Parler, the far-right Twitter alternative, is struggling. The app was banned by Google and Apple over the weekend, but the worst blow came when Amazon announced on Sunday that it was kicking Parler off its servers. As a result, the site has been offline all week and scrambling to find a new host. Parler is suing in hopes of receiving an emergency motion to force Amazon to restore its services, but a court filing made on Tuesday by Amazon illustrates just how vile and dangerous the rhetoric on the site really was.
In the filing, which was first reported by the Seattle Times and obtained by Mic, the e-commerce giant shows how exactly Parler violated its terms of service, and describes Parler's content moderation style as a "hands-off approach."
Amazon claims it reported to Parler "content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens." Parler was made aware of this content on multiple occasions between November 2020 and January 2021, according to the lawsuit, including more than 100 examples that Amazon says it reported to Parler’s chief policy officer.
Among those posts, which are documented in the court filing, were blatant calls to kill political opponents, elected officials, and public figures. "On January 20th we need to start systematicly [sic] assassinating [sic] #liberal leaders, liberal activists, #blm leaders and supporters," one post read. Another included a call to "Shoot the police that protect these shitbag senators right in the head then make the senator grovel a bit before capping they ass." Other posts contained violent, white supremacist rhetoric. "White people need to ignite their racial identity and rain down suffering and death like a hurricane upon zionists," one user wrote. “We need to act like our forefathers did Kill [Black and Jewish people] all Leave no victims or survivors,” another stated. Amazon included 15 such examples in its court filing.
Among the people receiving death threats in the small sampling of posts highlighted by Amazon were Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Bill Gates, George Soros, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Adam Schiff, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer, former President Barack Obama, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and Stacey Abrams.
The highly violent, dangerous content only increased following the January 6 insurrection, in which Trump supporters rushed the Capitol with the intention of killing lawmakers and preventing election results from being certified. Over the course of the days following the Capitol riots, Amazon claims that it continued to show Parler examples of posts that clearly violate the company's terms of service. According to the court filing, Parler's CEO John Matze, Jr., told Amazon that the company had a backlog of 26,000 reports of posts that violated community standards but remained on the platform, and said that the company relied largely on volunteers to identify and remove the troubling content.
With Parler unable or unwilling to take down all of the many posts that contain threats of violence, Amazon booted the platform from its services. To sprinkle a little salt in the wound, Amazon noted that Parler's CEO said the platform would be down for "less then [sic] 12 hours" if Amazon terminated their agreement, and stated that Parler doesn't rely on Amazon's infrastructure. Oops.