Parler, a self-described “unbiased” alternative to mainstream social media networks, is being purchased by a company that will temporarily shut down the platform ahead of a planned relaunch. A statement posted to Parler’s website on Friday reveals that its parent company Parlement Technologies has agreed to sell the platform to digital media company Starboard (previously known as Olympic Media) for an undisclosed sum, with the deal expected to be finalized by “the end of Q2, 2023.”
Starboard disclosed that the platform will be pulled to undergo a “strategic assessment,” and it suggested Parlement had made the right move in pivoting to cloud services last year. “No reasonable person believes that a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business any more,” the statement says. But it says its newly acquired platform could serve “marginalized or even outright censored communities” and potentially focus on appeal “beyond domestic politics” while benefiting from the user base Parler accrued.
Parler has previously been pulled from services over safety and content moderation concerns
Neither company has explicitly stated that the social media network would immediately cease its current operations; however, the website is currently inaccessible due to the acquisition statement issued by Starboard. The iOS app for Parler is also throwing up 404 errors when you attempt to sign up for an account, and the statement notes that “the Parler app as it is currently constituted will be pulled down from operation.” Starboard has not disclosed when it plans to relaunch the service.
Favored by far-right conservatives for its promises to promote “free speech,” Parler has faced multiple controversies since it was founded in 2018. The service was allegedly among those used to plan the January 6th insurrection and was pulled (and later restored) by multiple services such as Google Play, Amazon Web Services, and the Apple App Store over concerns about the largely unmoderated violent content being posted to the platform. Parler had attempted (and failed) to sue Amazon for shutting down its services, arguing that doing so would be like “pulling the plug on a hospital patient on life support.”
Conservatively focused social media networks are failing to compete with mainstream alternatives
Parlement Technologies has made previous attempts to sell Parler to prevent its reputation from affecting further business interests. Kanye West, now legally known as Ye, notably entered an agreement to purchase the platform in October last year. The company announced it had “mutually agreed” to terminate the deal on December 1st, the same day that West praised Hitler and Nazis on a show hosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, appearing alongside white supremacist Nick Fuentes. Parler has since laid off around 75 percent of its employees in January earlier this year, including a majority of the company’s executives.