Right-wing social media site Parler has disappeared from the web and vanished from the Apple and Google app stores after tech giants cut ties with the platform in the wake of the deadly mob attack at the US Capitol.
Parler went offline shortly after 3am EST after Amazon booted the platform off its web hosting service, effectively shutting it down until it can find a new hosting partner.
Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter, the site is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday’s riot.
Parler was the most-downloaded app in the Apple store a day after Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account on Friday, before both Apple and Google cut off its access to their app stores.
CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that ‘we will likely be down longer than expected’ as tech firms distance themselves from the ‘free speech’ site.
‘Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well,’ he said.
‘Parler is my final stand on the Internet. I won’t be making an account on any social. Parler is my home.’
Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter, Parler is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday’s attack at the Capitol
Shortly after 3am EST, Parler disappeared from the web with an error message saying ‘we can’t connect to the server’ after Amazon pulled the plug
The app was removed from the Google app store after conservative social media users flocked to the site in the wake of the Capitol attack
Launched in 2018, Parler operates much like Twitter with profiles people can follow and ‘parleys’ instead of tweets.
‘Our mission is to create a social platform in the spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,’ it boasts. ‘We prefer that removing community members or member-provided content be kept to the absolute minimum.’
The site claims more than 12million users in total, although analytics firm Sensor Tower puts the number at10 million worldwide, with eight million in the US.
Founded by computer engineer Matze and Republican donor Rebekah Mercer, it attracts a mixture of far-right users and more traditional Republican voices – and is already used by the president’s children Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka.
Fox News star host Sean Hannity has 7.6million followers on Parler, while his colleague Tucker Carlson has 4.4million.
There are also elected officials, including Republicans Devin Nunes, a California congressman, and South Dakota governor Kristi Noem.
Trump supporters flocked to the app after the president was banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites in the wake of the violence at the Capitol – but despite speculation that Trump himself would do so, he had no known account by the time the site was shut down today.
Late on Friday, Google announced it was banning Parler from its app store because of posts inciting violence and a casual approach to moderating content.
Apple followed suit a day later after alleging that Parler was being used to ‘plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities’.
Parler CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that ‘we will likely be down longer than expected’ as tech firms distance themselves from the site.
In his final post before the 3am deadline, Matze said that ‘most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us’
The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump was among those who had set up a Parler account as conservatives dissatisfied with Twitter flocked to the site
Apple had given Parler 24 hours to submit a detailed moderation plan, claiming that participants had used the service to co-ordinate Wednesday’s siege.
Public safety issues will need to be resolved before access to Parler is restored, Apple said.
The moves by Apple and Google drastically limited Parler’s reach but did not completely block the app, because people who already had it could keep using it while new users could access it on a web browser.
But Amazon’s decision to strip Parler of access to its Amazon Web Services hosting platform directly threatens the site’s online presence.
Amazon said it had informed Parler of 98 examples of posts ‘that clearly encourage and incite violence’ and said the platform ‘poses a very real risk to public safety.’
‘We’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms of service,’ said an Amazon letter first reported by Buzzfeed.
Given the riot at the Capitol this week, the letter continued, there was a ‘serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence.’
Parler was given 24 hours to find an alternative host but, Matze said, ‘Where are you gonna find 300-to-500 servers in a 24-hour window… It’s an impossible feat.’
Tech giants have moved to shut down what they say is dangerous online content after a Trump-incited mob overran the seat of American democracy (pictured)
‘What they are doing is unprecedented, unfounded and absolutely disgusting. Shameful,’ Matze said of the tech giants.
‘Our mission is free speech, democracy and us the people having the power. The elite don’t want us to be free, they want hate, division and power.’
Matze had initially said that Parler might be unavailable for ‘up to a week as we rebuild from scratch’, but now says it might be offline for longer.
As the crackdown gathers speed, conservative sites might have to follow the example of another site popular on the far right, Gab.
That platform drew fierce criticism in 2018 when investigators found that the shooter who killed 11 people in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue had earlier posted anti-Semitic messages on the site.
Gab, already at loggerheads with Apple and Google, subsequently installed its own servers so as not to be dependent on outside providers.
Meanwhile, the DLive video streaming service, used by several protesters during the invasion of the Capitol, has closed seven of its channels and pulled more than 100 videos off the site.