Parler came back online Sunday with a defiant message to the social network’s “lovers and haters.” Its new host appears to be Epik, a domain name registrar that has harbored other deplatformed cesspools like Gab, the Daily Stormer, and 8kun predecessor’s 8chan, thus cementing Parler, the self-proclaimed “world’s premier free speech platform,” in the online shit hole hall of fame.
Amazon Web Services gave Parler the boot on Jan. 10 in the wake of pro-Trump insurgents’ attack on the Capitol building to try to overturn the presidential election results. Parler did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but several outlets are reporting that the site has been scooped up by Epik. A WHOIS domain name search seems to back that up, showing that Parler has transferred its domain name registration to the company. That would track given Epik’s penchant for offering safe havens to toxic websites so full of hateful and violent content that no other web host would touch them with a 3.05 m pole. It currently hosts the social network du jour for white supremacists, Gab, and the neo-Nazi message board the Daily Stormer. Per Mashable, Epik also hosts the domain of the former website for the Proud Boys, a violent cohort of neo-fascists that federal authorities have labelled an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.”
Epik previously hosted 8chan, a largely unmoderated online imageboard that preceded 8kun, a platform most synonymous with the QAnon conspiracy movement. But the company finally dropped 8chan in August 2019 following the site’s connection to a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
Shortly after Parler’s ousting from AWS, Epik issued a statement decrying the “kneejerk reaction” from tech giants to cut ties with any platform that “on the surface looks problematic or controversial.” According to the site’s update logs, Parler transferred its domain to Epik on Monday, less than 24 hours after Amazon’s suspension. In its statement, Epik claims it had no contact with Parler about becoming their registrar or hosting provider.
Parler CEO John Matze posted a status update on the site Sunday that said “Hello world, is this thing on?” Beneath his message appeared an update regarding Parler’s technical difficulties and reiterating the platform’s commitment to free speech.
“Now seems like the right time to remind you all — both lovers and haters — why we started this platform. We believe privacy is paramount and free speech essential, especially on social media,” the update read. “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.”
The message ended with a promise to “not let civil discourse perish!” because Parler has one hell of a martyr complex. The company’s repeatedly painted itself as the only thing standing between free speech online and unilateral censorship, whether because that’s a tried-and-true tactic to whip its user base into a frenzy or because Parler higher-ups have genuinely deluded themselves into believing their own gospel.
Parler has vehemently denied that far-right extremists used its platform to help coordinate the attack on the Capitol, but a slew of screenshots and video evidence says otherwise. The PR fallout from purportedly hosting domestic terrorists’ schemes combined with Parler’s refusal to enforce sufficient moderation policies earned its app a ban from Google and Apple’s app store as well.