Parler: Amazon to remove site from web hosting service

2 weeks ago
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Parler app

Reuters

Amazon is removing “free speech” social network Parler from its web hosting service for violating rules.

If Parler fails to find a new web hosting service by Sunday evening, the entire network will go offline.

Parler styles itself as an “unbiased” social media and has proved popular with people banned from Twitter.

Amazon told Parler it had found 98 posts on the site that encouraged violence. Apple and Google have removed the app from their stores.

Launched in 2018, Parler has proved particularly popular among supporters of US President Donald Trump and right-wing conservatives. Such groups have frequently accused Twitter and Facebook of unfairly censoring their views.

While Mr Trump himself is not a user, the platform already features several high-profile contributors following earlier bursts of growth in 2020.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz boasts 4.9 million followers on the platform, while Fox News host Sean Hannity has about seven million.

The move comes after Apple suspended Parler from its app store. The suspension will remain in place for as long as the network continued to spread posts that incite violence, it said.

Responding to Google’s move earlier, Parler’s chief executive John Matze said: “We won’t cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!”

It briefly became the most-downloaded app in the United States after the US election, following a clampdown on the spread of election misinformation by Twitter and Facebook.

In a letter obtained by CNN, Amazon’s AWS Trust and Safety team told Parler’s Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff that the social network “does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service”.

“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 letter said.

“However we cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others.”.

Parler will be removed from Amazon’s web hosting service shortly before midnight on Sunday Pacific Standard Time (07:59 GMT on Monday).

On Saturday, Apple removed Parler from its app store after warning the network to remove content that violated its rules or face a ban.

“Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety”, it said in a statement announcing the app’s suspension on Saturday evening.

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Analysis: Necessary or draconian action?

By Shayan Sardarizadeh, BBC Monitoring

For months, Parler has been one of the most popular social media platforms for right-wing users.

As major platforms began taking action against viral conspiracy theories, disinformation and the harassment of election workers and officials in the aftermath of the US presidential vote, the app became more popular with elements of the fringe far-right.

This turned the network into a right-wing echo chamber, almost entirely populated by users fixated on revealing examples of election fraud and posting messages in support of attempts to overturn the election outcome.

In the days preceding the Capitol riots, the tone of discussion on the app became significantly more violent, with some users openly discussing ways to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory by Congress.

Unsubstantiated allegations and defamatory claims against a number of senior US figures such as Chief Justice John Roberts and Vice-President Mike Pence were rife on the app.

Google and Apple say they are taking necessary action to ensure violent rhetoric is not promoted on their platforms.

However, to those increasingly concerned about freedom of speech and expression on online platforms, it represents another example of draconian action by major tech companies which threatens internet freedom.

This is a debate which is certain to continue beyond the Trump presidency.

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