Parler founder and CEO John Matze said that he is uncertain whether his social media platform, which was taken offline following the U.S. Capitol breach, would make a return.
Speaking to Reuters, Matze said the future of Parler, which has attracted a large following of classical liberal and conservative-leaning users, is still up in the air after Amazon, Apple, and Google banned the social media network from their services.
“It could be never,” Matze said. “We don’t know yet.”
Despite the uncertainty, he told the news wire that he was optimistic “Parler will return, and when we do we will be stronger.”
Parler was taken down by those companies after civil unrest and acts of violence marred a largely peaceful protest at the Capitol building on Jan. 6 when lawmakers were counting electoral votes.
Following the riots, which left five people dead and dozens of police officers injured, Big Tech companies ramped up their censorship on statements and comments from President Donald Trump, conservatives, and other voices they say may cause harm. Twitter on Jan. 8 permanently removed Trump’s account on its platform and justified its censorship by saying the president had violated its “Glorification of Violence Policy.” It also suspended accounts from other prominent conservatives such as Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, attorney Sidney Powell, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
The three companies justified their action toward Parler by accusing it of lacking a system to “implement robust moderation for egregious content.”
The companies didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ questions about their suspension.
The suspension from Big Tech came after Parler rose to become the number one application in Apple’s app store on Jan. 9, following Twitter’s suspension of Trump’s personal account. Matze told The Epoch Times that his social media network had around 20 million accounts at the time the companies suspended them.
Mobile app analytics company Sensor Tower told The Wrap in a statement that Parler saw approximately 182,000 first-time downloads in the United States on Jan. 8, which is up 355 percent on Jan. 7. The app saw about 268,000 installs across U.S. app stores since Jan. 6, the statement said.
Matze said on his Parler account late Jan. 9 that he believes Amazon, Google, and Apple coordinated to “try and ensure they don’t have competition.”
“This is a battle against all of us. Liberals, conservatives, atheists, Christians, black, white, etc. They want to keep their monopoly over speech. They want us fighting. They don’t want us working together. They don’t want us working with each other, they want us hating one another,” he said.
He has also condemned the usage of his platform to spread violence and pushed back on accusations that his platform was used to enable threats of violence and illegal activity.
These companies are using recent events to “go after Parler,” even though “there is no evidence Parler was used to coordinate the events,” Matze previously told The Epoch Times.
“Parler has no groups-style feature, and Facebook was the number one tool for coordinating meetups for that event,” he said.
Parler has since sued Amazon for suspending its web hosting service to the company, causing the company to go dark since Monday.
Matze’s lawyers said that although Amazon claims that the suspension was over Parler’s “unwillingness and inability” to moderate violent content, they argued that they didn’t believe that was the real concern, citing text messages between an Amazon Web Services (AWS) representative and Matze.
“In completely shutting down Parler’s ability to retain its millions of users, attract advertisers, or generate any revenue, AWS has knowingly inflicted lasting damage to what was, until very recently, a thriving business,” Parler’s filing late on Wednesday read (pdf).
Amazon “expressed no concerns with Parler’s content moderation,” according to the filing, adding that the same Amazon “representative repeatedly asked whether the President had joined or would join Parler now that he was blocked by Twitter and Facebook.”
“After Twitter banned President Trump on January 8, the increased new users and activity caused Parler to go down for seven hours, resulting in a backlog of 26,000 instances of content that potentially encouraged violence,” said the court filing. But, according to the company, Parler then “was able to systematically remove almost all of this content, which progress was reported to AWS, and within 48 hours by the end of Sunday—when AWS shut Parler down—Parler had removed all but some 1,000 problematic posts.”
Parler noted that it was going to add additional provisions to moderate content, but it argued that Amazon appeared not to listen.
Amazon had argued that the case “is not about suppressing speech or stifling viewpoints. It is not about a conspiracy to restrain trade.”
“Instead, this case is about Parler’s demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of Amazon Web Services (‘AWS’) content that threatens the public safety,” it argued.
Unbalanced policing of user content and certain political views has raised concerns over First Amendment rights and the lack of checks and balances on decisions made by Big Tech companies. Discussions over limiting or eliminating liability protections under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act for tech companies that have engaged in censoring or political conduct have been heavily discussed in the past year.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.