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Conservative social network Parler taken offline by Amazon ban

Updated Dec 2nd, 2022 10:14AM EST
Parler Offline
Image: Urupong/Adobe

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  • Social network Parler is offline as Amazon banned it from its servers, following Google and Apple bans of the mobile Parler app.
  • Parler has become increasingly more popular with conspiracy theorists and right-wing activists, including people who may have used the network to coordinate the assault on the Capitol building on January 6th.
  • In the wake of the attack, some Parler members continued to incite violence and called for additional violent actions against Washington DC before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Twitter permanently banned Trump’s account after last week’s attack on the Capitol, just as Facebook announced similar measures. Parler, a social network that has seen an increase in popularity among right-wing activists, was removed from the Play Store on Friday. Google explained the app lacked a mechanism to moderate content in the wake of the events in Washington DC. “We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US,” Google said at the time.

Apple followed suit, taking Parler off the App Store on Saturday. Apple gave Parler 24 hours on Friday to mitigate the “planning of illegal and dangerous activities” on its social network or face a complete ban. “We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity,” Apple said in a statement. On the same day, Amazon notified Parler that it would stop hosting the app on its Amazon Web Services (AWS), citing the same reasons as the other tech giants. The ban went into effect on Sunday before midnight, so Parler is inaccessible right now on any platform, including the web, iPhone, and Android.

News of Amazon’s removal was first reported by BuzzFeed News. The AWS Trust and Safety team told Parler Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff in an email that the calls for violence propagating on Parler after the insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday violated its terms of service.

“Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms,” the email reads. “It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service.”

In response to Amazon’s notification, Parler CEO John Matze said in a blog post that the app “will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch.”

“We prepared for events like this by never relying on amazons [sic] proprietary
infrastructure and building bare metal products,” he said, accusing the big tech companies of a “coordinated attack” to kill competition in the market place.

Parler users went on the social network to coordinate the attack on Washington DC, spreading hate in the process. Comments that followed the attack on Wednesday included more violence, with some people inciting “Patriots” to storm Washington DC with weapons on January 19th. Parler threads have also called for Vice President Mike Pence’s execution and propagated conspiracy theories that said left-wing antifa activists were responsible for the January 6th events. Amazon’s email to Parler contained examples that included calls for the assassination of lawmakers, media members, and activists.

Amazon’s letter to Parler follows below, with Parler screenshots from the email available over on BuzzFeed.

Dear Amy,

Thank you for speaking with us earlier today.

As we discussed on the phone yesterday and this morning, we remain troubled by the repeated violations of our terms of service. Over the past several weeks, we’ve reported 98 examples to Parler of posts that clearly encourage and incite violence. Here are a few examples below from the ones we’ve sent previously: [See images above.]

Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms. It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service. It also seems that Parler is still trying to determine its position on content moderation. You remove some violent content when contacted by us or others, but not always with urgency. Your CEO recently stated publicly that he doesn’t “feel responsible for any of this, and neither should the platform.” This morning, you shared that you have a plan to more proactively moderate violent content, but plan to do so manually with volunteers. It’s our view that this nascent plan to use volunteers to promptly identify and remove dangerous content will not work in light of the rapidly growing number of violent posts. This is further demonstrated by the fact that you still have not taken down much of the content that we’ve sent you. Given the unfortunate events that transpired this past week in Washington, D.C., there is serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence.

AWS provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum, and we continue to respect Parler’s right to determine for itself what content it will allow on its site. However, we cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others. Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST. We will ensure that all of your data is preserved for you to migrate to your own servers, and will work with you as best as we can to help your migration.

– AWS Trust & Safety Team

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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