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Tech giants crack down on Parler for lack of content moderation

Apple and Amazon both cracked down on Parler late Saturday, pulling the app from their Apple store and Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting until the conservative social media platform ramps up content moderation.

“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 to The Hill.

“Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety. We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues,” added the company.

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The platform, which bills itself as an unmoderated alternative to platforms like Twitter, has come under fire amid concerns it was used to coordinate last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

"We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property,” Apple wrote to Parler in a statement obtained by Buzzfeed News. “The app also appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.”

Amazon Web Services on Saturday evening told Parler Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff in an email that the platform has increasingly been used to host violent content and become a threat to public safety. The site will likely go offline entirely Sunday night without a replacement host.

“Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms,” the Amazon Web Services email, obtained by Buzzfeed, reads. “It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service.”

Google also pulled the Parler app from its store last week, citing an “ongoing and urgent public safety threat.”

“We recognize that there can be reasonable debate about content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all violative content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content,” the tech giant said in a statement.

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While Parler heavily emphasizes its lack of content moderation, the platform confirmed to Mediaite this weekend that it has deleted posts by pro-Trump attorney and conspiracy theorist Lin Wood. Wood was also suspended from Twitter last week.

The crackdown comes as Twitter has suspended various users connected to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory and, on Friday night, President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE himself, expressing concerns the president would use his account to foment further violence. 

In the meantime, rival platform Gab reported it has seen its user base grow by 10,000 per hour in the wake of Trump’s ban. Gab, like Parler claims far less content moderation than Twitter and has also become a haven for the far-right.

CEO Andrew Torba tweeted in the early hours of Sunday morning that the site saw 18 million visits Saturday.

Facebook also suspended Trump at least through the end of his term.