Right-wing app Parler has been allowed back onto the Google Play Store after being banned over claims it helped incite violence at the Capitol Hill riots in January 2021, but Truth Social has not been so lucky.

The news comes as investment into social media companies seems to be slowing down, according to new data from research firm GlobalData.

Parler was launched back in 2018. It marketed itself as a space for free speech and an alternative to platform giants like Facebook and Twitter. It quickly became associated with those in support of then-US President Donald Trump. Trump himself was banned from Facebook and Twitter on the back of the Capitol Hill insurrection.

Many journalists have criticised Parler for being a space for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists. In 2020, NBC News reported that the app was banning liberal users.

Like the recently rejected Trump’s Truth Social app, Google banned Parler for its lack of moderation to prohibit hateful and violent content from its users. The timing could, however, work against Parler.

The months leading up to the US mid-terms could be a particularly dangerous time for Parler to be re-introduced to the app store,” Lil Read, senior analyst at GlobalData, tells Verdict.

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“Parler’s changes to its content moderation must be of the highest standard before it can, in any reasonably good conscience, be allowed back on the Google Play Store.”

The right-wing app was reinstated to Apple’s App Store four months ago after it agreed to tidy up some posts and look for hate speech on its iOS version.

The fact that Google has accepted the app back onto the platform probably means Parler has made similar changes to its Android app.

Former CEO Mark Meckler said in an emailed statement at the time: “The entire Parler team has worked hard to address Apple’s concerns without compromising our core mission.

“Anything allowed on the Parler network but not in the iOS app will remain accessible through our web-based and Android versions. This is a win-win for Parler, its users, and free speech.”

The right-wing app celebrated its return to Android phones in a tweet on Friday: “MAJOR NEWS: We’re BACK on the Google Play Store!

“Happy downloading, Android users!”

Christina Cravens, Parler’s marketing chief, said: “Parler has a strong commitment to free speech and despite the market duopoly, is working to provide options and choices for the millions of voices currently being censored or suppressed based on their viewpoint.”

Trump’s Truth Social remains pleading for Google’s approval

Truth Social, a conservative-focused Twitter copycat created by Trump, is still working on getting Google to let it on to the Play Store.

Google announced they were blocking the app last week as it was not meeting the necessary standards to be listed.

Devin Nunes, a former US representative and Truth Social CEO, has reportedly been pleading with Google to reverse the decision, The Independent reports.

Nunes said in a Newsmax interview that the platform was “family-friendly” and went as far as to say, “there is not a cleaner platform than Truth Social.”

Google noted that Truth Social is aware of the need to have effective moderation systems to appear on its marketplace and says the platform is “working on addressing these issues.”

Social media investment slumps after record year

The news about Parler's return and Truth Social failing to get on Android devices comes on the back of a period of exponential growth for the social media industry. 

The amount of money raised by venture capitalists in social media has been growing at a steady rate since 2012.

Venture capital social media deals in 2021 totalled over $10bn compared to just $309m in 2012, according to GlobalData.

Despite the heavy growth in money raised, the actual number of deals made has stayed mostly level over the decade. 

In 2012 the number of venture capital deals made totalled 130, compared to 385 in 2018 and 300 in 2021. 

While 2021 proved a record year for VC investment into the social media industry, it looks like the money flow into the sector has slowed in 2022.

As of September 5, 2022, the industry has only north of $2.7bn across 165 deals so far, a far cry from the levels recorded in 2021. 

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.