Parler, The Free Speech Parlor
Parler was formed in 2018 as an alternative to platforms like Twitter. People can create an account, follow others, upload images, and create posts of up to 1,000 words long. As ArsTechnica notes, Parler refers to itself as “a non-biased, free speech social media focused on protecting user’s rights.”
Conservatives flocked to Parler largely due to claims that platforms like Twitter were censoring them. Well-known names like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Representative Devin Nudes (R-Calif) have recommended Parler to their followers.
In the wake of recent events at the U.S. Capitol, Parler CEO John Matze encouraged the use of his platform. When Twitter suspended President Trump’s account, Mr. Matze said:
You won’t find [freedom of speech] on the Twitters with all those bird brains in charge. They are not a platform but a publisher. They don’t want free speech and as a byproduct they must not like democracy…we must liberate ourselves from their manipulation and dystopian tactics of control.
In a response to a further comment from Mr. Matze saying he doesn’t “feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform”, Apple said:
We want to be clear that Parler is in fact responsible for all the user generated content present on your service and for ensuring that this content meets App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users. We won’t distribute apps that present dangerous and harmful content.
According to Apple, it received complaints regarding “objectionable content” on Parler, along with accusations that the platform was used to “plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C.” In the email Apple cites two guidelines regarding objectionable content and user generation content, under a section called Safety.
In an email obtained by The Mac Observer on January 10, 2021, Mr. Matze has shared comments in an interview with Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures segment. Apple officially removed the app last night. Here is one quote:
And they have given us no legitimate remedy. They have tried to ask us for — to cooperate with them on a few things. We have tried to give them everything that they wanted, of course, without sacrificing our principles, but there weren’t remedies to do it, and they just don’t care.
We have never allowed any of this stuff on our platform. And we don’t even have a way to coordinate an event on our platform. So, they somehow want to make us responsible. And this seems to me like an excuse to just basically eliminate free speech at a convenient time for them.
Mr. Matze says that Parler doesn’t allow “any of this stuff” on the platform. But one rebuttal lies in the form of a Reddit subreddit called ParlerWatch. The description says it’s dedicated as “a place to post and discuss insane, threatening, or violent content from the social media platform.”
If user submissions can be taken as evidence, Parler is indeed a platform that hosts violent content.