In the latest blow to social app Parler, Amazon said Saturday it was suspending the company from its web hosting platform effective at 11:59PM PST Sunday. First reported by BuzzFeed News unless Parler finds another web hosting service, the site will go offline Sunday night.
Parler CEO John Matze said in a post on the site Saturday evening that the site could be offline for up to a week “as we rebuild from scratch.” Matze said the company had prepared for such an event, “by never relying on amazons [sic] proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products.”
He added that “many” were competing for Parler’s business, and accused Amazon, Google, and Apple of a coordinated attack to kill competition. “We were too successful too fast, Matze wrote. “You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don’t count us out.”
According to BuzzFeed, Amazon Web Services (AWS), told Parler officials that the violence in posts on the site ran afoul of its terms of service, and that it did not believe Parler had a process in place to get back on track. “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,” the company’s trust and safety team wrote in a letter to Parler.
Earlier on Saturday, a group of Amazon employees demanded the company sever its relationship with Parler and stop providing web hosting services to the platform. Amazon Employees for Climate Change and Justice tweeted Saturday that Amazon Web Services, the company’s internet infrastructure service that is the backbone of many websites and apps, should “deny Parler services until it removes posts inciting violence, including at the Presidential inauguration.”
Parler has become popular among supporters of President Trump, as platforms like Twitter and Facebook tightened their moderation policies. The group of Amazon employees includes many higher-skilled workers at the company, including data scientists and software developers. It’s not the first time the group has questioned its company’s practices; it published a letter in April 2019 calling on Amazon to adopt a plan to address climate change, and end AWS’s contracts with fossil fuel companies.
Enough is enough. Amazon hosts Parler on @awscloud.
As Amazon workers, we demand Amazon deny Parler services until it removes posts inciting violence, including at the Presidential inauguration.
We cannot be complicit in more bloodshed and violent attacks on our democracy.
— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) January 9, 2021
Parler has been in the spotlight in the past several days, with activist group Sleeping Giants calling for the app to be pulled from app stores in response to posts calling for violence against elected officials. Screenshots show posts on Parler—known as parleys— calling for Vice President Mike Pence to face a firing squad, and encouraging “Patriots” to return to Washington D.C. on January 19th with weapons.
According to the AWS acceptable use policy customers may not use its services “for any illegal, harmful, fraudulent, infringing or offensive use.” AWS cut ties with right-wing social site Gab in 2019, for violating its policy against hateful content.
On Friday, Google removed Parler from its Play Store because it lacked a robust mechanism for moderating “egregious content,” according to a statement. “We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US,” the statement reads.
Late Saturday, Apple also banned Parler from its App Store. According to one report, before it was banned, Parler rose to the No. 1 spot in the App Store late Friday.
Parler didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from The Verge on Saturday.
Update January 9th, 9:40PM ET: Adds report that Amazon will kick Parler off of its AWS hosting service Sunday
Update January 9th, 10:02PM ET: Adds comment from Parler CEO and confirmation from Amazon