/Amazon to drop Parler from its web hosting service, citing violent posts

Amazon to drop Parler from its web hosting service, citing violent posts

Parler CEO John Matze joins CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on July 2, 2020.

Amazon has pulled the plug on Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters, in the wake of the deadly U.S. Capitol riot earlier this week.

Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS), informed Parler on Saturday that it will no longer provide cloud services to the company beginning on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. PT, according to an email obtained by CNBC. AWS provides cloud services to Parler that host its website, which means that if Parler can’t locate a new cloud provider by Sunday night, the site will go offline for its users.

News of Amazon’s decision to drop Parler was first reported by BuzzFeed. Multiple news outlets reported that Amazon had already suspended Parler, but the site was still available to CNBC staff as of the early morning hours East Coast time.

In the email, Amazon Web Services’ Trust and Safety team told Parler’s Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff that the platform continues to host “violent content” that violates AWS’ terms of service. AWS said it wasn’t satisfied with Parler’s attempts to moderate content on its platform and, as a result, would move to “suspend Parler’s account.”

“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 states. “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.”

Although Google and Apple both removed the Parler app from their app stores on Friday and Saturday, respectively, users could still log in if they already had the app installed or through the Parler website. Amazon’s move to stop hosting Parler goes a step further, effectively taking it completely offline unless the company can find a new host first.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the letter to CNBC, but declined to comment further. A Parler spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

AWS told Parler in the email that it had flagged 98 examples to Parler of posts that “clearly encourage and incite violence.” Among the posts it reported to Parler, which were viewed by CNBC, users on the platform made violent threats directed at “liberal leaders, liberal activists #blm leaders and supporters,” in addition to other groups.

Screenshots of the Parler app viewed by CNBC show users posting references to firing squads, as well as calls to bring weapons to the presidential inauguration later this month.

John Matze, Parler’s CEO, told the New York Times’ Kara Swisher in an interview on Thursday that he didn’t “feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform, considering we’re a neutral town square that just adheres to the law.”

Parler, which launched in 2018, has emerged as a popular platform for President Trump’s allies in the last year by billing itself as a free speech alternative to mainstream social media services like Twitter and Facebook.

Earlier on Saturday, a group of Amazon employees had called on the company to cut ties with Parler. In a tweet late Saturday, the group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, applauded the company’s decision to drop Parler.

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