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Cloud Providers in the Channel Flee From Parler

Amazon Web Services isn’t the only vendor to cut ties with the right-wing social media outlet.

Kelly Teal

January 11, 2021

4 Min Read
Social media on smartphone, laptop

In the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, four cloud companies well known to the channel – including AWS – now have kicked right-wing social media outlet Parler off their platforms.

As of the time of publication, Amazon Web Services, Twilio, Okta and Zendesk (and Apple and Google, via their respective app stores) all had cut off Parler’s access. Participation on that particular outlet surged last week after Twitter permanently banned President Trump, and a number of his affiliates and supporters. Facebook followed suit not long after. Its ban, however, is only known to be “indefinite.”

On the cloud provider side, Amazon was the first to mobilize against Parler. AWS had served as Parler’s website host. That ended at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Jan. 10. On Saturday, AWS told Amy Peikoff, Parler’s chief policy officer, that it had collected 98 examples, including screenshots, of “posts that clearly encourage and incite violence.”

“Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in … violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms,” Amazon said in a letter to Parler, according to The Guardian. “It also seems that Parler is still trying to determine its position on content moderation. You remove some [content] when contacted by us or others, but not always with urgency. Your CEO recently stated publicly that he doesn’t ‘feel responsible for any of this, and neither should the platform.'”

“We cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,” Amazon concluded.

Twilio, which authenticates users and passwords, also has axed Parler.

“Twilio’s terms of service and acceptable use policy make clear what we expect from our customers,” the company wrote on Twitter. “Based on activity on the Parler platform, we determined they were in violation of our AUP, specifically prohibiting the spread of disinformation, encouraging violence, destruction of property and other illegal activity, threatening public safety, and harming Twilio’s reputation. We identified posts on Parler that advocated for civil war, spread malicious and fraudulent messages about the election, called on users to assassinate government officials, and advocated for racially motivated violence. The account is suspended indefinitely.”

(Incidentally, since Twilio broke ties with Parler, hackers reportedly have been able to gain full privileges to the social media site and publicize user information.)

Meanwhile, Okta and Zendesk each have shut down Parler as well.

“We were notified that Parler was using a free trial of Okta’s product and we have terminated Parler’s access to the Okta platform,” Okta, an identity management software developer, wrote in a Jan. 10 tweet. “While we support organizations across the political spectrum, our platform will not be used for threats of violence and illegal activity.”

Finally, Zendesk, too, joined its colleagues. Parler was using Zendesk for support. But that changed just before midnight on Jan. 10 when Zendesk suspended Parler’s account, according to CloudTech. Zendesk made its decision after a Reddit user called out Parler’s reliance on Zendesk. Here’s the exchange:

“Zendesk has a user content and conduct policy which all customers are required to abide to. If you ever see a violation of that policy occur, feel free to flag to through the process outlined above, though we are aware of your concern via this post.”

Parler CEO John Matze now is trying to bring his self-described “free speech” platform back online. He’s encountering obstacles though. It appears no well-known cloud providers want to host Parler. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong wrote in a Jan. 10 blog that Parler’s options for a new home look limited.

“Many sites with far-right and similarly controversial content have ultimately ended up using a provider in a supply chain that relies on Russian connectivity, thus dodging the Internet norms that prevail in the rest of the world,” she said.

About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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