The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Amazon suspends Parler, taking pro-Trump site offline indefinitely

During the weekend after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Apple and Amazon suspended cut off Parler, a platform popular with President Trump's supporters. (Video: Reuters)

Amazon suspended the pro-Trump social network Parler from its Web-hosting service over the weekend, a move that threatens to darken the site indefinitely after its users glorified the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The e-commerce and Web-hosting giant said Parler had violated its terms of service given its inadequate content-moderation practices. It implemented its punishment just before midnight Pacific time Monday.

Trump scrambles to find new social network after Twitter ban, as White House prepares to blast big tech

The move by Amazon Web Services, or AWS, marks the latest and most crippling blow for the pro-Trump social network, which has emerged as a haven for conservative users who have fled more mainstream Silicon Valley sites that crack down on harmful, viral falsehoods online. Last week, Apple and Google removed Parler’s app from their stores for smartphone downloads, similarly citing concerns that posts on Parler could contribute to violence.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that AWS had communicated its suspension to Parler on Saturday.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Parler also did not respond to a request for comment. But its chief executive, John Matze, said in a post on his site that the social network could be “unavailable on the Internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch.” On Sunday, Matze said on an interview on Fox News Channel that it threatens to potentially put the company out of business.

“This could destroy anybody,” he said, adding later that the company was scrambling to find hundreds of servers before Amazon’s deadline. “It’s an impossible feat that we’re going to handle as best we can to get back online as quickly as possible.”

Twitter on Jan. 8 banned President Trump from its site, a punishment for his role in inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol. (Video: The Washington Post)

Troubling the tech giants, Parler users in recent days had praised the mob that put the Capitol on lockdown midweek, threatening a potential “war.” The pro-Trump attorney L. Lin Wood, meanwhile, at one point urged Trump-supporting “patriots” on Parler to keep fighting, saying, “Almighty God is with you. TODAY IS OUR DAY.”

Parler historically has taken an aggressively hands-off approach to content moderation. It generally acts using a “community jury” system, allowed trained volunteers to vote on posts to determine if they violate the site’s rules. Otherwise, Parler’s guidelines promise it will keep any removals to an “absolute minimum,” in the spirit of letting users govern themselves, except in cases where there is an “an explicit or implicit encouragement to use violence” or illegal activity.

On Saturday, Matze blasted tech giants for engaging in a “coordinated effort” designed to “inflict the most damage right as President Trump was banned from the tech companies,” referring to Twitter’s recent decision to permanently suspend Trump out of concern that his tweets threatened to stir violence during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Such suspensions can incapacitate a website: The extremist forum 8chan, which became a haven for white supremacists, disappeared from the Internet for weeks in 2019 after hosting companies rejected it.

The Parler suspension was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg contributed to this story.