Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc are removing Parler from their services in part of a growing backlash after the social media network was among the organizers of Wednesday’s Capitol riot.
Apple removed Speak from its app store, while Amazon’s cloud unit decided to stop hosting the social media company from Sunday evening. They joined Google at Alphabet Inc, which removed the app from its Google Play Store on Friday, saying it had created an “ongoing and urgent threat to public safety”.
Parler, popular with extremist groups looking for an alternative to mainstream social media sites, has come under fire since the Capitol was attacked by a pro-Trump mob. With the tech companies’ move, Parler will end the weekend with no easy access to virtually every smartphone user in the world and look for a new company to host its services.
Apple’s decision came a day after the Cupertino, California-based tech giant threatened to remove the app. He told Parler developers on Friday that they had 24 hours to present Apple with a plan to moderate and filter the service.
A letter sent by Apple to Parler indicates that the social media company has offered to make changes to stay on the App Store. Parler told Apple that it has been “taking this content very seriously” for weeks, that it is implementing a moderation plan “for the time being,” and that according to the letter it would implement a temporary task force.
Apple rejected these efforts as a solution in its statement on how to remove the app. “We continued to see direct threats of violence and incitement to illegal activity,” Apple wrote to Parler on Saturday, adding that the measures “are not sufficient to combat the spread of dangerous and offensive content in your app.”
Also on Saturday, Amazon Web Services wrote to Speak about its decision to suspend its AWS account, according to a letter received from Bloomberg. The largest cloud computing provider said it had notified the social media company of 98 incidents of violent posts in the past few weeks and that Parler’s plans to moderate the content were inadequate.
“We cannot provide services to customers who are unable to identify and remove content that promotes or incites violence against others,” said the letter, signed by the AWS Trust & Safety Team and sent to Amy Peikoff , Chief Policy Officer of Speaking.
BuzzFeed News previously covered Amazon’s plans. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.
The removal of Apple also means that Speaking on the iPhone, iPad and other devices will not be available in the App Store until it demonstrates its ability to “effectively moderate and filter the dangerous and harmful content of your service,” added Apple added.
Apple’s decision to remove the app from the store does not remove versions of Speaking that are already installed on Apple devices. However, Amazon’s decision means the app will only work if Speaking finds a replacement web host. John Matze, Parler’s chief executive officer, said his services could be affected for up to a week.
Apple’s move is arguably more powerful than Google’s, as Android allows apps to be installed through other means than the Google Play Store, while the iPhone and iPad are much more restrictive.
On its App Store page, Parler described itself as “a non-biased, acquittal social medium that focuses on protecting user rights”. The service has grown in popularity with extremists as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc crack down on users who promote violence. Matze said in a Parler post that most of its users are “non-violent people who want to share their opinions”.
“We’re going to do our best to move to a new provider now as there are many competing for our business. However, Amazon, Google and Apple did this on purpose to coordinate and know that our options are limited,” he said . “This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the market.”
Prior to its removal on Saturday, Parler jumped to the top of Apple’s App Store charts and became the most downloaded free app on the store. According to Apptopia data, Parler was ranked 18th among the free apps in the Apple App Store in the past 90 days.
Parler was “used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 that resulted in death, numerous injuries and property destruction (among other things),” Apple said in the Letter from Friday to Parler’s developers threatening to remove the app.