Will Apple And Amazon Kill Parler?
Following the mob of people appearing at the U.S. Capital, Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. halted support for Parler (a social-media service that has soared in popularity among conservatives). Many have questioned if the big tech companies are the right people to police the situation.
Amazon said Saturday it would no longer provide cloud-computing services to Parler. Apple suspended the company’s app from the App Store.
“We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity,” Apple said in a statement. “Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety.”
The moves from Amazon and Apple come 24 hours after Google suspended Parler from its Play Store app marketplace. Unlike Apple the move from Google didn’t affect Parler’s availability on the internet or in other Android app stores, Google said.
Interest in Parler has sky rocketed since November as larger social-network operators have begun to silence Trump (Facebook much more heavily polices content and on Friday, Twitter banned President Trump’s personal account.
Parler's rules don’t prohibit hate speech and false information while banning spam, threats of violence and other illegal activity. However, in the past few days Parler has doubled its volunteer “jurors” to more than a thousand and instructed them to search “hot” hashtags for incitement, said Jeffrey Wernick, Parler’s operating chief. The company also instructed its jurors to hunt down any content suggesting violence within the comment sections of its more highly trafficked sections, and planned to hire employees to bolster these efforts, according to Amy Peikoff, chief policy officer of Parler.
Apple told the company it found its response insufficient, according to the latest app notice, saying that Parler had to demonstrate the “ability to effectively moderate and filter the dangerous and harmful content” on the service.
“This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the market place,” Chief Executive John Matze said in a Saturday post on Parler. “We were too successful too fast. You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don’t count us out.”
Amazon’s announcement goes far beyond Apple or Google because it effectively is taking Parler’s website offline and no longer storing Parler’s data. Amazon said in a letter to Parler it had seen a steady increase in violent content on the site and said Parler’s efforts to remove them were inadequate. The notice to Parler was earlier reported by BuzzFeed. Amazon said it planned to suspend Parler’s account on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time, though it would preserve the company’s data and aid in the migration of data to different servers.
Apple, Google and Amazon have been accused by some lawmakers of anticompetitive behavior in how they operate. Apple, Amazon and Google have denied such claims.
Parler experienced a huge surge of interest on Friday, the day Apple and Google made moves to limit its reach, driving it to the top spot on Apple’s App Store. Mr. Wernick said this surge in traffic overloaded the company’s servers and made it impossible for them to respond to alerts about problematic content fast enough.
“They picked a time yesterday when we had a huge spurt and gave us no time to adequately respond to this,” said Mr. Wernick. “At this point, it seems like bad faith to me.”