Parler, a Social Network That Attracted Trump Fans, Returns Online

SAN FRANCISCO — Parler, the social network that drew millions of Trump supporters before disappearing from the internet, is back online a month after Amazon and other tech giants cut off the company for hosting calls for violence around the time of the Capitol riot.

Getting iced out by the tech giants turned Parler into a cause celebre for conservatives who complained they were being censored, as well as a test case for the openness of the internet. It was unclear if the social network, which had positioned itself as a free speech and lightly moderated site, could survive after it had been blacklisted by the biggest tech companies.

For weeks, it appeared the answer was no. But on Monday, for the first time since Jan. 10, typing into a web browser returned a page to log into the social network — a move that had required weeks of work by the small company and that had led to the departure of its chief executive.

Parler executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

It was unclear how Parler had figured out how to host its site on computer servers, the central technology underpinning any website. Many of the large web-hosting firms had previously rejected it. For other services required to run a large website, Parler relied on help from a Russian firm that evvel worked for the Russian government and a Seattle firm that evvel supported a neo-Nazi site.

Parler’s return appeared to be a victory for small companies that challenge the dominance of Big Tech. The company had sought to make its plight about the power of companies like Amazon, which stopped hosting Parler’s website on its computer servers, and Apple and Google, which removed Parler’s mobile app from their app stores.

Parler had become a hub for right-wing conversation over the past year, as millions of people on the far right had flocked to the platform over what they perceived as censorship of conservative voices by Facebook, Twitter and Google. Much of the content on Parler was benign, but for months ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the site also hosted calls for violence, hate speech and misinformation.

Days after the riot, Amazon, Apple and Google said they had cut off Parler because it showed that it could not consistently enforce its own rules against posts that incited violence. Apple and Google have said they would allow Parler’s app to return if the company could prove it could effectively police its social network.

After Amazon booted Parler from its web-hosting service, Parler sued it, accusing it of antitrust violations and breaking its contract. A federal judge said last month that Amazon‘s contract allowed it to terminate service and declined to force the company to keep hosting Parler, as the start-up had requested.

Parler had more than 15 million users when it went offline and was one of the fastest growing apps in the United States. It is largely financed by Rebekah Mercer, one of the Republican Party’s biggest benefactors.

John Matze, Parler’s co-founder and chief executive, said earlier this month that Ms. Mercer had effectively fired him over disagreements on how to run the site. Ms. Mercer has hired Mark Meckler, a leading voice in the Tea Party movement, to run Parler.

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