Social media platform favoured by many Trump supporters suspended by Amazon, Apple, Google over violent content

April 13, 2021

Apple and Amazon will suspend a social media platform described as a “free speech” Twitter clone from their App Store and web hosting service respectively, saying it has not taken adequate measures to prevent the spread of posts inciting violence.

Key points:

  • Apple says social networking service Parler has not taken adequate measures to prevent the spread of posts inciting violence
  • Parler CEO John Matze says the same standards are not being applied to other social media sites
  • An expert has reject arguments from US conservatives Mr Trump’s social media bans breach free speech rights

The action against the social networking service, Parler, follows a similar move by Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Parler is favoured by many supporters of US President Donald Trump, who was permanently suspended from Twitter on Friday, and it is seen as a haven for people expelled from Twitter.

Apple had earlier given Parler 24 hours to submit a detailed moderation plan, following complaints it was being used to “plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities”.

But in a statement Apple said: “Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety.”

It said it was removing the app “until they resolve these issues”.

Parler CEO John Matze complained on his site of being scapegoated.

“Standards not applied to Twitter, Facebook or even Apple themselves apply to Parler,” he said.

He said he “won’t cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech”.

What is Parler?

Donald Trump's picture on his Parler profile, with the words Donald Trump's picture on his Parler profile, with the words

Donald Trump’s supporters are flocking to a new social media site that promises to protect free speech.

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Amazon’s move effectively takes the site offline unless it can find a new company to host its services.

Amazon suspended Parler from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) unit, for violating terms of services by failing to effectively deal with a steady increase in violent content on the social networking service, BuzzFeed News reported.

AWS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AWS plans to suspend Parler’s account effective from 11:59 pmon Sunday.

Losing access to the app stores of Google and Apple — whose operating systems power hundreds of millions of smartphones — severely limits Parler’s reach, though it will continue to be accessible via web browsers.

US President Donald Trump has been either banned or restricted on several social media platforms following riots at the US Capitol Building.

The violence followed months of Mr Trump repeating baseless claims online about election fraud following November’s election.

Online speech experts expect social media companies led by Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube to more vigorously police hate speech and incitement in the wake of the Capitol rebellion.

University of California-Irvine law professor David Kaye, a former UN special rapporteur on free speech, believes the Parlers of the world will also face pressure from the public and law enforcement, as will little-known sites where further pre-inauguration disruption is now apparently being organised.

Read more about US politics

They include MeWe, Wimkin, and Stormfront, according to a report released by The Althea Group, which tracks disinformation.

Professor Kaye rejected arguments by US conservatives including the President’s former UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, that the Trump ban savaged the US constitution’s first amendment, which prohibits the Government from restricting free expression.

“Silencing people, not to mention the President of the US, is what happens in China not our country,” Ms Haley said on Twitter.

Professor Kaye said companies also had freedom of speech.

“It’s not like the platforms’ rules are draconian. People don’t get caught in violations unless they do something clearly against the rules,” he said.

“The companies have their freedom of speech too.”