halted support for Parler, dealing a major blow to a social-media service that has soared in popularity among conservatives and escalating a campaign by tech giants to regulate content they see as dangerous in the wake of the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Amazon said Saturday it would no longer provide cloud-computing services to Parler, and Apple suspended the company’s app from the App Store. Both companies said Parler hasn’t demonstrated in recent conversations that it can adequately address threats of violence on the platform.
“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 announcements from Amazon and Apple come a day after
Google suspended Parler from its Play Store app marketplace, citing violations of requirements for sufficient moderation of content for apps it distributes. 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 risen since November as larger social-network operators such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. have become more aggressive in policing content. On Friday, Twitter banned President Trump’s personal account, sparking criticism from conservatives online who felt the effort was biased against them.
Parler has positioned itself as an alternative to larger platforms. Its rules don’t prohibit hate speech and false information while banning spam, threats of violence and other illegal activity.
Parler executives told The Wall Street Journal it has been working to bolster its content-moderation efforts and sharing such information with large tech companies concerned about its practices.
In the past few days, Parler doubled its team of volunteer moderators—called “jurors”—to more than a thousand and instructed them to search “hot” hashtags for incitement, a more proactive approach than what was used previously, said Jeffrey Wernick, Parler’s operating chief. The company had 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.
However, Parler executives said, the tech companies said those efforts haven’t gone far enough. 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.”
Social Media in the Spotlight
While curbs on Parler implemented by Google and Apple would affect app usage, Amazon’s announcement has far greater import, effectively taking Parler’s website offline and no longer storing Parler’s data. In Apple’s case, the App Store is the only means to download mobile apps on Apple devices and Parler’s removal means the app can’t be downloaded on devices where it isn’t already present or updated on devices where it is.
Amazon, the world’s largest cloud-computing company, notified Parler on Saturday that it would suspend the company’s account, citing a violation of its terms of service. 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.
The latest decisions come as big tech companies are under scrutiny in Washington for the power they hold over their digital worlds. 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.”
—Aaron Tilley contributed to this article.
Write to Keach Hagey at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com
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