Parler: Is the conservative Twitter alternative on its way out?
Parler has established itself as a serious alternative for those who think they are experiencing too much censorship on platforms such as Twitter. It seems that trouble is beginning to loom now, as it is not just tech giants Google, Apple, and Amazon who are currently making life more than difficult for Parler.
Parler: playground of right-wing extremists
Just a few days ago, Parler CEO John Matze was jubilant about the huge reception for his app by the masses. Parler is seen as a conservative Twitter alternative and has dominated the download charts in the app stores for days. This is even starker ever since outgoing US President Donald Trump was banned by Twitter, seeing his supporters flocking to this alternative platform. It's not really "conservative," though, because the main difference of Parler with Twitter is the lack of rules and moderation.
This has given rabble-rousers, contrarians, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccinationists, and, last but not least, racists a glorious playground to let off steam to their heart's content. Over here, they can exchange ideas without the constant interference of supposed do-gooders, and it is also speculated that the attacks on Capitol Hill were discussed and coordinated.
Tough headwinds ahead for Parler
It does seem that the headwinds Parler is sailing into are getting tougher and tougher. News has been pouring in over the past few days, starting with Apple and Google banning this app from their respective app stores. This made it much more difficult for potential users to install Parler and become part of the network. On Google's part, they justified this move by saying the presence of Parler would invite posts to be posted there continually that might just incite further violence.
As if that wasn't bad enough for Parler, Amazon, the other tech giant in the fray, came forward and hit the service even harder: on Monday night, the service, which is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), had its servers taken down. Since then, the lights have been off at Parler, and according to recent statements by the CEO, they've been working longer than expected to get this problem fixed.
Nobody wants to play with Parler
Up until now, Parler did not mind being a bit of a less famous version of Twitter, but that might be different now. After all, Parler cannot find a host for their services, and no company is offering up their services that would see them aligning themselves to Parler's common cause. Heck, even the company's very own lawyers do not want to be associated with Parler! So this is the perfect time for – precisely, a privacy scandal!
Yep, that's right. Unsurprisingly, they've been pretty lax with privacy and security of the service, so much so that activists have now managed to hijack 70 TBytes of Parler users' data, as our colleagues at golem.de reported. Postings, photos, videos – everything was there for the taking, and things are likely to get hairy especially for those involved in last Wednesday's events in Washington.
In order to secure a "Verified Citizen" status on Parler, users had to upload the front and back of their driver's licenses – relevant law enforcement agencies, to whom all this data is made available, have presumably long since been rubbing their hands in glee. You can read about how this whole coup happened on Reddit.
Is this the end for Parler?
With that, we can conclude that Parler is currently down, and the platform is cannot be downloaded via Google Play or the Apple App Store. No one wants to work with Parler or even be seen to be associated in any way, and a huge mountain of user data with some content that could implicate certain quarters with criminal charges will end up in the hands of investigating law enforcement agencies. Probably not the best week in the life of Parler CEO John Matze.
We can continue to speculate how this platform will ever manage to get anywhere near the relevance it managed to achieve in the recent weeks and months. It is quite possible that Parler will not recover from this blow and the digital rabble-rousers will move on to the next available service not too long after.
We will report on this topic further as news breaks, and also question whether the tech companies have acted collectively are overstepping their boundaries yet again by being over-controlling and having too much power in their hands. Feel free to let us know your opinion in the comments section and how you see Parler and the handling of Parler.
Source: New York Times, Spiegel