Parler to be down 'for a while' without AWS, executives say: 'We are clearly being singled out'
Parler will likely go offline for "a while" Sunday evening given Amazon Web Services' decision to suspend the upstart social media platform after Wednesday's U.S. Capitol riot, executives said Sunday.
"We are clearly being singled out," Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff told "Fox & Friends Weekend" one day after Apple suspended Parler from its App Store even as it surged to the No. 1 spot in the free apps section earlier in the day.
"I believe we were treated unfairly," she added.
CEO John Matze told "Sunday Morning Futures" that the site will try to "get back online as quickly as possible," after writing on the platform that the site may be down for up to a week.
Google suspended Parler from its app store Friday due to a failure to moderate "egregious content" posted by users related to the violent siege on Capitol Hill last week.
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"We're not necessarily being singled out by those tech companies, but certainly by the people who have been putting pressure on them and, in fact, we think we're being set up in a lot of ways because in looking at some of the content, these are accounts that have been created two days ago and they have few pieces of content and some of them are parodies of what you would think a right-wing insider of violence would be," Peikoff said on Sunday.
She added that she’s "very surprised with respect to Apple about this because they have a reputation for respecting privacy."
Parler is facing criticism over Wednesday’s riot that saw supporters of President Trump storm into the U.S. Capitol, attack police, vandalize the building and steal items from inside.
Screenshots taken from Parler and shared on other social media platforms appear to show Parler users openly discussing plans for violence at the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, including bringing weapons and imagining how they would wield them against their political opponents.
An Apple spokesperson said in a statement to FOX Business, "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."
"Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety," the statement continued. "We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues."
The App Reviews Board sent a letter to Parler executives explaining that their app would be "removed from the App Store until we receive an update that is compliant with the App Store Review Guidelines and you have demonstrated your ability to effectively moderate and filter the dangerous and harmful content on your service."
A spokesperson for Google confirmed in a statement to Fox News that its "longstanding policies" require that apps with user-generated content have measures in place to remove certain obscene content – including posts that incite violence. Developers agree to those terms.
"We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.," a Google spokesperson wrote in a statement. "In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues."
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Matze told "Sunday Morning Futures" that what is happening is "extremely scary" and that it seems like the Big Tech moves are an effort to "stifle free speech and competition in the marketplace."
Data analytics company Appfigures estimated that on Saturday, Parler downloads would surpass 1.5 million on the App Store, driven in large part by pro-Trump conservatives leaving Twitter in protest.
On Friday, Appfigures estimated that "downloads grew to more than 340,000, up from about 12,000 in the prior week" based on company data. The total number of downloads "between Wednesday and Friday are estimated to have added more than 450,000 new downloads."
Apple and Google's suspension of Parler comes after Twitter's Friday decision to ban President Trump's personal account after a mob of his loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in several deaths. The tech company accused Trump of inciting the violence.
Amazon will also reportedly suspend Parler from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) unit in a move that takes the site offline, unless it finds another hosting service.
mazon says the move was made for violating AWS' terms of services by failing to effectively deal with a steady increase in violent content, according to an email by an AWS Trust and Safety team to Parler, seen by Reuters.
AWS plans to suspend Parler's account effective Sunday, at 11:59 p.m. PST, according to the email.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the letter was authentic.
"If Amazon does indeed follow through with that then we will be off," Peikoff said on Sunday, explaining that "we cannot be operational without servers."
When asked if there are alternate servers Parler can move to, Peikoff said, "We're working and scrambling to do this, but it’s not something that you can do really quickly so there’s a good chance that we will be down for a while."
"We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business, however Amazon, Google and Apple purposefully did this in a coordinated effort knowing our options would be limited and knowing this would inflict the most damage right as President Trump was banned from the tech companies," Matze added.
Amazon Web Services' acceptable-use policy bars customers from using its services for "illegal, harmful or offensive" content. An Amazon representative declined to comment.
"We don't want this content on our platform of course," Peikoff said. "It is not only illegal, but it’s contrary to our mission because we are trying to provide a nonpartisan town square in which people of varying viewpoints can have productive discussions and force and threats of force stop those discussions, in fact they stop thinking so it is the opposite of what we want."
"We want people to think. We want them to think for themselves," she stressed.
At the same time we strongly believe that Orwell's ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is a dystopian novel," she continued. "It’s not an instruction manual, and by that I mean that in a free country, innocent people, people about whom you have no particularized suspicion, should not be subjected to bulk surveillance 24/7 and it’s not consistent with the Fourth Amendment to do that."
Peikoff then explained what she called "a crucial question."
"Do we want all of the content that is posted online, every single piece to be scanned for ‘objectionable content,’ as they call it, 24/7 and also removed without due process if it’s flagged by an algorithm because that seems to be the standard that Parler is being told that we must adhere to," she said.
Fox Business’ Audrey Conklin, James Leggate and Fox News’ Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.