Parler Surges on App Store as Founder Claims Victory Over 'Tech Tyrants'

Alternative social network Parler topped a segment of the iOS App Store chart this week after attracting high-profile conservative politicians.

Downloads surged this week in the U.S., with the iPhone application beating downloads of both Twitter and Reddit to take the top spot in the "News" category as of Thursday, according to metrics published by the tracking website AppAnnie.

Overall, the data shows Parler as 26th in the iOS App Store chart as of Thursday, ahead of Twitter but trailing Zoom, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Netflix.

Parler, pitched as a non biased and free speech-focused rival to mainstream platforms, has enjoyed a fresh wave of attention this week after being promoted by a variety of right-wing commentators, politicians and supporters of president Trump.

The platform is hosting some users who have previously been banned from Twitter and Facebook for violating rules, including Katie Hopkins, Alex Jones and Tommy Robinson. Parler has the support of Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Devin Nunes.

Roughly 500,000 new users signed up to the site this week, bringing the total number of users to about 1.5 million, metrics obtained by Mediaite has suggested.

Parler co-founder John Matze said in a post the app's status at the top of the iOS News chart was a "victory as a community for free speech over the tech tyrants."

"This is a symbol that we want a Town Square for free discussion. We the people do not want to be told what to think, we do not want to be manipulated, and we want our data to be private," he wrote, alongside a screenshot of the app's leading position.

"We reject... those who think they are the sole arbiters of truth. We reject their biased editorial panels, we reject their 'fact checkers' and we reject censorship."

Parler became a trending topic on Twitter this week after a meme-maker whose content was shared by the president last week was suspended over copyright violations.

On Tuesday, Twitter flagged a post shared by president Trump for breaking its "abusive behavior" policy, after previously hiding a different tweet for "glorifying violence."

Senator Ted Cruz released a video statement Thursday to announce that he was joining Parler, accusing mainstream tech firms of "unabashed political bias."

He said in the clip: "Big Tech is out of control, filled with hubris and flagrantly silencing those with whom they disagree with, from conservative media organizations to the President of the United States—and millions of Americans in between.

"These actions don't just threaten our First Amendment rights and free speech. They threaten the integrity of our elections and the future of our democracy."

He added: "[Parler] gets what free speech is all about, and I'm excited to be a part of it. Let's speak. Let's speak freely. And let's end the Silicon Valley censorship."

According to its website, Parler says its ultimate goal is "to offer the world a platform that protects user's rights, supports publishers and builds online communities."

Donald Trump
A supporter of US President-elect Donald Trump takes a photo on her smartphone at a get-out-the-vote rally on December 9, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images) DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty