Parler's Return to Apple App Store Labeled 'Pathetic' by Gab CEO Andrew Torba

The founder of free speech platform Gab has said rival website Parler "bent the knee to Big Tech" after Apple confirmed its app would be restored.

Andrew Torba, who runs Gab, criticized Parler in a series of posts on Monday after the news broke that it would be allowed back onto the iOS marketplace after updating how it moderates the content uploaded by users with artificial intelligence (AI).

Big Tech is a term commonly used to describe major U.S. tech and social media firms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

Torba wrote in a blog post: "It's a PR win for Apple, who hopes to get Republicans in Congress off their back. The Mercer's may see this as a win, but The People will not. Not the smart ones who see through the grift and pathetic weakness.

"The People want one thing: to speak freely online without permission from some billionaire oligarch—be it the Mercers or Mark Zuckerberg.

"They certainly don't want to be policed by AI. Parler had all the money in the world... mainstream support from Fox News, members of Congress, and the Conservative Inc Machine. None of it mattered. Getting back on the App Store won't matter either."

Parler was forced offline in January in the wake of the Capitol riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 after it emerged some users had posted about the siege ahead of it taking place. Amazon Web Services (AWS) suspended Parler's website, while Apple and Google removed its app from their marketplaces, citing policy violations.

It was previously reported that Parler was being bankrolled by the conservative donor Rebekah Mercer, who helped launch the website with John Matze in 2018.

Matze was terminated from his position of CEO in late January this year and has since filed a lawsuit against Parler and its current executives, accusing them of plotting to cheat him out of shares in the company and forcing him out of the business after he proposed moderation policies that may have helped restore its site and apps.

Bloomberg previously reported that Parler's new AI-based moderation system would be run by a company called Hive, which currently monitors and flags content on a slew of technology platforms, including the popular messageboard website Reddit.

Apple's senior director for government affairs—Timothy Powderly—wrote in a letter to Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) this week Apple anticipates "the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it."

Apple said its decision to remove Parler in January was an "independent decision" that was not coordinated with Google or Amazon. It said it stands by the decision.

On March 31, @SenMikeLee and I sent a letter demanding answers about why Apple removed Parler from the App Store.

🚨Today, we received a response: Parler will be reinstated on the App Store. Huge win for free speech.

— Congressman Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) April 19, 2021

In a statement to CNBC, Parler's interim CEO Mark Meckler said on Monday the social network had "put in place systems that will better detect unlawful speech."

Torba, who said his website wears its own Apple ban as a badge of honor, complained: "Parler bent the knee and Big Tech has them under their thumb. No amount of shilling by Fox News pundits is going to change that fact. No amount of money spent trying to bring people back to have their speech policed by some robot is going to work."

Parler logo
This illustration picture shows social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. The founder of free speech platform Gab has said rival website Parler “bent the knee to Big Tech” after Apple confirmed its app would be restored. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images