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Controversial social media site Parler to return in 2024

By Jennifer Korn, CNN

(CNN) — The controversial social media platform Parler says it’s planning a comeback after shuttering in April following a string of controversies related to hate speech rules and illicit content.

Parler is relaunching in the first quarter of 2024 to “return to its roots as a robust marketplace of ideas,” according to a company statement, emerging just as the 2024 presidential race amps up.

Launched in 2018 and popular with conservative audiences in its prime, Parler also found a fan base among users frustrated by speech rules on more mainstream platforms like Twitter. In that era, Twitter had removed numerous user accounts for violating its policies on speech, banning far-right figures such as Andrew Tate, Alex Jones and even President Donald Trump.

Amid some normal social media discussions and behavior, the site also became an arena for forms of hate speech and misinformation, including election denial claims.

Accounts with swastikas as their profile pictures and racist posts were common, and members of the Proud Boys, adherents of conspiracy theory QAnon, anti-government extremists and white supremacists all openly promoted their views on Parler, according to a 2020 ADL report.

The platform was only shunned by major app stores after rioters used it as a platform to plan the Jan. 6th Capitol attacks. “We prefer not to continue to be associated with the events of January 6th,” company spokeswoman Elise Pierotti said in a statement to CNN.

At the time, Parler lacked key content moderation systems including ways for users to report objectionable content and the ability to remove users who violated the app’s terms of service, Google said last year.

Both Apple and Google kicked Parler off their stores, while Amazon moved to remove the site from its web hosting service.

Apple and Google both eventually allowed the company back into their stores, with Apple in April 2021 reinstating it and Google in September 2022. Both companies cited improvements to content moderation methods.

Parler’s user base had plummeted, however.

Comscore data analyzed by The Righting shows Parler attracted just 137,000 unique visitors in August 2022, a dramatic plunge from the 12.3 million it had in January 2021 surrounding the Capitol attack.

“No one goes there for a dialogue on conservative ideas,” CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem pointed out on-air in October 2022. “They go there to find equally-minded hate.”

Controversy also surrounded Parler in October 2022 when Kanye West announced he would be purchasing the site after antisemitic comments got the rapper’s Twitter account temporary locked, though the deal quickly fell through.

Parler now also faces a few competitors. In November of 2022, Elon Musk acquired Twitter and has since renamed it as X, letting several far-right figures back on the platform such as Alex Jones and Andrew Tate. Trump started his own social media platform called Truth Social in 2022.

Other platforms such as Mastodon, Spill and Bluesky launched in recent years, aiming to draw some of the journalists, moderates and progressive users that grew less comfortable on X. And Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta launched Threads in 2023, aiming to compete with X and all the other players.

Digital media firm Starboard then acquired the platform in April and closed it down for a “strategic assessment.” Parler was recently acquired by Texas-based PDS Partners, the firm leading its rebirth. The original founders chose the name “Parler,” a French word that means “to speak.”

“Our primary goal with this relaunch is to return Parler to its original vision—a marketplace of ideas open to everyone,” Pierotti said.

CNN’s Kaya YurieffDonie O’Sullivan, Brian Fung and Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.

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