Twitter Competitor Parler In Limbo After Massive Layoffs At Parent Firm

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By Jeffrey Gogo

Illustrative image of human hand with mobile device showing logo for the social media platform Parler with American flag visible in background, Lafayette, California, January 21, 2021. Parler has said it has about 16.5 million registered users. Website analytics company SimilarWeb reports that Parler’s total monthly site visits dropped from 2.3 million in September 2022 to 1.2 million in November. SMITH COLLECTION/METANEWS

Parlement Technologies reportedly cut dozens of jobs across the company in December, a move that has cast doubt on the future of its free speech social media network Parler.


Around 75% of the employees were sacked between November and December last year, The Verge reported, quoting sources familiar with the matter. Only a total of about 20 employees remained working at both Parler and Parlement Technologies’ cloud services unit, it said.

The massive layoffs involved most of the company’s top management including its chief technology, operations, and marketing officers, according to the report. It is not clear how many people have continued to work directly on the Parler social media network.

“These layoffs continued through at least the end of December, when around 75 percent of staffers were let go in total, leaving approximately 20 employees left working at both Parler and the parent company’s cloud services venture,” the report said. “A majority of the company’s executives, including its chief technology, operations, and marketing officers, have also been laid off, according to a source familiar with the matter.”

The Verge report said it isn’t clear “how many people are currently employed to work on the Parler social media platform or where it’s headed from here.” We contacted Parler today and will update this article if we get a response.

Founded by John Matze and Jared Thomson in 2018, Parler has positioned itself as a non-partisan, free speech alternative to Facebook and Twitter with fewer restrictions on what people can say.

It says that its “goal [is] to provide an unbiased platform where users can engage in civil discourse without fear of ideological censorship.”

Conservative political donor and Parler investor Rebekah Mercer previously said she started the network in response to the “ever-increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords.”

As MetaNews reported recently, Parler has seen the total number of people visiting its platform swelling to 1.7 million in November from 1.3 million three months earlier. The growth has continued since the platform’s early days, when it registered 7,000 new users per minute in November 2020.

The app works just like Twitter, allowing users to share short messages, links, and photos of their followers. Users can comment on and upvote posts, known as “parleys.” They also have access to a range of topics including entertainment, politics and sport.

Parler has said it has about 16.5 million registered users. Website analytics company SimilarWeb reportsthat Parler’s total monthly site visits dropped from 2.3 million in September 2022 to 1.2 million in November while Truth Social’s monthly visits ranged from 8 million to 10.9 million during those three months. Visitors to Truth Social also spent more time on the site and viewed more pages than visitors to Parler.

Supporters of former U.S. president Donald Trump used Parler to plan and chronicle the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the seat of the American government. After the violent conversations, Apple and Google banned Parler from their app stores.

Indigenous people, supporters of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, Â take part in a protest against President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, for freedom and against censorship in Brasília, Brazil, December 10, 2022. Parler has been a platform against censorship from big tech social media giants including Twitter & Meta (Facebook). MATEUS BONOMI/METANEWS

Amazon, which hosted the Parler site, discontinued the service. The social network has now been reinstated by both Apple and Google but runs on its own cloud servers.

“This week marks two years since Amazon Web Services, following closely behind Google and Apple, took burgeoning Twitter competitor Parler, which had been number one in Apple’s App Store, offline,” Amy Peikoff, Parler head of legal policy, wrote in a Jan. 11 blog post.

“What has become incontrovertible only recently, thanks to Elon Musk’s release of the ‘Twitter Files,’ is evidence pointing to the actual motivation behind Parler’s deplatforming: the desire to bury all the uncensored content that Parler allowed to be shared on the web. Remember Hunter Biden’s laptop? The Wuhan lab-leak?…” she averred.

“This week marks two years since Amazon Web Services, following closely behind Google and Apple, took burgeoning Twitter competitor @parler_app—which had been number one in Apple’s App Store—offline. The reason given was the platform’s alleged contribution,” said Amy Peikoff on Twitter.

Parler accused of stifling free speech

In a cruel twist of fate, John Matze was fired as CEO of Parler in Jan. 2021. After that, Matze accused the company he helped found on the promise of free speech of trying to muzzle him.

He was fired allegedly for violating the terms of his agreement by divulging inside company information to the media as well as attacking Parler publicly.

“That’s not the vision I had for the company,” Matze told USA Today then. “These people just want to censor me. Obviously, my statement about their vision not aligning with mine must be true considering they are trying to stop me from speaking my mind.”

Based on the timeline reported by The Verge, the layoffs began about two weeks after Parlement Technologies ended a deal to sell Parler to Ye (formerly Kanye West). Ye and Parlement announced the acquisition deal on October 17, with Ye saying he would protect “conservative opinions” on the site. Ye struck the deal with Parler after his antisemitic posts got him locked out of Twitter and Instagram.

But Parlement announced the termination of the deal after Ye praised Nazis and said, “I like Hitler” during an appearance on Alex Jones’ Infowars show. Ye’s Hitler comments were made on December 1, but Parlement issued a statement saying the “mutual” decision to terminate the deal “was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November.”

 

Produced in association with MetaNews.

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