Parler, a website that has branded itself as a free-speech medium, was facing slow service and occasional outages on Friday evening following the decision of its primary competitor, Twitter, to ban President Donald Trump from its platform.
According to internet tracking Is It Down Right Now, Parler was “having problems” and “suffering service disruption” shortly after 7 p.m. EST. One of the reasons listed by the website was that Parler was “probably overloaded” with traffic. However, Is It Down Right Now also noted that other reasons could be behind the issues, including network problems or server maintenance.
However, the theory that Parler has been inundated with new users appears the most likely in light of the bombshell news that Twitter had decided to permanently ban Trump from using its website following the riots that rocked Capitol Hill earlier this week. The president had been a prolific user of the platform and had amassed 88.7 million followers before his expulsion.
“In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action,” the company noted in a tweet on the matter.
The move comes following years of a strained relationship between Trump and several social media giants, with the former often often accusing Silicon Valley of a severe liberal bias.
Following the ban, many on the platform praised the decision, and #thankyoutwitter quickly began trending. However, others expressed their anger at the expulsion, noting that accounts belonging to actors such as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remain active despite policy violations.
This anti-Semitism from a world leader would seem to violate the twitter guidelines. https://t.co/hSygv5XRIY
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 1, 2020
Parler, meanwhile, had already seen massive surges in enrollment following the 2020 presidential election, and its user base more than doubled to 10 million in under a week in early November, per Reuters.
The company has been open about its commitment to free speech and has been seen both positively as a haven for conservative thought and negatively as a protector of hate speech. Though it was founded in 2018 in a bid to be a bipartisan enterprise, one of its largest investors is Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer.
“[CEO John Matze] and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,” Mercer wrote in a post.
“The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online.”
Though new users may be heading to Parler, they might not be able to enjoy it for long after Apple threatened to remove the app from its store earlier today, per USA Today.