Parler is learning a hard lesson this week that freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.
Amazon, Apple, and Google, and virtually all of Parler’s business alliances have cut ties with the social network du jour for deplatformed conservatives and extremists following this week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. The platform is set to go offline just before midnight on Sunday evening unless Parler can find another hosting service willing to work with it—and there are none, according to the company’s CEO.
“Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,” Parler CEO John Matze told Fox News on Sunday.
Honestly, that’s understandable given that Parler was reportedly one of several pro-Trump corners of the internet where extremists conspired to storm Capitol Hill and threatened violence against political figures to try to prevent Congress from validating the results of the election.
Not wanting any potential ties to the rioters who literally built a gallows in front of the Capitol building and chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” Parler’s business alliances began dropping like flies. Google and Apple kicked the app from their app stores until it implements stricter content moderation policies. Now multiple outlets are reporting that Amazon is indefinitely suspending Parler’s account on its cloud hosting service, Amazon Web Services, because the company’s insufficient content moderation policies violate its terms of service. Matze claimed to Fox that the e-commerce giant gave Parler 24 hours to migrate its data from Amazon’s servers and take its business elsewhere, a task that’s left the company scrambling to find hundreds of servers before the deadline.
When reached for comment on the suspension, Amazon pointed Gizmodo toward Buzzfeed News’s coverage of a letter AWS sent to Parler, which you can read in full here. In it, Amazon says that because Parler failed to “comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety,” its account is being suspended by the end of the day on Sunday. Amazon goes on to say that it will ensure all of Parler’s data is preserved and promises to work with the company “as best as we can” during the transition process.
In his interview with Fox, Matze called this sweeping purge from major online platforms “an attempt to not only kill the app, but to actually destroy the entire company.” Parler could stay dark for up to a week as its developers try to rebuild the platform from the ground up, he said in a post there.
Matze vehemently disputes the reasoning behind these suspensions, telling Fox that Parler has never allowed violence on the platform and it was not used to coordinate Wednesday’s riot. As a note, Parler’s user agreement doesn’t explicitly prohibit violent content, but it does state that the company may terminate accounts or remove content that engages in illegal conduct or endeavors to “infringe the legal rights of others.”
Of course, since Parler bills itself as “the world’s premier free speech platform,” how strictly it enforces this policy is doubtful. Particularly given that threats of violence and discussions about storming the capitol were spotted on Parler—as well as on the encrypted messaging app Telegram and the pro-Trump forum thedonald.win—in the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s insurrection attempt.
But here’s the thing: Parler wasn’t brought down by its own stubbornness and inability to moderate violent extremists on its platform. No, it was brought down because Big Tech is conspiring against it! Parler got too big too fast, and now Apple, Amazon, and all of those losers are trying to take out their competition!
At least, that’s what Matze argues.
“This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the market place,” he wrote on Parler. In support of his conspiracy theory, he cites the fact that Parler shot up to the No. 1 spot on Apple’s app store after Facebook and Twitter banned President Donald Trump. On Friday, Parler saw roughly 182,000 installs in the U.S. alone, up 355% from the day before, a rep from the analytics service Sensor Tower told TechCrunch. But given the circumstances—i.e. the looming threat of Parler’s imminent removal from several major platforms—it’s essentially bragging about getting the pity vote.
In another post, Matze paints Parler as a martyr in some kind of bizarre class war by proxy wherein a nebulous, cryptic “elite” cohort is conspiring to drive a wedge between... everyone else I guess?
“Parley—brings two people with conflicting ideas together. Our mission is free speech, democracy and us the people having the power. The elite don’t want us to be free, they want hate division and power!”
Look, some people you just can’t reason with. Parler did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment (on this or any other day). But with that extremist echo chamber going dark this week, the internet is just a bit brighter for it.