Amazon on Saturday kicked Parler off its Web hosting services. Parler, a social network favored by conservative politicians and extremists, was used to help plan and coordinate the January 6 attempted coup on Washington D.C. It has recently been overrun with messages encouraging “Patriots” to march on Washington D.C. with weapons on January 19.
Amazon’s suspension of Parler’s account means that unless it can find another host, once the ban takes effect on Sunday Parler will go offline.
Amazon declined to comment on the suspension. Parler has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Republican lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz and Congressman Devin Nunes as well as President Donald Trump’s family members and surrogates have all established accounts on Parler, and have publicly encouraged their supporters to join them there. So too have many figures in conservative media.
In an email obtained by BuzzFeed News, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Trust and Safety team told Parler Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff that the calls for violence propagating across Parler violated its terms of service and that Amazon is unconvinced that the service’s plan to use volunteers to moderate such things will be effective.
“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,” the email reads. “[W]e cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,” the email reads. “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.”
On Saturday afternoon, Apple banned Parler from its App Store after the platform failed to introduce a moderation plan to protect public safety. On Friday, Apple gave Parler 24 hours to mitigate the “planning of illegal and dangerous activities” occurring on its service or face expulsion, BuzzFeed News first reported. Google has also suspended Parler from its Google Play app store.
Amazon employees have publicly called for an AWS ban of Parler, and a Change.org petition calling for the same thing has amassed thousands of signatures.
Here’s Amazon’s letter to Parler in full.
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