Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Booted Parler Sues Amazon Web Services

Parler sued Amazon’s cloud-computing business Monday after the tech titan forced the controversial social network to go dark, reports The NY Post.

The 18-page complaint filed in Seattle federal court claims Amazon Web Services’ decision to stop hosting Parler was a politically motivated scheme to protect Twitter — another Amazon client — from competition.

“AWS’s decision to effectively terminate Parler’s account is apparently motivated by political animus,” the lawsuit reads. “It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter.”

The suit came hours after AWS cut off Parler’s access to its servers because of its failure to police the threats of violence that proliferated on the platform ahead of last week’s pro-President Trump siege on the US Capitol.

Trump’s supporters and other right-wing activists had flocked to Parler since the November presidential election that Trump has constantly tried to undermine with baseless fraud claims.

That growth started to accelerate after Twitter banned Trump from the site Friday over concerns that his posts could incite further violence, Parler’s complaint says, noting that there was speculation that Trump himself would join Parler.

John Matze
In some Parler posts flagged by tech companies as examples of inadequate moderation, users posted about “poisoning the water supply” in minority neighborhoods and killing their alleged enemies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Executives at Parler said posts inciting violence violate its rules, although acknowledged they are aware such content was on the platform and others in the run-up to the Capitol attack. Its team of moderators—mainly volunteers who receive training on what content should be removed—has been overwhelmed and often faced large backlogs in handling offending posts as the service added users by the thousands in recent months, they said.

Parler Chief Executive John Matze said the company had offered to use algorithms to help moderators identify and weed out violent content, tools employed by larger social networks that Parler executives have previously resisted.

Parler is in a frenzied push to find new vendors to host its services so that it can resume operations, a process executives said could last at least a week. Backed by investors such as Republican donor Rebekah Mercer, Parler has the resources to restore service outside of Amazon and plenty of cash on hand, said Mr. Matze. But he acknowledged that a sustained loss of service could undermine the platform’s future.

Meanwhile,  The ripple effects of tech’s big shift against Trump continued to spread:

  • Online payments company Stripe has stopped processing payments for President Trump’s campaign website, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Facebook is removing references to the phrase “Stop the Steal” from its platform, TechCrunch reported.
  • Amazon employees want right-wing militia merchandise taken off the site, Vox reported.
  • Parler found a new web-hosting home in Epik, Vice reported.

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