Parler, the social network known for embracing many of the people banned by Twitter, YouTube and other tech platforms, has officially gone dark after Amazon Web Services stopped supporting the site.
The Amazon unplugging follows the removal of the Parler app from the Apple and Google app stores over the weekend. The tech companies all determined that continuing to facilitate the app could promote violence, given that many Donald Trump supporters have taken to Parler recently. The attack on the U.S. Capitol last week followed waves of posts on Parler promoting false claims of election fraud and fomenting the outrage that resulted in the deadly incursion in Washington.
Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their platforms, and a number of others have done likewise, after the president repeatedly urged his followers to march on the Capitol. Unlike Parler, Twitter had taken to flagging or sometimes deleting posts spreading lies about the election, whose results have been reaffirmed by dozens of courts throwing out lawsuits by Trump and his supporters. Parler’s explosive growth in 2020 came in large part due to its willingness to offer users a platform that would explicitly not restrict speech. Several social media figures banned elsewhere flocked to the site. As other social media companies finally began to take action after initially asserting that they should not be held responsible for what their users post, Parler moved in the opposite direction.
Parler CEO John Matze told Fox News on Sunday that the actions taken against his company “would put anybody out of business.” This morning, he was welcomed on the air by Fox Business for a 10-minute segment with host Maria Bartiromo, who has asserted herself in recent months as one of the most tenacious defenders of Trump. She didn’t disappoint, calling the Parler news “really devastating” and suggesting Matze’s shareholders file an antitrust lawsuit over a “coordinated attack by Big Tech.”
“I never thought I’d be living in a country where this would happen,” Matze moped. “The site is down – it’s just a black hole. It’s pretty horrible.”
Last Friday, the CEO said, the Parler app was No. 1 in the U.S. in the app stores, with 20 million users. By Sunday, the company was disappearing from all of the best-known places, and no company will host the site or sell its app. “We’ve called all of the big tech players,” he said. “They’ve all said no.”
As Bartiromo nodded along, Matze dismissed the notion that anything happened on Parler last week that was any different than the conversations on Twitter or Facebook. His company was subjected to a “double standard” as companies retaliated to “squash” a social media rival. “I’m sure there were some people” spreading violence and extremism on Parler, he conceded, but the site’s terms of service technically limit such material.
Matze said Parler will eventually return to the internet, but it may have to “buy and build” its own back-end tech operation and servers as a work-around.