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Until Capitol riot, Amazon expressed scant concern about violent content on Parler, social network says

Katherine Khashimova Long, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

In its filing Wednesday, Parler suggests Amazon’s about-face could have been due to concerns over how its relationship with Parler would be perceived publicly. Hours before Amazon told Parler on Friday its account would be suspended, a group of Amazon tech workers had received significant media attention for calling on their employer to dump Parler.

Parler said texts exchanged between an AWS representative and Matze in the days immediately after the Capitol riot further bolstered its claim that AWS was not worried about violent content on Parler until it faced pressure from employees.

In those texts, “AWS expressed no concerns with Parler’s content moderation,” Parler said in its filing. “But this same AWS representative repeatedly asked whether the President had joined or would join Parler now that he was blocked by Twitter and Facebook.”

Parler also contended Amazon dismantled its account in order to help Twitter, soon to be a major AWS client. Two AWS executives called that logic bogus in declarations filed Tuesday. Twitter has not yet migrated to AWS and the company does not know when it plans to do so, said the executives, whose names Amazon redacted after receiving “significant and repeated threats of physical violence against AWS, its facilities and its employees” when it suspended Parler, according to an Amazon motion to seal the declarations.

When asked Wednesday about Parler’s claims, an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment and pointed to Amazon’s previous filings in the case.

The company has said that its “decision to suspend Parler is about nothing more than Parler’s demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of AWS content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”

 

In recent days, Parler has taken at least one step toward a reboot, transferring its domain name to Sammamish-based web host Epik, which also hosts neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer and conspiracy theory channel InfoWars — and, as of Wednesday, the website of right-wing paramilitary group Oath Keepers, after group leaders said its previous web host kicked them offline, BuzzFeed reported.

Epik, though, “will not be providing the web-hosting services that are essential for Parler to function as a company,” Matze said in his Wednesday declaration.

Many of Parler’s vendors followed Amazon’s lead in terminating their relationships with Parler, including American Express, workplace messaging app Slack, payment processor Stripe and Parler’s public relations firm. Depending on how Parler chooses to rebuild its digital infrastructure, it could be offline up to a year, experts have said.

“My company is now a social network without a network,” Matze said in his Wednesday declaration.

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