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AWS boots controversial social media network Parler off web hosting service

Written by Mon 11 Jan 2021

Existence of free speech platform in doubt as tech giants pull support

Amazon Web Services has suspended social media network Parler from its hosting services citing posts on the platform that appeared to incite violence.

Parler was founded in 2018 and markets itself as a “free speech” social network. Its popularity has surged in recent months among amid allegations that platforms like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook are stifling debate by censoring certain topics and opinions.

When Twitter permanently suspended the account of US President Donald Trump, he and many of his supporters flocked to the network in protest, catapulting Parler to the top of Apple’s App Store download charts.

The two-year-old magnet for the far-right claims more than 12 million users, though mobile app analytics firm Sensor Tower puts the number at 10 million worldwide, with eight million in the US.

In the wake of the Capitol Hill riot that rocked Washington DC last week, Parler was criticised for not doing enough to moderate posts among protestors encouraging a violent interruption of the US democratic process.

At the time of writing Parler has not found a replacement hosting service and remains offline. The suspension comes just days after Google and Apple also removed its mobile application from their app stores. Google said Parler allowed postings that sought “to incite ongoing violence in the US”, while Apple also cited a lack of moderation.

AWS, whose own employees lobbied for Parler’s disconnection from AWS, said it encouraged a broad spectrum of opinions and supported free speech but that it would not allow its customers to use its services to spin up apps and websites that encouraged acts of violence.  The cloud giant said it warned Parler to moderate its content or face suspension after it discovered 98 posts on the platform that “clearly” incited violence.

In response, Parler CEO John Matze said the platform will “rebuild from scratch” and accused Amazon of removing “free speech from the internet”.

“Sunday at midnight Amazon will be shutting off all of our servers in an attempt to completely remove free speech off the internet,” Matze said.

“There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch. We prepared for events like this by never relying on Amazon’s proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products.”

“We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business, however Amazon, Google and Apple purposefully did this as a coordinated effort knowing our options would be limited…”

Written by Mon 11 Jan 2021


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