Parler's Found A New Host (And A New CEO)… For Now
from the ah-look-at-that dept
On Monday Parler announced to the world that it was back with a new host (and a new interim CEO after the board fired founder and CEO John Matze a few weeks ago). The “board” is controlled by the (until recently, secret) other founder: Rebekah Mercer, who famously also funded Cambridge Analytica, a company built upon sucking up social media data and using it to influence elections. When Matze was fired, he told Reuters that the company was being run by two people since he’d been removed: Matthew Richardson and Mark Meckler.
Richardson has many ties to the Mercers, and was associated with Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit effort. Meckler was, for a few years, considered one of the founding players and leading spokespeople for the “Tea Party” movement in the US, before splitting with that group and pushing for a new Constitutional Convention (at times in a “strange bedfellows” way with Larry Lessig). With the news on Monday that Parler was back up (sort of), it was also announced that Meckler had taken over as interim CEO.
Given the role of Meckler, Richardson, and Mercer, you can bet that the site is still pushing to be the Trumpiest of social media sites. As for who is actually the new hosting firm, there’s been some confusion in the press. The twitter account @donk_enby, who famously scraped and archived most of the older Parler before it was shut down by Amazon last month, originally said Parler’s new hosting firm was CloudRoute, who it appears may just be a Microsoft Azure reseller of some kind. In a later tweet, @donk_enby mentions that another firm, SkySilik, seems to share an IP space with CloudRoute, perhaps renting IP addresses from CloudRoute.
SkySilk, a Web infrastructure company based outside of Los Angeles, is now hosting Parler, SkySilk’s chief executive, Kevin Matossian, confirmed to NPR.
“SkySilk is well aware that Parler has received an aggressive response from those who believe their platform has been used as a safe haven for some bad actors,” Matossian said in a statement. “Let me be clear, Skysilk does not advocate nor condone hate, rather, it advocates the right to private judgment and rejects the role of being the judge, jury, and executioner.”
He said while the company many disagree with some of Parler’s content, he believes the company is taking “necessary steps” to monitor its platform.
“Once again, this is not a matter of SkySilk endorsing the message, but rather, the right of the messenger to deliver it. SkySilk will support Parler in their efforts to be a nonpartisan Public Square as we are convinced this is the only appropriate course of action,” he said in a statement.
Nonpartisan, eh? Remember, Parler has a long history of taking down “leftist” accounts and bragging about it. Bizarrely, SkySilk’s CEO is… also a Hollywood film producer.
Separately, it appears that the new Parler is not using the Russian service “DDoSGuard” for DDoS protection. It had been using it for some time while it had a placeholder page up, but that appears to no longer be the case.
Reports, including the NPR report linked here, note that the new Parler says that it will moderate content, using “an algorithm and human moderators” to take down content “that threatens or incites violence.” It also promises that there will be an appeals process for moderated content. The moderation will also include a “trolling filter” that will apparently hide, but not remove, “content that attacks someone based on race, sex, sexual orientation or religion.” People who wish to view such content can do so by clicking through.
All of the old content appears to have been wiped out, though the old accounts remain. There are also lots of reports claiming that the site is struggling to stay up (indeed, as I type this it appears to be down again).
This certainly seems somewhat shaky, at best, and it will be fun to watch and see if a random “cloud hosting” firm, run by a small time Hollywood producer, that almost no one has heard of, can actually handle this kind of traffic and attention.