This past Friday, Parler was removed from the Google and Apple app stores, and was notified by Amazon Web Services, the app’s data hosting provider, that it would be prohibited from utilizing the cloud storage service as of midnight January 11, 2021, making the future of the self-proclaimed “free speech” social networking site uncertain.
Below are the top 25 brands on Parler by post mention volume, prior to the anticipated AWS shutdown.
Parler was founded in 2018 by software engineer John Matze and Rebekah Mercer, daughter of hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer. The Mercers are also key financial benefactors to the Breitbart news and opinion site, as well as investors in the now-defunct data mining company, Cambridge Analytica.
Leading up to, during, and after the 2020 election, Parler was repeatedly the most downloaded free application on the Apple and Google app stores. Users have stated they moved some or all of their social posts and comments to the platform, in many cases, as a rebuke of other, larger social platforms.
The CEO of Parler, Matze, has stated in interviews that Parler has no content recommendation algorithms, requires very little data from users to sign up on the platform, and does not collect or retain user data for advertising.
At the same time, the small team developing the app (some estimates claim the company has less than 40 employees) has little ability to moderate content that would otherwise violate the terms of service of larger social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. This includes content that invokes violence, allows hate speech, and amplifies conspiracy theories.
While most of the media attention on Parler has been related to the political conversation, the election, and the insurrection last week, large amounts of content are also focused on major US brands, either on a stand-alone basis, or woven into political commentary.