Parler has gone offline after Amazon made good on its promise to drop the controversial social media site from its AWS web hosting services. Amazon pulled the plug at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time, saying that Parler wasn’t properly moderating its content and the violence being called for on the site posed “a very real risk to public safety.”
Parler CEO John Matze announced on his site early Monday that service would likely be interrupted for a while and he called Parler his “last stand on the internet.”
“I wanted to send everyone on Parler an update. We will likely be down longer than expected,” Matze wrote early Monday. “This is not due to software restrictions — we have our software and everyone’s data ready to go. Rather it’s that Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well.”
Matze, a self-described libertarian, said on Sunday that absolutely nobody wants to do business with him and that large tech companies like Apple and Amazon are colluding to “stifle free speech” by booting Parler from their platforms.
“Every vendor, from text message services to email providers to our lawyers, all ditched us on the same day,” Marze whined to Maria Bartiromo on Sunday during a phone interview on Fox News.
Parler shot to the top of the Apple App store on Saturday after President Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter, leading his neo-fascist followers to look for an alternative social media site. Trump gave a speech on January 6 that incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people dead, and Twitter said it banned Trump to reduce the likelihood of the president inspiring more violence.
But Parler faced new pressure in the wake of the attempted coup at the Capitol to crack down on extremist calls to violence, something that Apple gave the service 24 hours to do before it was pulled on Sunday.
“Well, like I said, they claim that we somehow were responsible for the, you know, what they call the insurrection on the sixth, which, you know, we’ve never allowed violent…. we’ve never allowed any of this stuff on our platforms,” Matze said.
You know, we’ve never allowed any of this stuff on our platform. And we don’t even have a way to coordinate an event on our platform, so they somehow want to make us responsible.”
To be clear, Apple has never blamed Parler for the violence that took place on January 6. The company, like dozens of others, was just jolted awake to the fact that allowing pro-fascist speech on its platforms might literally inspire a coup and bring down duly elected leaders of the U.S. government, such as president-elect Joe Biden.
Bartiromo went into a weird tangent on Trump’s attempt to legislatively destroy Section 230, something that Matze previously opposed. But Matze now says he thinks Section 230 should be abolished, a weird position for someone who’s tasked with moderating a website where he could potentially be held criminally liable without Section 230.
Matze also touched on Amazon’s threats to boot Parler on Sunday, complaining that he didn’t have enough time to find alternative hosting.
“Amazon is the largest cloud storage vendor in the world, and we use them to host our servers, you know, hundreds of them, hundreds of servers. And they gave us… basically they said you have 24 hours to get all of your data and to find new servers,” Matze told Bartiromo.
“So, you know, where are you going to find 300 to 500 servers in the 24 hour window, and how can you send all of the data from everybody out to them in a 24 hour period? It’s an impossible feat. You know, we’re going to handle the best we can to get back online as quickly as possible. But, you know, this is… there’s just some things that are almost basically impossible.”
What kind of content will people now miss with Parler offline? One video that was popular before the site went offline was made by a QAnon adherent who cut together old Trump soundbites to make all subtext an explicitly neo-fascist text.
“January 20th will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again,” the video shows Trump saying, with splashly graphics with things like “the hour has arrived.”
Oddly enough, that’s a real thing that Trump said, but it was from his infamous first inauguration on January 20, 2017. The video ended with a graphic of the United States with the date January 20, 2021 and the QAnon slogan WWG1WGA, which stands for Where We Go One, We Do All.
There was also content on Parler like this message from Milo Yiannopoulos, a far right troll who was booted from Twitter in 2016 for harassment.
Parler is partially owned by Fox News personality Dan Bongino, a fact that was never mentioned during Matze’s interview with Bartiromo on Sunday. Parler has also taken money from Rebekah Mercer, a far right financier of pro-Trump radicalism. Mercer is also the daughter of Robert Mercer, a cofounder of Cambridge Analytica.
While Matze’s company is clearly fighting for its life, Parler is also likely struggling from poor management. You see, Matze isn’t the brightest bulb, as they say. When Matze described how he was feeling on Sunday, he summed it up nicely.
“It’s not just frightening, it’s actually extremely scary,” said Matze.