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After a Year in Exile, Parler Is Back on the Web. But Why?

Parler is back, baby. After a year-long hiatus from the web, the conservative social media site has returned to the internet, and this time its new owners are promising it won’t become the radical rightwing hellscape it was when it left.

Parler has been offline since last April when it was bought by a media conglomerate and was subsequently shut down in the hopes of revamping and resurrecting it. Prior to its procurement, the site had been struggling. This week, as part of its new glowup, the app returned to the Apple App Store, and is expected to get back on Google Play at some point soon, the new owners told Wired.

Parler’s new owners are former Parler executive, Elise Pierotti, and Ryan Rhodes, who will serve as the site’s new CEO. Pierotti and Rhodes are brother and sister, Wired reports. The site’s other new owner is a man named Jaco Booyens, who CNBC reports is an “anti-sex trafficking activist.”

Parler has certainly seen its ups and downs. Originally launched in 2018 as a “free speech” app, it soon became known as a conservative version of Twitter. After seeing an initial surge in popularity during the waning years of the Trump administration, the app was basically kicked off the internet for a brief period in the days following the January 6th riot. Critics blamed the app for a spike in rightwing radicalization associated with the violent riot. While there’s a strong argument that Parler did play a role, later research has shown that other social media platforms—like Facebook and Twitter—also played significant roles.

After the J6 debacle, the site lived on for another two-ish years but saw diminishing financial returns. In 2022, Kanye West almost bought the platform but the deal was botched and Ye took his talents elsewhere. Then, in April of last year, a media conglomerate called Starboard bought Parler and shuttered it on the same day. Starboard said that it planned to shut down the site until it could be restructured into a new kind of platform. The site subsequently went offline and has been defunct ever since then.

Parler’s new owners told Wired that they’re not interested in allowing the site to devolve into a cesspool of violent extremism again, and want to create a space that’s more amenable to discussion of all stripes. “The original idea behind Parler that people gravitated to as a free-speech platform brought successes,” Rhodes told Wired. “There was a lot of things that did not allow it to be what it could have been. Our goal is to make Parler what it could have been, as a true open platform for everybody to have discourse, right or left.”

Gizmodo reached out to Parler for more details about its revival and will update this story if it responds.

You could argue that it’d be difficult for Parler to corner the rightwing extremist market now since Elon Musk’s rebooted version of Twitter (or, X, as Musk calls it) seems to have already done that. Ever since Musk bought Twitter, rebranded it, and fired pretty much all of its content moderators, the site has become a veritable free-for-all, and right-wing conspiracy theories and hateful content have been allowed to run free. Now that Twitter seems a lot like the original version of Parler, it’d be appropriate if Parler became a lot like the original version of Twitter.

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