Parler Goes Offline After Amazon, Google, Apple Cut It From Their Platforms

The popular social networking site has been used by right-wing extremists and Trump supporters who have encouraged violence, including at last week’s attack on the Capitol.

This illustration of social media app logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone. The social networking app has attracted conservatives and pro-Trump extremists. | Getty Images
This illustration of social media app logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone. The social networking app has attracted conservatives and pro-Trump extremists. | Getty Images

Social networking site Parler, a known haven for President Trump’s most fervent supporters, has gone offline after Amazon kicked the website off of its platform. The move comes after Apple and Google both removed Parler from its app stores. 

In an email sent to Parler Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff on Saturday and obtained by BuzzFeed News, Amazon said it would terminate Parler from its website hosting service Amazon Web Services, effective Sunday night. As of Monday, the web version of Parler showed an error message.

Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Monday, claiming that it violated antitrust laws and requesting that the website be restored. In a statement on Monday, an Amazon spokesperson told NowThis "there is no merit to these claims." 

"AWS provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum, and we respect Parler’s right to determine for itself what content it will allow," the statement continued. "However, it is clear that there is significant content on Parler that encourages and incites violence against others, and that Parler is unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which is a violation of our terms of service."

Why did Parler get booted? 

Each of the Big Tech companies attributed the removal to threats of violence on Parler’s platform, which have been linked to the deadly pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it cut Parler from its web service. The spokesperson did not provide further comment.   

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

The email continued: “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.”

Parler was launched in 2018 and has been widely used by Trump supporters and right-wing extremists like QAnon followers who promote violence and spread conspiracy theories that platforms including Facebook and Twitter have begun to more closely regulate. 

Screenshots from Parler showed Trump supporters planning last week’s insurrection at the Capitol and encouraging bringing weapons and committing violence. Five people died and dozens were injured after a mob of Trump followers attacked the Capitol, where members of Congress were forced to evacuate while certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win. 

Amazon’s removal of Parler from its hosting services comes after Apple and Google both removed it from their app stores over the weekend. 

“Parler has not upheld its commitment to moderate and remove harmful or dangerous content encouraging violence and illegal activity, and is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines,” Apple wrote to Parler in a letter obtained by New York Times tech reporter Davey Alba. 

Sleeping Giants, a liberal activist organization, urged Apple and Google to remove the social media app from its systems last week by tweeting screenshots of users plotting violence. The organization cited the pro-Trump rioters’ plan to return to Washington D.C. “carrying our weapons” the day before Biden’s inauguration on January 20. In another screenshot of a post after the Capitol breach, Trump supporter and lawyer Lin Wood threatened violence against Vice President Mike Pence by writing, “Get the firing squads ready. Pence goes FIRST.” (Parler’s CEO said the platform removed this and other violent comments.)

On Saturday, Parler CEO John Matze confirmed in a statement Amazon’s plan to remove the website from its hosting services, calling it “an attempt to completely remove free speech off the internet.”

“There is the possibility that Parler will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch,” Matze wrote. “This was a coordinated attack by tech giants to kill competition in the market place. We were too successful too fast. You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don’t count us out.”

Matze posted another statement on Parler just before it was shut down late Sunday night saying that Google, Apple, and Amazon’s comments to the media about pulling the social media site from their platforms caused “most of our other vendors to drop their support of us as well.” He added: “And most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us.” Matze said Parler “will likely be down longer than expected.”

Parler’s shutdown comes just after Twitter permanently suspended President Trump’s personal Twitter @realdonaldtrump on Friday. The move came two days after the Capitol insurrection.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter wrote in a statement. “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

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