Social media apps shifted from entertainment to fully integrated parts of our communications, commerce, daily routines, and daily lives. Some are some rise, others fall, and that was precisely the case with the Parler – a free speech-focused social media app that was shut down due to accusations about lack of moderation policies. But guess what: the world’s most controversial social media app is coming back.
As CNN reports, Apple approved Parler’s return to the iOS app store following improvements social media company made to adhere to Apple’s developer guidelines and App Store’s rules. The approval was issued on April 19, 2021, after Parler improved its hate-speech and incitement detection and moderation, and is scheduled to reappear on the App Store on April 26, 2021. However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye since Parler only updated detection and moderation of conservative thought and possible hate speech for Apple and its users.
According to the company behind the app, the newly added filtering of the app’s content is only focused on iOS users. The App Store version of the social media app will prohibit some posts that will remain visible to the Android users and the web-based version of Parler. The company didn’t disclose what kinds of content that would imply, but it will meet Apple’s requirement of a filtering system to “objectionable” user-posted material.
Parler was originally conceived of as a less strictly moderated, free speech-focused, and unbiased alternative to Facebook and Twitter when it launched in August 2018. As such, it amassed a 15 million user database, a large portion of which consists of Donald Trump supporters and conservatives. However, after the reports that Parler was used to coordinate the 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol, Google and Apple removed Parler’s app from their app stores, contending that the app poses a public safety threat.
Amazon Web Services added salt to the injury when they suspended Parler from their hosting and cloud computing services. Parler sued Amazon under antitrust law, accusing Amazon of political bias, which ultimately benefits Twitter by reducing its competition. Unfortunately for them, the U.S. District Judge ruled in Amazon’s favor. Following its removal from the web, the U.S. chairwoman Carolyn Maloney called for an FBI probe into Parler regarding its role in the 2021 storming of Washington D.C.
Parler services returned online on February 15, 2021, with a redesigned website and no track history of previously posted content. The company transferred the Parler domain to Epik, a hosting company known for hosting far-right websites, with DDoS protection from Russia-owned company, DDoS-Guard. The company also announced the new site will monitor for violent content, operated by both humans and A.I. It will hide posts that attack sexual orientation, race, religion, and other sensitive topics with a “trolling filter.”
Parler’s web-based and Android users will be able to click through the filter and see the questionable content, but this feature and the content itself, will be omitted from the App Store version Parler. If you liked Parler on your iOS device and wish to access it again, you’ll be able to download the app on April 26, 2021.