Parler social network sues Amazon for pulling support

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ParlerImage source, EPA

Parler has hit back after Amazon pulled support for its so-called "free speech" social network.

Parler had been reliant on the tech giant's Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing service to provide its alternative to Twitter.

The platform was popular among supporters of Donald Trump, although the president is not a user.

Amazon took the action after finding dozens of posts on the service that it said encouraged violence.

In response, the platform has asked a federal judge to order Amazon to reinstate it.

"AWS's decision to effectively terminate Parler's account is apparently motivated by political animus," the complaint reads.

"It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter."

Amazon has issued a statement in response.

"There is no merit to these claims," it said.

"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. 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.

"We made our concerns known to Parler over a number of weeks and during that time we saw a significant increase in this type of dangerous content, not a decrease, which led to our suspension of their services Sunday evening."

Examples Amazon had provided included posts calling for the killing of Democrats, Muslims, Black Lives Matter leaders, and mainstream media journalists.

Google and Apple had already removed Parler from their app stores towards the end of last week saying it had failed to comply with their content-moderation requirements.

However, it had still been accessible via the web - although visitors had complained of being unable to create new accounts over the weekend, without which it was not possible to view its content.

'All ditched us'

Parler has been online since 2018, and may return if it can find an alternative host.

However, chief executive John Matze told Fox News on Sunday that "every vendor from text message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too".

"We're going to try our best to get back online as quickly as possible, but we're having a lot of trouble because every vendor we talk to says they won't work with us because if Apple doesn't approve and Google doesn't approve, they won't," he added.

AWS's move is the latest in a series of actions affecting social media following the rioting on Capitol Hill last week.

Media caption,

Capitol riots: ‘We would have been murdered’

Facebook and Twitter have also banned President Trump's accounts on their platforms, citing concerns that he might incite further violence.

Parler's users included the Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who had led an effort in the Senate to delay certifying Joe Biden's electoral college victory.

He had about five million followers on the platform - more than his tally on Twitter.

Image caption,
Parler's app now shows an error message and its website is offline

"Why should a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have a monopoly on political speech?" he tweeted over the weekend.

Parler's downfall appears to have benefited Gab - another "free speech" social network that is popular with far-right commentators.

It has claimed to have "gained more users in the past two days than we did in our first two years of existing".

Parler has long been a home for what you might call untouchables, people who had been excluded from mainstream services for offences such as blatant racism or incitement to violence.

During a brief excursion onto the site over the weekend, I observed plenty of examples of such behaviour, with users exhibiting vile anti-Semitism, displaying Nazi symbols such as the swastika and uttering incoherent threats against those they perceive to be enemies of America.

But as Amazon's deadline approached something like panic took hold, with users desperately urging their followers to join them on other platforms.

Most seemed to accept that Parler was doomed, while vowing to continue their fight elsewhere.

"Well this is the end," wrote one user, who proclaimed his support for the American Nazi Party.