Parler is Back Online More Than a Month After Amazon Knocked It Offline

(The Washington Post) -
parler app
(Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Parler is back online after the social media site popular with supporters of former president Donald Trump was knocked offline last month.

Parler effectively fell off the Internet in January, when Amazon refused to provide technical cloud computing support to the site after the tech giant determined that Parler was not doing enough to moderate and remove incitements of violence.

The site was not fully functional on Monday, and some users reported technical glitches as they tried to log in and refresh feeds. Private messaging was disabled, but the basic outline of the site was live.

“We’re in for a little bit of a bumpy ride for the next day or two, there’s been a ton of backend work we’ve completed over the last couple of weeks,” Parler Chief Technology Officer Alexander Blair posted on the site Monday morning.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Parler, which said it had more than 12 million users when it was knocked offline, became especially popular with Trump supporters last year and emerged as a common place to discuss election fraud claims after Trump lost the November 2020 election. The tipping point for many of its partners to pull technical support came after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, when users on Parler glorified the riot.

Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores, making it nearly impossible for new users to download the app. Then Amazon severed its hosting service from Parler, effectively turning off the lights. The companies cited Parler’s lax moderation policies against calls for violence.

Parler did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its return or its hosting service.

Parler appeared to be using a Los Angeles-based cloud hosting company called SkySilk to return online. Hackers on Twitter, including the user who orchestrated a large-scale scrape of Parler’s public data as it fell offline, identified SkySilk as the host. John Jackson, founder of hacking group Sakura Samurai, confirmed that the technical footprint points to SkySilk in public records.

SkySilk did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

Parler long prided itself on allowing users “free speech” in pretty much any legal form, and regularly railed against big social media sites for what it characterized as over-moderating what users posted online. It got an initial boost of high-profile users, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in summer 2020 after Twitter started labeling Trump’s posts with fact checks.

The social media site was known as a friendly spot for conservative pundits and supporters who were fed up with “censorship” on other social media apps.

It’s been a bumpy ride for Parler since the Capitol attack. After it was kicked offline, the site sued Amazon for the decision and launched a static Web page where it posted periodic updates about its efforts to come back online.

Then the board of directors, which includes investor and billionaire Republican megadonor Rebekah Mercer, fired CEO and co-founder John Matze. Matze told Axios that he advocated for Parler to adopt more automated moderating, which the big social media sites use together with human moderators to enforce their policies.

Parler is now being run by interim CEO Mark Meckler, who co-founded the right-wing Tea Party Patriots political organization.

“We are committed to continuing to fulfill our role as the premier platform for free speech, data sovereignty and civil discourse,” Meckler posted on Parler Monday.