the former editor of London’s Financial Times, said on Sunday that ‘now we can agree that platforms are publishers and that there are some limits to free speech, we need a serious debate about social media’s influence in a modern democracy’.
And UK government minister Matt Hancock said the Trump ban ‘raises a very important question, which is it means that the social media platforms are taking editorial decisions’.
Many Democrats also want to rein in the power of Big Tech, with dozens of attorneys general launching a lawsuit last month in a bid to break up Facebook.
Parler CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that ‘we will likely be down longer than expected’ as tech firms distance themselves from the site.
In his final post before the 3am deadline, Matze said that ‘most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us’
Launched in 2018, Parler operates much like Twitter with profiles people can follow and ‘parleys’ instead of tweets.
‘Our mission is to create a social platform in the spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,’ it boasts. ‘We prefer that removing community members or member-provided content be kept to the absolute minimum.’
The site claims more than 12million users in total, although analytics firm Sensor Tower puts the number at10 million worldwide, with eight million in the US.
Founded by computer engineer Matze and Republican donor Rebekah Mercer, it attracts a mixture of far-right users and more traditional Republican voices – and is already used by the president’s children Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka.
Fox News star host Sean Hannity has 7.6million followers on Parler, while his colleague Tucker Carlson has 4.4million.
There are also elected officials, including Nunes and South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem.
Trump supporters flocked to the app after the president was banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites in the wake of the violence at the Capitol.
But despite speculation that Trump himself would join Parler, he had no known account by the time the site was shut down today.
Late on Friday, Google announced it was banning Parler from its app store because of posts inciting violence and a casual approach to moderating content.
Apple followed suit a day later after alleging that Parler was being used to ‘plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities’.
The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump was among those who had set up a Parler account as conservatives dissatisfied with Twitter flocked to the site
Sean Hannity, the Fox News host favored by Donald Trump, also had an account on the page
Apple had given Parler 24 hours to submit a detailed moderation plan, claiming that participants had used the service to co-ordinate Wednesday’s siege.
Public safety issues will need to be resolved before access to Parler is restored, Apple said.
The moves by Apple and Google drastically limited Parler’s reach but did not completely block the app, because people who already had it could keep using it while new users could access it on a web browser.
But Amazon’s decision to strip Parler of access to its Amazon Web Services hosting platform directly threatens the site’s online presence.
Amazon said it had informed Parler of 98 examples of posts ‘that clearly encourage and incite violence’ and said the platform ‘poses a very real risk to public safety.’
‘We’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms of service,’ said an Amazon letter first reported by Buzzfeed.
Given the riot at the Capitol this week, the letter continued, there was a ‘serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence.’
Parler was given 24 hours to find an alternative host but, Matze said, ‘Where are you gonna find 300-to-500 servers in a 24-hour window… It’s an impossible feat.’
Tech giants have moved to shut down what they say is dangerous online content after a Trump-incited mob overran the seat of American democracy (pictured)
‘What they are doing is unprecedented, unfounded and absolutely disgusting. Shameful,’ Matze said of the tech giants.
‘Our mission is free speech, democracy and us the people having the power. The elite don’t want us to be free, they want hate, division and power.’
Matze had initially said that Parler might be unavailable for ‘up to a week as we rebuild from scratch’, but now says it might be offline for longer.
As the crackdown gathers speed, conservative sites might have to follow the example of another site popular on the far right, Gab.
That platform drew fierce criticism in 2018 when investigators found that the shooter who killed 11 people in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue had earlier posted anti-Semitic messages on the site.
Gab, already at loggerheads with Apple and Google, subsequently installed its own servers so as not to be dependent on outside providers.
Meanwhile, the DLive video streaming service, used by several protesters during the invasion of the Capitol, has closed seven of its channels and pulled more than 100 videos off the site.
How Parler CEO John Matze married ‘Russian he met during her US road trip’ before founding ‘free-speech’ platform that is now bankrolled by conservative donor Rebekah Mercer and used by MAGA fans
By Lauren Fruen for DailyMail.com
John Matze founded Parler in 2018 as a ‘free-speech driven’ alternative to mainstream platforms.
The self described libertarian soon began courting right-leaning users as prominent supporters of Donald Trump moved there.
