Amazon informed Parler, which boasts of taking a hands-off policy to content moderation, of the imminent loss of its internet hosting services on Saturday. That came after Apple and Google banned Parler from their respective app stores, also citing Parler’s inaction on policing violent and harmful content. On Friday, Twitter banned Donald Trump permanently while the president’s accounts on other internet services have been suspended indefinitely in the wake of Wednesday’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Unless Parler is quickly able to find a new hosting provider, the app and site will go offline later Sunday. In explaining the decision, Amazon said it found nearly 100 examples of violent threats posted on the far-right social app. News of AWS’s move to drop Parler was first reported by BuzzFeed News.
“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,” the Amazon notice to Parler said in part. “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 11:59 PM PST.”
Parler CEO John Matze — who briefly worked at Amazon’s AWS division in 2017 as a software engineer, according to his LinkedIn profile — confirmed that Amazon told his company they are shutting off its hosting services.
“Sunday (tomorrow) at midnight Amazon will be shutting off all of our servers in an attempt to completely remove free speech off the internet,” Matze wrote in a Saturday evening post on Parler.
Parler may be unavailable “for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch,” he wrote, adding, “We prepared for events like this by never relying on amazons proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products.” Matze also alleged that the actions taken against Parler are a “coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace.”
In an earlier post, Matze wrote, “Do my former co-workers at AWS realize calls to violence are against our TOS [terms of service]… What are you trying to accomplish? Right now people are suppose[d] to come together, calls to cancel people and remove free speech will radicalize people more.”
The AWS notice to Parler’s chief policy officer, Amy Peikoff, included screengrabs of posts on the app that “clearly encourage and incite violence” included references to executions by firing squad as well as comments encouraging “patriots” to bring weapons to Washington, D.C., for president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Parler had informed AWS that it was enforcing its guidelines with a team of volunteers. In its letter, Amazon said, “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.”