Archive for Parler

Parler Returns To Apple’s App Store With AI Based Moderation

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 18, 2021 by itnerd

Parler, the social network favored by the far-right, is back up on Apple’s App Store and will apparently rely on AI algorithms to automatically flag hate speech. But only on iPhones. Not on Android phones or on the web according to the Washington Post:

Posts that are labeled “hate” by Parler’s new artificial intelligence moderation system won’t be visible on iPhones or iPads. There’s a different standard for people who look at Parler on other smartphones or on the Web: They will be able to see posts marked as “hate,” which includes racial slurs, by clicking through to see them.

That’s great I suppose for those who are within Apple’s walled garden. But it really doesn’t address the issue of Parler not exactly being great for civil discourse. I say that because those who really want to see all the hate, intolerance, and conspiracy theories that they can handle will simply use Android or the web. And the flip side of that is that AI isn’t perfect. Thus it is going to flag some things that shouldn’t be flagged, and miss stuff that should be flagged. In other words, it is not a solution to Parler’s larger issues. But they’re back on the App Store so I suppose it’s a win for Parler.

Parler Is Back On The App Store…. Apple Says That Improved Moderation Is The Reason

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2021 by itnerd

You might recall that as part of being “Thanos Snapped” off the Internet, the Parler App was removed from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store because of the lack of moderation. That appears to have changed as  CNN is reporting that Apple has approved Parler’s latest attempt to return to the App Store follow improvements to the moderation system:

Apple has approved Parler’s return to the iOS app store following improvements the social media company made to better detect and moderate hate speech and incitement, according to a letter the iPhone maker sent to Congress on Monday. 

The decision clears the way for Parler, an app popular with conservatives including some members of the far right, to be downloaded once again on Apple devices. The letter — addressed to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck and obtained by CNN — explained that since the app was removed from Apple’s platform in January for violations of its policies, Parler “has proposed updates to its app and the app’s content moderation practices.” 

On April 14, Apple’s app review team told Parler that its proposed changes were sufficient, the letter continued. Now, all Parler needs to do is to flip the switch. 

“Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it,” Apple’s letter said.

Now Apple is under a fair amount of governmental scrutiny at the moment. So this might be simply a way to try to change the the narrative. Or maybe Parler actually is becoming more responsible as evidenced by this. Who knows? But this might be interesting to watch as I believe that the answer will become clear shortly.

Parler Referred Violent Content to the FBI 50 Times…. And Their Users Are Mad

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2021 by itnerd

Apparently Parler users don’t like the fact that Parler from all appearances are trying to be a better online platform when it comes to policing the behavior of their users. It appears that the right wing social media platform has referred violent content to the FBI at least 50 times prior the January 6th riot in Capitol Hill that resulted in the deaths of five people.

Parler, which faced significant backlash in the wake of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters, referred violent content to the FBI at least 50 times prior to the pro-Trump riot, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The social media site shared a link to the article, drawing backlash from some members of the online platform. Parler has built its platform by positioning itself as being opposed to censorship and staunchly in favor of free speech.

“In reaction to yesterday’s news stories, some users have raised questions about the practice of referring violent or inciting content to law enforcement. The First Amendment does not protect violence inciting speech, nor the planning of violent acts. Such content violates Parler’s TOS. Any violent content shared with law enforcement was posted publicly and brought to our attention primarily via user reporting. And, as it is posted publicly, it can properly be referred to law enforcement by anyone. Parler remains steadfast in protecting your right to free speech,” Parler posted on Saturday in response to criticism.

But some users of the site were still unhappy with Parler’s decision.

“I don’t like snitches,” user MelodySuarez wrote in response to the explanation.

Snitches? Really? It seems to me that Parler users are confusing the right to free speech with the right to break the law and not suffer any consequences for it. But maybe I am looking at this wrong. I should also note that Newsweek reported something similar in an earlier article. And Parler users had this to say:

One user wrote: “To confirm, you are calling for an investigation into big tech collusion while you are colluding with the FBI against your platform members?” Another user wrote: “This is NOT an example of a free speech platform. Parler is a fraud.”

When you call everything and everyone else a fraud because they no longer fit your world view, maybe you’re the fraud. Just a thought.

It seems to me that Parler’s near death experience has made it figure out it has to behave a lot better or cease to exist if they don’t. Parler users aren’t thrilled with that so here we are talking about it. It also means that these users will end up abandoning the platform and going to some other platform which fits with their world view where this will start up all over again.

