After Amazon suspended Parler's web hosting account following the Capitol protests, the conservative-leaning social network may have landed a new home with Epik. But whether the app will come back online remains unknown.
The alternative social media app registered its domain with Epik on Monday, according to public records. Epik, a domain registrar and web hosting service indicated in a statement it had no communications with Parler prior to the move.
Despite possibly having a new hosting platform, in a Wednesday interview with Reuters, Parler CEO John Matze said he didn't know when or if the service would return.
"It could be never," Matze said. "We don't know yet."
He suggested it would be best if Parler could get back on Amazon. Parler is suing Amazon Web Services for booting it from the hosting platform, which effectively kicked Parler offline. The app was accused of failing to police violent content. Apple and Google also barred Parler from their app stores.
On Monday, Epik, which hosts Gab, a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter, issued a statement that it had not had any conversations with Parler ahead of the move. The three-page statement continued, seemingly defending Parler and free speech, while blasting competitors like Facebook and Twitter.
"In terms of the eagerness by some to call for mass deplatforming and universal cancellations, it is becoming increasingly easy to demonize anyone who has different beliefs with no recognition of the actual effects and impact this can have on society," Senior Vice President of Communications for Epik Robert Davis wrote. "Vicious attack campaigns can be readily manufactured, online or offline, to promote a false public consensus. Without smarter discernment outside of a mob‐based judgment of instant convenience, the decisions we make now may ultimately be utilized to reduce liberties that many take for granted."
On Thursday, Epik issued another statement about the possibility of a future relationship with Parler. Davis reiterated that Epik had no prior knowledge of Parler's decision to move its domain name over and pointed out that anyone can set up an account.
"Millions of domains are registered and transferred every month, and generally speaking, the registrar has no oversight or active participation with the names that go in and out every day. Their core function is primarily a utilitarian one, to keep track of what domain names are available, and to provide an interface for access and management," Davis wrote in the four-page statement.
But since the Monday move by Parler to Epik, Davis said the two companies have engaged in discussions about "the future for their platform of more than 15 million members."
The statement called out Amazon Web Services for its "highly unusual move" to "simply terminate service, especially given their internal knowledge of what social platforms are having to contend with in recent weeks." Davis noted that social media networks have had to contend with "an unprecedented number of fake accounts being purposefully setup with the intent to publish horrific and violent content. So‐called ‘burner accounts' are set up simply so they can be engaged at a later date to diminish the voices of legitimate users. This manipulative practice on all social networks cannot be ignored."
Davis adds that Amazon's "unprecedented" decision to shut off service for 15 million Parler users "due to the actions of a few" should "frighten anyone."
The statement goes onto to hint that the future of Parler is still up in the air. Conversations between Parler and Epik have focused on "improvements in policy, rather than specific capabilities for hosting and service provision," Davis wrote.
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