Parler app risks charges of selling out with Apple return

Parler is returning to Apple’s App Store after making some changes demanded by the company, but the social media platform popular with conservatives is facing accusations of selling out to Big Tech and risks losing some of its key user base.

Parler rose in popularity after the 2020 election, boosted by high-profile conservative figures who railed against mainstream platforms’ content moderation policies. After a nearly four-month ban, prompted by Parler posts surrounding the deadly riot at the Capitol, the app is set to relaunch in the App Store this week.

“It will be interesting to see whether or not … there will be the same drive for people to join Parler this time around,” said Bret Schafer, Alliance for Securing Democracy’s media and digital disinformation fellow.

Apple’s confirmation last week to top Republicans on the House and Senate antitrust subcommittees that it will let Parler back in the App Store with approved content moderation changes was cheered by the lawmakers.

But Andrew Torba, CEO and founder of fringe social media platform Gab — billed as “The Free Speech Social Network” — wrote a blog post blasting the return. And users on Gab criticized Parler for what they said was selling out, pledging not to come back.