Fun times.

Parler Appears To Be Hosted By A Company Called SkySilk…. Hmmmm…..

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 17, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday, Parler rose from the dead and stumbled back on line. Though they have a bunch of other issues that keep them from being fully functional. At the time I said that a company called CloudRoute was hosting them. But based on this tweet, that appears not to be correct:

Prior to today, I had never heard of this company. But I think that SkySilk will get a lot of attention now. And not all of it positive for SkySilk.

SkySilk’s acceptable use policy suggests Parler might not get a free ride from SkySilk based on this verbiage:

“customers or End Users engaged in the dissemination of material that may cause us to be subject to attacks on our network, or that while technically legal, run counter to our corporate principles.”

Though whether SkySilk will enforce this remains to be seen based on this:

“We do not review, edit, censor, or take responsibility for any information customers or End Users may create.”

Thus this makes this situation interesting to watch because I suspect that it will not take long for their acceptable use policy to come into play given Parler’s previous track record.

Time to sit back and watch the fireworks.

Parler Is Apparently Back Online….. Sort Of…..

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 16, 2021 by itnerd

Parler has apparently made a return from the dead as it is back online following several weeks of darkness after the social media site popular with supporters of former president Donald Trump was Thanos snapped offline:

In a statement announcing the relaunch, Parler also said it had appointed Mark Meckler as its interim Chief Executive, replacing John Matze who was fired by the board this month.

Parler went dark after being cut off by major service providers that accused the app of failing to police violent content related to the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by followers of then-U.S. President Donald Trump.

Despite the relaunch, the website was still not opening for many users and the app was not available for download on mobile stores run by Apple and Alphabet-owned Google, which had earlier banned the app.

While several users took to rival Twitter to complain they were unable to access the service, a few others said they could access their existing account.

This shouldn’t inspire confidence as it sounds like things are bumpy right now for Parler. And perhaps things will be bumpy for a while seeing as AWS scales a lot better than pretty much any host out there. Including this host that Parler is using:

Parler seems to be using CloudRoute as its new host and replaced Amazon with open-source software platform Ceph, according to anonymous computer programmer “Crash override” who goes with the Twitter handle @donk_enby.

The programmer, who became famous for cataloging almost all the posts of users across Parler from the day of the Capitol riot, tweeted on Monday that user accounts were still there in the new platform but posts, images and videos were wiped.

Parler and CloudRoute did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This of course ignores the fact that their apps are still unavailable in the Google Play and Apple App Store, and accessing sites like Parler is easier done from a Android or iOS device. So while Parler is back from the dead, their issues may not be over.


Parler’s CEO Has Apparently Been Shown The Door

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 4, 2021 by itnerd

John Matze, CEO and co-founder of far-right friendly social media platform Parler, said on LinkedIn Wednesday that he has been terminated. Here’s what Axios has to say:

Parler has been at the center of controversy since Amazon Web Services, Apple and Google unplugged the network last month for its lack of content moderation related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In a memo obtained by Fox News, Matze said that the company’s board of directors, controlled by Republican political donor Rebekah Mercer, terminated him last Friday. He did not participate in the decision, and the reason for the firing remains unknown. 

“Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed,” Matze wrote. “For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation.” “I have worked endless hours and fought constant battles to get the Parler site running but at this point, the future of Parler is no longer in my hands.” Matze will take a few weeks off before looking for new opportunities, he told Parler colleagues.

In terms of him finding new opportunities, given the current political climate that may be a challenge. Though if something from a right leaning organization presented itself to him, that may be his best option in terms of a next gig.

But in terms of why he was fired, perhaps it’s something like this.

First of all, the CEO has one job, and one job only: they are expected to make the company a success and grow shareholder value, and they are the ones responsible for everything.

In this case, he “implemented a system of content moderation that he believed was more effective.” Clearly it was not as Parler was Thanos snapped off the Internet. The results are Parler lost access to their core infrastructure and their name and brand is utter garbage across the country. Many people had never heard of Parler before this, but now they have and that’s not the best impression to make. This directly affects shareholder value and thus he was shown the door. As a bonus, having him exit shows shareholders that Parler is going to go in a new direction to get some value back. That’s my take. But what do you think? Leave a comment and share your view.

