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Parler squeezed as Trump seeks new online megaphone

Parler lost its web platform when Amazon booted it.

President Donald Trump has been kicked off of most mainstream social media platforms following his supporters’ siege on the U.S. Capitol. But it remains to be seen how fast or where — if anywhere — on the internet he will be able to reach his followers.

The far right-friendly Parler had been the leading candidate, at least until Google and Apple removed it from their app stores and Amazon booted it off its web hosting service just after midnight Pacific time early Monday.

Parler’s CEO said that could knock it offline for a week, though that might prove optimistic. And even if it finds a friendlier web-hosting service, without a smartphone app, it’s hard to imagine Parler gaining mainstream success.

The 2-year-old magnet for the far right claims more than 12 million users, though mobile app analytics firm Sensor Tower puts the number at 10 million worldwide, with 8 million in the U.S. That’s a fraction of the 89 million followers Trump had on Twitter.

Still, Parler might be attractive to Trump since it’s where his sons Eric and Don Jr. are already active.

Parler hit headwinds, though, on Friday as Google yanked its smartphone app from its app store for allowing postings that seek “to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.” Apple followed suit on Saturday evening after giving Parler 24 hours to address complaints it was being used to “plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.” Public safety issues will need to be resolved before it is restored, Apple said.

A message seeking comment from Parler was sent Sunday on whether the company plans to change its policies and enforcement around these issues.

Amazon struck another blow Saturday, informing Parler it would need to look for a new web-hosting service effective midnight Sunday. It reminded Parler in a letter, first reported by Buzzfeed, that it had informed it in the past few weeks of 98 examples of posts “that clearly encourage and incite violence” and said the platform “poses a very real risk to public safety.”

When asked for comment, an Amazon spokesperson referred the Associated Press to the letter obtained by Buzzfeed.

Parler CEO John Matze decried the punishments as “a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace. We were too successful too fast,” he said in a Saturday night post, saying it was possible Parler would be unavailable for up to a week “as we rebuild from scratch.”

“Every vendor, from text message services, to e-mail providers, to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,” Matze said Sunday on Fox New Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” He said while the company is trying to get back online as quickly as possible, it’s “having a lot of trouble, because every vendor we talk to says they won’t work with us, because, if Apple doesn’t approve and Google doesn’t approve, they won’t.”

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 had continued to be accessible via web browser. Losing Amazon Web Services means Parler needs to scramble to find another web host, in addition to the re-engineering.

Trump may also launch his own platform. But that won’t happen overnight, and free speech experts anticipate growing pressure on all social media platforms to curb incendiary speech as Americans take stock of Wednesday’s violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a Trump-incited mob.

While initially arguing their need to be neutral on speech, Twitter and Facebook gradually yielded to public pressure drawing the line especially when the so-called Plandemic video emerged early in the coronavirus pandemic urging people not to wear masks, noted civic media professor Ethan Zuckerman of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Zuckerman expects the Trump de-platforming may spur important online shifts. First, there may be an accelerated splintering of the social media world along ideological lines.

“Trump will pull a lot of audience wherever he goes,” he said. That could mean more platforms with smaller, more ideologically isolated audiences.

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Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sonja Fitch

    January 11, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Shut down Fox News! Fox News is the biggest bunch of liars! It is not free speech to lie!!!! Fox News is compromised! Fox News are liars!!!!! Shut em down!

  2. GD

    January 11, 2021 at 11:13 am

    The outrage for profit has to go as just filled with lies does no one any good except those making money on it.
    This coup needs to be prosecuted to the fullest and Trump needs to go to jail for making it happen every step of the way inviting the worst of the worst Fascist, far right thugs to DC then give them marching orders to go to the capital and fight against the weak, democrats needs a long term in jail to stop the election certification.
    Not to mention kill Pence!
    If one wants to see what a foul person Trump is, just look at how he treated Pence sending his thugs to kill him.

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