Parler says it’s back without “Big Tech” after being kicked off Amazon
Parler.com is getting back online after being kicked off Amazon’s hosting service, with the controversial social network saying it no longer relies on “Big Tech” for its Web infrastructure. A Parler announcement today said its relaunched website is “built on sustainable, independent technology and not reliant on so-called ‘Big Tech’ for its operations.”
Amazon cut off Parler’s Web-hosting service on January 10, a few days after a Trump-incited mob stormed the US Capitol, saying that “Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety.” Parler sued Amazon in response, but a federal judge denied Parler’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have forced Amazon to reinstate its services.
Now, Parler is using hosting services from a company called SkySilk. Parler said its site is available this week only to users who already had accounts. New users, on the other hand, will be able to sign up next week. While existing users can now log in to Parler, their old posts have been removed from the site, TechCrunch reported.
“When Parler was taken offline in January by those who desire to silence tens of millions of Americans, our team came together, determined to keep our promise to our highly engaged community that we would return stronger than ever. We’re thrilled to welcome everyone back,” Parler interim CEO Mark Meckler said in the announcement. “Parler is being run by an experienced team and is here to stay. We will thrive as the premier social media platform dedicated to free speech, privacy, and civil dialogue.” (Meckler, who co-founded the Tea Party Patriots in 2009, replaced recently fired CEO John Matze as head of Parler.)
Amazon said in a court filing that it cut Parler off because of its “demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of Amazon Web Services content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”
In new Parler posts today, Parler’s official account said, “We will not be canceled,” while Meckler wrote, “Parler is live and it feels so good!” Here is a screenshot:
Parler traffic on a new path
Parler traffic is going through a data center in Ohio run by CloudRoute and from there to a SkySilk data center in Los Angeles, where SkySilk exchanges Internet traffic with NTT. This is confirmed by traceroutes from tens of major cities distributed throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. We contacted NTT today and will update this article if we get a response.
CloudRoute and SkySilk seem to be connected in some way and may ultimately be part of the same company. CloudRoute CEO Andre Temnorod denied or downplayed any connection, telling The New York Times that “SkySilk is our customer and Parler is SkySilk’s customer.” However, Whois information lists Temnorod’s email and other CloudRoute email addresses as contacts for SkySilk. SkySilk CEO Kevin Matossian “confirmed to NPR that the company is providing Web hosting services to Parler,” according to NPR reporter Bobby Allyn.
CloudRoute is described by Scamalytics as “a potentially high fraud risk ISP,” with about 56 percent of traffic from the ISP “suspected to be potentially fraudulent.” We contacted CloudRoute and SkySilk today and will update this article if we get any response.
CloudRoute bills itself as a partner of Microsoft, but that doesn’t necessarily mean any Parler.com content is hosted on Microsoft’s cloud services. Parler has been a user of Microsoft Office 365 for email, and Microsoft employees reportedly debated last month whether it should stop providing the service to Parler. We contacted Microsoft today and will update this article if we get a response.
Parler.com last month moved its domain to Epik, a domain registrar that also provides service to Gab, which is known for hosting anti-Semitic content. Parler at one point last month was using services from the Russian company DDoS-Guard but apparently isn’t anymore.
As reported last week, a congressional oversight committee is investigating whether Parler has financial ties to Russian entities, saying the social network “allowed Russian disinformation to flourish” before the 2020 US election. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is also looking into a BuzzFeed report that Parler offered the Trump Organization a 40 percent ownership stake in exchange for then-President Donald Trump making Parler his primary social network. The negotiations “were ultimately derailed by the events of January 6,” that report said.
Parler’s Community Guidelines said, “We prefer that removing users or user-provided content be kept to the absolute minimum” and that Parler’s policies are “viewpoint-neutral.” However, the guidelines say that “Parler will not knowingly allow itself to be used as a tool for crime, civil torts, or other unlawful acts. We will remove reported user content that a reasonable and objective observer would believe constitutes or evidences such activity. We may also remove the accounts of users who use our platform in this way.”
Ars Technology Reporter Jim Salter contributed to this report.