Judge Says No To Injunction Forcing Amazon To Bring Parler Back To Life

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 22, 2021 by itnerd

You might remember that Parler sued Amazon Web Services for Thanos snapping them off the Internet because according to Amazon, they had violated their terms of service by not moderating their content. Especially content related to the Capitol attacks that left five dead. Well, that lawsuit isn’t going so well. A US federal district judge has turned down Parler’s request for a preliminary injunction to force Amazon Web Services to host the right wing social network. The ruling [Warning: PDF] is pretty clear:

The Court rejects any suggestion that the public interest favors requiring AWS to host the incendiary speech that the record shows some of Parler’s users have engaged in,

Well, that’s pretty definitive.

Parler is free to appeal the ruling. Though if you read the ruling the judge figured that Parler would not succeed unless their lawyers for the site find new legal arguments. Good luck with that.

Epik Hosting Sends Out Messaging Related To Parler…. Which Is Very Interesting

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 21, 2021 by itnerd

This morning I got a very unusual email from Epik Hosting. Unusual because I have never reached out to or dealt with them on any level in the past. I’ve only written about them. You might recall that Epik have a reputation for being the host of choice for right wing and new-nazi types in the United States. And they were said to be currently trying to help right wing social media site Parler get back on line after being Thanos snapped off the Internet by Amazon Web Services, as well as Apple, and Google for allowing the violence at the Capitol to be planned on their site. In any case, the email directed me towards a press release that was online. And in that press release, the key item is this:

Read a certain way, it sounds like Epik isn’t actively involved in this effort to bring Parler back from the dead.

The next part of the statement reads like they are trying to distance themselves from their reputation.

Which is interesting as to the best of my knowledge their reputation is as follows:

But maybe the cynic in me is making an appearance.

The rest of this statement reads like a call for free speech and civil discourse. Here’s an example:

So, if I take this whole statement I read it as follows:

  • Epik isn’t exactly helping Parler to get back online, but they support Parler
  • Epik supports free speech and Parler is part of that.

Again, maybe I am getting cynical in my old age, but I look at this statement and I really feel that there’s a fair amount of spin and support of Parler here. Which is interesting because Epik is allegedly not helping them. Perhaps I am reading this wrong. But given the track record that Epik apparently has, looking at this statement with some degree of suspicion seems to be warranted. At least in my view.

Parler Takes The Next Step In Making A Comeback

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 19, 2021 by itnerd

Right-wing social media platform Parler, which has been offline since Amazon Web Services Thanos snapped it off the Internet last week, has reappeared on the Web with a promise to return as a fully functional service “soon“:

Although the platform’s Android and iOS apps are still defunct, this weekend its URL once again began to resolve to an actual website, instead of an error notice. The site at the moment consists solely of the homepage, which has a message from company CEO John Matze. “Now seems like the right time to remind you all — both lovers and haters — why we started this platform,” the message reads. “We believe privacy is paramount and free speech essential, especially on social media. Our aim has always been to provide a nonpartisan public square where individuals can enjoy and exercise their rights to both. We will resolve any challenge before us and plan to welcome all of you back soon. We will not let civil discourse perish!” 


Parler, however, was deplatformed in the first place explicitly because the content it allowed to flourish was anything but “civil,” and as multiple reports have made clear, the service backend was designed with basically no thought given to privacy. Meanwhile, the path Parler appears to be taking to rejoin the Internet is a shady one paved for it by other explicitly extremist, white nationalist platforms that lost access to more mainstream services after being tied to terrorism.

And there’s the fact that getting a service online that allegedly millions of people used minus the resources of a company like Amazon Web Services is going to be a sketchy proposition at best. Personally, I can’t see it happening. And if it does happen, it will likely be a very unstable platform to be on. But I guess we will see what happens.

Parler Takes One Step Towards Rebooting Itself….. With A Host That Is Home To Far Right Groups Among Other Sites

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 11, 2021 by itnerd

Well, fresh off of suing Amazon for punting them off the Internet, Parler has taken a step towards rebooting themselves. They have moved their domain name to a company named EPIK which does domain registration and hosting. Though they have many steps to take to fully get back online.

Here’s the thing about EPIK. They along with its CEO Robert Monster, has a history of coming to the defense of the far right online. For example, they host Gab which is a similar right wing social media site that I told you about earlier today. They also have a rather checked history, including:

So you see, Parler is in great company. If the company you keep are Neo-Nazi’s, conspiracy theorists, and right wing nut jobs. This can only end badly for them.