Parler, the social media site popular among many conservatives and fans of President Trump, may “never” come back, CEO John Matze told Reuters on Wednesday.
“It could be never,” Matze said, when asked if Parler will be back online soon. “We don’t know yet.”
The app is currently down after Apple and Google recently booted it from their app stores and Amazon terminated its web hosting services. Apple and Google are pushing Parler to censor more content before allowing it to return to their app stores. Google, in announcing its decision to suspend the app, pointed to “egregious content like posts that incite violence.” Google said the app would remain off its Play app store until it implements more “robust” content moderation. Apple’s complaints were similar, with the company accusing Parler of not taking “adequate measures” to address “threats of violence and illegal activity” that have cropped up in user comments in the wake of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday, during an interview with CBS News, reiterated Parler was suspended, not banned, and could return if it starts taking down more content.
“Parler has some issues with moderation,” Cook said. “Our hope is that they do that and get back on the store.”
This could turn into a blinking contest, though, considering Parler has positioned itself as a free speech haven for those disenchanted with Twitter and Facebook’s moderation policies. The app shot to the top of Apple’s App Store rankings on Friday, before it was pulled down, after Twitter announced it was banning President Trump from its service. Implementing stiffer content moderation policies could help Parler return to Google and Apple but also runs the risk of alienating some users. (Parler, in a court filing this week, said it has 12 million users.)
Moving forward, Matze told Fox News this week, the “platform will be free speech-first,” but that it will also be using “algorithmic approaches” to remove some inflammatory posts.
“We will be having algorithms look at all the content … to try and predict whether it’s a terms-of-service violation so we can adjust quicker and the most egregious things can get taken down,” Matze said. “So calls for violence, incitements, things of that nature, can be taken down immediately.”
Parler is also working to find a new cloud services provider to help get its site back online. Matze told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday the company was talking to several cloud companies, without mentioning specific providers. Microsoft and Google are two big-name options, but they may respond in a similar way to Amazon, which said Parler had too much “violent content” on its site. Smaller cloud companies are an option, too, but they may struggle to handle Parler’s needs. Matze told WSJ it may take about a week to get the site back online, but later, in his interview with Reuters, said companies are still hesitant to work with it.
“It’s hard to keep track of how many people are telling us that we can no longer do business with them, ” Matze said.