Twitter counterpart for the far right stands in front of a pile of broken glass: Flies out of app stores and has to go completely offline for now.
The soaring is followed by a rapid crash: a few days after the storming of Trump supporters on the US Capitol, the operators of Parler are in front of a pile of broken glass. The Twitter alternative for right-wing extremists and conservatives has not only lost its main distribution channels within a few hours, but also the technical infrastructure for operating the service.
Google started on Friday: the Android manufacturer unceremoniously threw the Parler app from its own Play Store. One day later, Apple followed this example: On Sunday night, Parler was also thrown from the App Store for iPhones and iPads. The arguments of the two companies are very similar. Parler has failed to remove postings calling for violence, they say in unison. One cannot and does not want to offer a platform for such a thing. Parler could only return to the app stores if the operator introduced appropriate moderation.
That could be difficult, however. After all, Parler is loudly positioning itself as a platform for uncompromising freedom of expression, on which anyone can post anything. With precisely this promise, Parler gradually became a kind of safe haven for right-wing extremists who were banned from large platforms such as Twitter or Facebook – and their followers. Parler was accordingly combative at first: “We will not give in to politically motivated companies and authoritarian people who hate freedom of expression,” Parler boss John Matze responded in a posting to the Google ban.
Too little too late
Behind the scenes, however, things obviously looked a little different: The company is said to have hastily tried to set up minimal moderation for the content on the platform. For example, a post by Trump attorney Lin Wood was deleted in which he called for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence. Pence is currently something of the biggest hate object among Trump supporters. After all, he had refused to illegally abuse his power to prevent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from being confirmed as new President and Vice President. Even during the storming of the Capitol, Trump supporters shouted “Hang Mike Pence”.
That was too much even for Parler.
Amazon turns off the juice
A minimal course correction, which was also no longer enough for another company: In the early morning hours of Sunday, Amazon informs the operators of the right network that their account with Amazon Web Services will shortly be suspended. So far, Parler has used Amazon’s cloud as the basis for its services, but now you are without a provider. In an email published by Buzzfeed, Amazon also refers to the numerous calls for violence that are on the platform. Parler had obviously begun to remove some of these postings, but this was not sufficient and it was not to be assumed that the platform will get this under control in the foreseeable future – or will get it. After all, Parler boss Matze had only recently publicly emphasized that one does not feel responsible for the content posted – and thus also calls for violence.
After being kicked out of the app stores, Parler tried to teach his users how to use the web version instead of the Android and iOS apps – and convinced them that the word “Progressive” was used in “Progressive Web App.” ” does not go back to a secret plan of liberal powers in the sense of” progressive ” , but as” progressive “is a technical description – this is now obsolete. After the Amazon deadline has expired – in Austria at 8:59 a.m. Monday morning – Parler will no longer be available.
The platform operators leave little doubt about this either. In a public statement, John Matze warns users that Parler will be offline for at least a week before the infrastructure can be rebuilt elsewhere. That could still be an optimistic estimate, after all, it cannot be assumed that any other large cloud provider will stand by Parler’s side. This also makes their work much more difficult for various right-wing extremist groups. After all, Parler has already circulated martial and pathetic calls for new acts of violence to inaugurate Biden and Harris on January 20th.
The rise before the fall
Before the ban, Parler seemed to be enthusiastic about the latest developments: The expulsion of Donald Trump and numerous QAnon conspiracy tellers on Twitter and other platforms had complained to numerous new users in recent days. The app even made it to number 1 in Apple’s app store charts. Even if such rankings only reflect current trends and not total download numbers, this shows the extent of the interest of Trump supporters.
With the current steps of the large platform operators, history is repeating itself to a certain extent: Google already threw Gab another discourse network for right-wing extremists from the Play Store in August 2017. At Apple, the Gab app was never accepted. Both of these have massively damaged the spread of Gab, but of course also indirectly cleared the way for Parler. The financial support of one of the richest families in the USA was certainly not an obstacle: Rebekah Mercer, daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, is one of the most important investors behind Parler.
Rapid deletion actions
Meanwhile, quite a few other popular platforms seem to be beginning to panic when they storm the Capitol . After the streaming platform DLive had also initially emphasized that it did not want to carry out any “censorship”, some known accounts have now been blocked. Including several who can be attributed to the right-wing extremist thugs Proud Boys. With this step, one obviously wants to prevent a fate like that of Parler or Gab – so to forestall an expulsion from Apple and Google.
Otherwise it remains to be seen how the current wave of blocking will affect the organization of right-wing extremists on the Internet. Many well-known actors have lost their mouthpiece in the past few days. For example, the “War Room” podcast by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was deleted from YouTube. In this case, Google argued that Bannon had repeatedly spread false information about the US presidential election. (Andreas Proschofsky, 10.1.2021)