Conservative website Parler forced offline

CEO John Matze of conservative social network Parler accuses tech giants of a ‘war on free speech’.

Apple followed Google and removed the Parler app from its mobile store for allowing 'threats of violence' after deadly attack on the US Capitol [File: Olivier Douliery/AFP]

The conservative social network, Parler, was forced offline on Monday, tracking websites showed, after Amazon warned the company would lose access to its servers for failure to properly police violent content.

In an email first obtained by BuzzFeed News, Amazon Web Services told Parler’s chief policy officer, Amy Peikoff, the social media platform violated Amazon’s terms of service by failing to remove calls for violence.

The site’s popularity soared in recent weeks, becoming the number one free app in Apple’s App Store after much larger Twitter banned US President Donald Trump from its platform for his role in inciting a deadly riot at the United States Capitol last week.

Messages of support for Wednesday’s attack in Washington, DC – along with calls for new demonstrations – flourished on the platform, leading Google to remove it from its app store on Friday, followed by Apple on Saturday.

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. That is a fraction of the 89 million followers Trump had on Twitter.

Amazon then confirmed it would suspend the platform from its cloud-hosting services for allowing “threats of violence”.

In a letter to Parler’s owners, the web giant said it would suspend service by 11:59pm on Sunday (07:59 GMT Monday).

Tracking website Down For Everyone Or Just Me showed Parler offline just after midnight, suggesting its owners had not been able to find a new hosting partner.

In a series of posts on Parler on Saturday, CEO John Matze said the site would go down the following day and accused the tech giants of a “war on free speech”.

“They will NOT win! We are the world’s last hope for free speech and free information,” he said.

“Every vendor, from text message services, to email providers, to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,” Matze said on Sunday on Fox News.

He said while the company was trying to get back online as quickly as possible, it is “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”.

The social network, launched in 2018, operates much like Twitter with profiles people can follow and “parleys” instead of tweets.

In its early days, the platform attracted a crowd of ultra-conservative or even extreme-right users. But it now attracts many more traditional Republican voices.

Fox News host Sean Hannity has 7.6 million followers, while his colleague Tucker Carlson has 4.4 million.

Elected officials present include Republicans Devin Nunes, a California congressman, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.

Trump is not known to have a Parler profile.

Parler’s recent growth was supercharged after last week’s violence in Washington as new users, furious over Twitter’s ban on Trump, flocked to the app calling for fresh protests.

In one now-deleted post, an account purporting to belong to Lin Wood, a pro-Trump lawyer, called for Vice President Mike Pence to be put in front of a firing squad – threats US media reported led to a secret service investigation.

Source: News Agencies