Rebekah Mercer “Wrote Checks” for Data Centers to Relaunch Parler

The social network’s early backer is funding most of its comeback after AWS pulled the plug for allowing incitement of violence.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

March 17, 2021

2 Min Read
Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Parler has been back online since about one month ago thanks to funding by Rebekah Mercer of the powerful Mercer family known for backing conservative causes, who’s been paying for data centers to host the social network’s application and the other costs necessary to keep it online.

Mercer backed Parler early on, but recordings of internal company calls obtained by Bloomberg show that she continues to be involved, providing most of the funds.

“We’ve written big checks these last couple of days to various parties with respect to the fact that we have now two data centers,” Jeffrey Wernick, a Parler investor and management committee member, said on one of the calls, held in February, according to Bloomberg’s report. “So far who’s writing the checks for all this stuff is Rebekah Mercer. So that’s the support she has for Parler.”

AWS, which used to provide computing infrastructure for Parler, pulled the plug on the application following the US Capitol riot on January 6. The social network was widely reported to have been the main online gathering place for people planning the deadly storm of the halls of Congress by an angry mob.

Google and Apple pulled the app from their respective mobile app stores.

The social network, which differentiates itself with loose content moderation policies, essentially allowing users to post content its competitors like Facebook and Twitter don’t allow – racist or homophobic comments, for example – went dark after losing AWS, which said Parler had violated its terms of service by allowing posts that incited violence.

It came back online in February, with previously existing user accounts restored but no ability for new users to sign up. Old content was not restored. The mobile app continues to be unavailable on Google Play and Apple App Store.

The resurrected version of Parler was hosted by SkySilk, a Los Angeles-based cloud hosting provider.

The call recordings leaked to Bloomberg indicate that Parler has adjusted its content moderation policy. It will now rely on an automated system to delete content that incites violence. Content targeting people based on race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, however, will not be removed. Instead it will be placed behind a warning, similar to the way Twitter warns users that a Tweet may contain misleading information.

Parler will not attempt to filter out misinformation, according to the report. “We are not going after misinformation in any way,” Amy Peikoff, its chief policy officer, said on one of the calls. “We are not being the arbiters of truth.”

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