And Parler had been the leading candidate for the president to continuing voicing his opinion, at least until Google and Apple removed it from their app stores and Amazon decided to boot it off its web hosting service Sunday.
Not much it known about Matze’s personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas.
She was said to have been on a two week road trip around the United States, TED Talk host Dave Troy reported in November.
Alina’s Instagram pictures show the couple have at least one child. In one picture she hold rifles and wears a t-shirt which reads: ‘Trust me, I’m a Russian spy.’
The couple appear to live a luxury lifestyle with numerous vacation pictures taken with their young child.
John Matze founded Parler in 2018 as a ‘free-speech driven’ alternative to mainstream platforms. He is pictured with his family
Not much it known about Matze’s personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova, pictured, after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas
After graduating in 2014 Matze, who studied math, German and business at the University of Denver,teamed up with fellow alumni Jared Thomson, now chief technical officer, to create Parler.
Matze told Forbes in July last year: ‘I don’t have too many friends, but the ones I do have, we just talk amongst ourselves about ideas—crazy ones, easy ones, whatever.’
He told the magazine he ‘does not watch TV’ but instead ‘gets everything off Parler’.
Alina shared this image of her husband appearing on Fox News to her Instagram account
One of Alina’s Instagram picture shows her promoting her husband’s app Parler
Matze’s app is now bankrolled by hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer’s daughter Rebekah, the Wall Street Journal reported in November.
The two-year-old magnet for the far right claims more than 12 million users, though mobile app analytics firm Sensor Tower puts the number at 10 million worldwide, with 8 million in the U.S.
Rebekah has described herself as a co-founder of the site with Matze. She is also thought to have studied at the University of Denver.
Hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer is pictured with his daughter Rebekah in 2017
‘John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,’ she wrote in a post on the site this fall.
‘The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online,’ she added.
Matze replied to the post: ‘Bekah is a great friend, an American patriot, and most importantly committed to the Parler vision of neutrality and data privacy. We are grateful for her support since 2018, and her early faith in the founders has enabled us to reach these heights. #transparency.’
After WSJ reported Rebekah’s links to Parler she issued a statement saying that her multi-millionaire father Robert was not an investor in the site – while sources close to the clan claimed that the investment was a family affair.
Those who have joined Parler include commentator Candace Owens, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who handcuffed herself to the door of Twitter’s New York office in November 2018 to protest a ban on her by the site.
Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr. are also already active on the site.
Alina’s Instagram pictures show the couple have at least one child
Not much it known about Matze’s personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas. She was said to have been on a two week road trip around the United States, TED Talk host Dave Troy reported in November.
The couple appear to live a luxury lifestyle with numerous vacation pictures
Parler hit headwinds, though, on Friday as Google yanked its smartphone app from its app store for allowing postings that seek ‘to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.’
Apple followed suit on Saturday evening after giving Parler 24 hours to address complaints it was being used to ‘plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.’ Public safety issues will need to be resolved before it is restored, Apple said.
Amazon struck another blow Saturday, informing Parler it would need to look for a new web-hosting service effective midnight Sunday.
It reminded Parler in a letter, first reported by Buzzfeed, that it had informed it in the past few weeks of 98 examples of posts ‘that clearly encourage and incite violence’ and said the platform ‘poses a very real risk to public safety.’
Matze decried the punishments as ‘a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace. We were too successful too fast,’ he said in a Saturday night post, saying it was possible Parler would be unavailable for up to a week ‘as we rebuild from scratch.’
‘Every vendor, from text message services, to e-mail providers, to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,’ Matze said Sunday on Fox New Channel’s ‘Sunday Morning Futures.’
Parler’s CEO John Matze also revealed that Amazon was cutting off the app’s servers, leaving it unavailable for a week as the company attempts to rebuild from scratch, pictured
He said while the company is trying to get back online as quickly as possible, it’s ‘having a lot of trouble, because every vendor we talk to says they won’t work with us, because, if Apple doesn’t approve and Google doesn’t approve, they won’t.’
Losing access to the app stores of Google and Apple — whose operating systems power hundreds of millions of smartphones — severely limits Parler’s reach, though it will continue to be accessible via web browser.
Losing Amazon Web Services will mean Parler needs to scramble to find another web host, in addition to the re-engineering.