What Is Epik? Parler Domain Finds New Home In Far Right's Preferred Hosting Service

After major online service providers cut ties with Parler following last week's Capitol riots, the controversial social network has transferred its domain to Epik, a domain registrar and web hosting service known to host far-right platforms.

Parler, which bills itself as an online haven for free speech, is popular with conservatives, far-right groups and conspiracy theorists due to its lack of content moderation. Following the storming of the Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, Parler was widely criticized as a breeding ground for unfiltered hate speech and dangerous rhetoric. The Capitol attack, which left five dead, is believed to have been planned on the platform.

On Sunday, Amazon Web Services suspended Parler's web hosting account—effectively deactivating it—while Apple and Google removed it from their app stores.

According to ICANN's domain registration database, Parler registered its domain to Washington-based Epik on Monday.

Epik released a statement that day denying any "contact or discussions" with Parler regarding "becoming their registrar or hosting provider." The company also criticized the "deplatforming" of Parler, as well as the "battle between oversized monopolies and smaller platforms."

In the statement, Epik spoke of its efforts to "remove literally millions of threads of harmful content online" and its "role in preventing violence and malicious targeting of others."

Epik is known to host far-right platforms dropped by major providers over their extremist content. In addition to having registered the domain name of fringe social network Gab, the company at one point hosted the domain of controversial online message board 8chan.

Epik cut ties with 8chan in 2019 following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, which was linked to violent rhetoric espoused by the platform's users. According to Mashable, Epik also hosted the Proud Boys' former domain.

PayPal terminated Epik's account last October for violating its "risk controls." In an open letter to PayPal employees, Epik Senior Vice President for Strategy and Communications Robert Davis accused the online payment company of "abuse of power and overreach" and of engaging in a "direct effort to silence conservative voices."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Epik's CEO Rob Monster joined Gab in November 2018 and interacted with "a menagerie of racist, misogynist and anti-Semitic talking heads." During an appearance on a white nationalist podcast in January 2019, Monster praised white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke as "a pretty clever guy" who is "articulate" and "knows history."

When contacted by Newsweek for comment, Davis said Parler's choice to move its domain name to Epik as a registrar is "absolutely their right."

"Parler is a story of BigTech corruption, and the depths some will go to control the narrative to preserve the power of a very few select operators," Davis said. "This obsession to brand anything outside of that as Nazis, supremacists, white nationalists and now terrorists is just sick."

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— DreamHost (@DreamHost) January 10, 2021
Social media network Parler displayed on computer
Social media network Parler is displayed on a computer screen in Arlington, Virginia on July 2, 2020. After Amazon Web Services suspended Parler's account, the network registered its domain with a company that has hosted far-right platforms. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images