Parler – the alternative social network favoured by the far-right – has dropped offline, after Amazon pulled its support for the so-called ‘free speech’ app.
The platform had relied on the tech giant’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing services. It found huge popularity among supporters of Donald Trump, and other fringe elements of the far-right who had been kicked off Twitter or Facebook because of rule breaches.
Amazon took action after finding dozens of posts on the service which it said encouraged or incited violence, just days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol.
Google and Apple removed Parler from their app stores last week, claiming it failed to comply with content-moderation requirements.
But the platform had still been accessible via the web – although visitors over the weekend complained that they were unable to create new accounts over the weekend.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Parler’s chief executive John Matze said 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 removal of Parler is the latest example of Big Tech flexing its muscles after the violence on Capitol Hill last week, incited by President Trump.
Facebook and Twitter have banned Trump’s accounts – citing concerns that he might encourage further violence – leaving the ‘social media president’ without the alternative megaphone he has relied on throughout his time in office.
The likes of Republican Senator Ted Cruz – who led the effort to delay certifying Joe Biden’s electoral college win last week – had been popular on Parler, amassing five million followers.
“Why should a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have a monopoly on political speech?” Cruz tweeted over the weekend – seemingly more excised about losing followers than an attempted coup in Washington DC.
Amazon told Parler that it had witnessed a “steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms” – adding that it did not believe the app’s administrators had an “effective process” to tackle the problem.
It provided examples – including posts which called for the killing of Democrats, Muslims, Black Lives Matter leaders and journalists.
But Parler’s demise appears to have benefited another ‘free speech’ social media network. Gab, which is increasingly popular with the far-right, claimed to have “gained more users in the past two days than we did in our first two years of existing”.