The US president may look to move to Parler after he was forced from Twitter

Credit: Telegraph

Within a matter of days, Parler has gone from reaching number one on the Apple App Store to being taking offline entirely over its ties to the siege on the US Capitol.

Amazon kicked the right-wing social media network off its web-hosting service on Monday, and the social media app promptly sued to get back online, telling a federal judge that the tech giant had breached its contract and abused its market power.

It followed Parler’s move to the top of Apple’s App Store on Friday, where it recorded 210,000 installs in a single day, according to figures from analytics site Sensor Tower. That was up from 55,000 on the previous day.

Messages of support for Wednesday’s attack in Washington DC – along with calls for more demonstrations – had flourished on the platform, leading Google to also remove it from its app store later that day, followed by Apple on Saturday.

John Matze, who launched the app in August 2018 as an alternative to Twitter, said the actions were "a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace."

“People are threatening my life, I can’t go home tonight,” he said in an interview with Fox News.

What is Parler?

The social network operated much like Twitter, with profiles to follow and "parleys" instead of tweets. The site prided itself on allowing users to "speak freely" and was against the use of fact-checkers.

Users could "echo" posts they wished to share with their own followers. Alternatively "upvoting" took the place of traditional "likes".

Last year, executive director at the Open Rights Group Jim Killock said the app was “filling a space” created by the restraints on other social media sites.

However, with its free speech policies, Parler had become a hotbed for extremist views and conspiracy theories. Amazon included examples of posts that called for the killing of Democrats, journalists, Muslims and Black Lives Matter leaders in its justification for suspending the site.

The company did impose some rules. It advised users “not to use language or visuals which suggest people should die”. It also advisds users not to use language that suggests people “should be attacked”.

“It may be reasonable for these platforms to make such restraints, but it does point to the dangers of pushing far right speech into highly networked but entirely closed spaces,” he said after Twitter began labelling Trump’s tweets last year.

“If the pursuit of an ever safer online environment means that trolls and extremists congregate in special, uncensored spaces and wind each other up with nearly nobody to challenge them, then we may be creating a more risky online environment rather than less.”

Speaking last summer, Mr Matze warned that “no one is going to want to stay on Twitter if the conservatives are gone”.

How popular was it?

In December, Parler claimed to have more than 4 million active users. It had less than 1 million in early 2020. Despite the rapid growth the social network still remained some way off its mainstream competitors. Twitter boasts 187 million daily users and Facebook touts around 1.8 billion.

In pictures: Donald Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol Building

Donald Trump is not believed to have had an account on Parler. However his campaign team had been active on the site for some time before it was shut down, as well as his son Eric Trump and his campaign manager Brad Parscale.

The US dominated traffic to Parler with 75.96pc of all users from there, according to figures from SimilarWeb. Canada was the second largest provider of traffic with 3.93pc while the UK was in third with 3.67pc of its total audience.

Parler also boasted a number of high-profile UK users, including Katie Hopkins, who was banned from Twitter for breaching rules around “abuse and hateful conduct”.

Shortly after moving to Parler, Hopkins began posting on the Black Lives Matter movement, suggesting it would result in “Black Economic Empowerment. The transfer of wealth along racial lines”. Within days she had gathered over a quarter of a million followers. 

Other famous Parler users included actor-turned-free-speech activist Laurence Fox and Conservative politicians Ben Bradley and Guilford’s Angela Richardson. 

What has been the reaction to Parler’s shutdown?

Parler’s recent growth was supercharged after last week’s violence in DC as new users, furious over Twitter’s ban on Trump, flocked to the app.

In one now-deleted post, an account purporting to belong to Lin Wood, a pro-Trump lawyer, called for Vice President Mike Pence to be put in front of a firing squad – threats which US media have reported led to a secret service investigation.

Supporters of President Trump expressed outrage at the news of the website being taken down.

Ahead of the shutdown, the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., complained that "big tech has totally eliminated the notion of free speech in America."

Prominent pro-Trump commentator and conspiracy theorist Mark Dice took to Twitter to accuse "Marxists" of taking Parler offline, urging followers to register on secure messaging app Telegram and Gab, another site popular with the far-right.

With tech giants making their opposition clear, conservative sites such as Parler are likely going to have to find ways to adjust or face being taken offline.

Were you a Parler user? What did you like about the platform? Tell us in the comments section below.