What’s happening: Parler, a site which bills itself as a “free speech social network” and that was widely used to coordinate the storming of the Capitol last week, has gone offline after Amazon stopped hosting it on Sunday night, citing terms of service violations.
Why?: Buzzfeed obtained a copy of the email from Amazon informing Parler of the decision. It said: “Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms. It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service.” Parler had come under mounting pressure over the weekend as Google then Apple pulled its app from their app stores over its role as a platform used to plan violent, illegal acts and its reluctance to moderate the site more stringently.
About Parler: Parler launched in 2018 as a virtually unmoderated version of Facebook and Twitter. It was originally a fringe website but it has seen user numbers grow rapidly in recent weeks after Biden’s election win. Its chief investor is right-wing megadonor Rebekah Mercer. It has become a safe haven for hate group members, conspiracists, and people who have been banned elsewhere online. Violence is regularly openly discussed. For example, conversations on Parler have called for Vice President Mike Pence to be executed.
Tech taking a stand: The push to exclude Parler from mainstream platforms comes as the tech industry as a whole seems to have reached the end of its fuse with Trump and his more violent supporters. Trump has now been banned by Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Google, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, Twitch, Shopify, TikTok, and Pinterest. Stripe has also stopped processing payments for his campaign website.
Where next for Parler: It is entirely feasible that another hosting company will step in and offer to host Parler now it’s been dropped by Amazon. 8chan, a website used by mass shooters to post videos and manifestoes, was banned by hosting company Cloudflare in 2019. It was back online in just a few weeks.