Parler, one of the foremost “alt-tech” social media sites, returned to near-full function at about midnight today (15 February 2021). (Visit it at this link.) Regular users noticed the return immediately. At about 10:15 a.m. EST, Parler issued a press release announcing its return.
Details of the Parler return press release
In its press release, Parler boasted of using “sustainable, independent technology” as a foundation. Originally, Parler built itself on a cloud service: Amazon Web Services. Memorably, on 10 January 2021, AWS took Parler down, with only three days’ notice. The company sued Amazon, seeking immediate reinstatement and money damages. A federal judge has since denied an emergency injunction for reinstatement. But the case remains active.
Parler will not describe exactly what “sustainable, independent technology” it uses. Presumably it has its own server farm, or a set of fully dedicated servers from a hosting service it trusts. Parler did reach out to Epik.com, a provider of hosting and domain registration. But Epik never confirmed nor denied agreeing permanently to become Parler’s new hosts.
Mark Meckler, the interim CEO of the company, said this:
Parler was built to offer a social media platform that protects free speech and values privacy and civil discourse. 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. We’re thrilled to welcome everyone back.
Parler is being run by an experienced team and is here to stay. We will thrive as the premier social media platform dedicated to free speech, privacy and civil dialogue.
Parler cannot yet register new users, though current users can log in and post. The company hopes to restore new user registration next week.
Drama at the company from shutdown to relaunch
For the first three weeks of the site’s downtime, Mr. John Matze headed the company, as he had since Parler opened for business in August of 2018. But on 29 January, the Board of Directors fired Matze, according to The Epoch Times. Matze publicly declared that he lost his job because the Board didn’t agree with him on
my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed.
To be specific, he held that he wanted “more effective moderation” of the site and “more product stability.”
Rebekah Mercer, daughter of financier Robert Mercer, holds the controlling vote. Dan Bongino, who owns a twenty percent stake in Parler, soundly disputed Matze’s account.
Let me be crystal clear on this. He [Matze] makes two points, that “oh I was a big advocate for free speech it was my vision’ and “I was a big advocate for product stability.” That is not true. That is not true. That is false….
The relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO’s vision was not ours.
Our vision was crystal clear. We needed to get up and fight back some terrible decisions were made in the past that led to this—that led us to getting put down by Amazon and others. It was us—me and the two other owners—that were constantly on the side of “this site was going to be a free speech platform” or it was going to be nothing.
Folks, we could have been up after Apple Amazon and Google wiped us out, we could have been up in a week if we just would’ve bent the knee and followed all the ridiculous Apple edicts to become a heavy moderation site to the left of Twitter. That’s not what we’re going to do. We don’t want to want garbage on our site either and we took the proper steps to do that. But we were a free speech site and we’ll remain as such and that’s why it’s taken so long to get back up.
Matze speaks to Axios and Business Insider
On 7 February, Matze gave an interview to Axios, a service of HBO Now. Kelsey Vlamis at Business Insider picked it up. In it, Matze told what is likely the clearest version of what was bothering him. Namely: Donald J. Trump specifically talked about getting an account on Parler. (In fact, according to Bongino, AWS officials expressed concern only about Trump joining the site, not about alleged “violent content” that Parler moderators might, or might not, have given a pass.)
Buzzfeed alleges that the Parler board offered the Trump organization a 40 percent stake in the company if Trump would open an account. Now Business Insider quotes Matze as saying he wanted no part of any such deal.
I didn’t like the idea of working with Trump, because he might have bullied people inside the company to do what he wanted.
Dan Bongino has not replied to this latest sally by Matze. Rebekah Mercer has never said a word. Parler, for its part, says only that they have an interim CEO:
Mark Meckler is an attorney, entrepreneur, and free speech advocate. He has expertise in launching, growing and developing effective business and technology models for two of the largest grassroots organizations in modern American history, Tea Party Patriots and Convention of States. He was appointed interim CEO to help guide Parler through its relaunch and search for a new, permanent CEO.
So how does Parler run today?
Your editor started an account on Parler shortly after its inception. CNAV, to paraphrase Patrick Henry, “smelt a rat” about Big Tech even then. This prompted CNAV to issue this Declaration of Cybernetic Independence.
Today Parler has indeed returned to full function for all existing accountholders. Profiles remain exactly as accountholders left them. (But old “parleys,” or posts, do not.) Feeds load within a reasonable time, and accountholders may add new “parleys,” at any time. “Parleys” take anywhere from a second to five minutes to finish processing before uploading to all feeds.
To add new content, one need only type. URLs resolve immediately to links, and after processing, into embeds using the most prominent image. One may, but need not, upload other images or even several images, which the site will publish as a gallery. This represents an improvement over Gab Social, which turns URLs into good links but does not automatically retrieve prominent images.
But Gab Social has one feature Parler still does not: hashtag handling. Hashtags may not begin with a capital letter, but with lowercase only. Your editor has reached out to Parler with a “feature request” for better hashtag handling.
Parler’s current apps do not function, because they cannot reach the site the same way as they once did. This might reflect the same fault that prevents new-account creation.
As of noon today (EST), the site suddenly slowed down. Whether new users or D-DoS attackers have overwhelmed the site, CNAV cannot determine.
The return of Parler represents the most significant victory to date against “cancel culture.” It also represents what Steven Turley, PhD, calls a “parallel polis.” Quite simply, he holds that if the gatekeepers of conventional society are determined to excommunicate those who disagree with them, then the “exiles” must build their own society. In the case of Parler, someone did. Then the conventional society sent a brigade of bulldozers to knock it down. But now it has returned, bulldozers or no.
This is what CNAV meant by a “Declaration of Cybernetic Independence.”
About the Parler logo image
This image is the new and latest logo for Parler. CNAV relies on the Fair Use Doctrine of the Copyright Act of 1973. According to this, the use of this logo, in an article reviewing the site for functionality and discussing the site’s recent history, constitutes fair use. CNAV does not recommend the use of this image for any other purpose! It belongs to Parler exclusively.