Far right-friendly Parler hit further headwinds over the weekend after the social networking service reportedly removed a post by pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood, where he threatened violence against Vice President Mike Pence.
This comes as Parler will likely be knocked offline for a week after Google and Apple removed it from their app stores and Amazon said it would boot it off its web hosting service, severely limiting its reach to its more than 10 million users after the app was among those used to organize the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Wood’s message violated the company’s terms of service and was removed, Parler chief executive John Matze told Mediaite.
“Get the firing squads ready. Pence goes FIRST,” Wood wrote Thursday on Parler, according to Mediaite.
Woods has responded on his Parler account: “The use of rhetorical hyperbole is NOT unlawful,” he wrote, further laying out a punishment for treason and stating only law enforcement can administer it. “Parler should NOT chill free speech including rhetorical hyperbole.”
Wood was permanently banned from Twitter after he promoted the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Amazon struck another blow Saturday. It suspended Parler from its web hosting services effective 11:59 p.m. PT Sunday, BuzzFeed reported late Saturday, citing a letter it had obtained that mentions 98 examples of Parler posts that “encourage and incite violence.” Amazon declined to comment on the suspension.
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Parler didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment, but Matze wrote in a post on his site that the social network could soon be “unavailable on the Internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch.”
On Sunday, Matze said in an interview on Fox News that the site will try to “get back online as quickly as possible.” He added that the ban from Big Tech on the app could put the company out of business.
“Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,” Matze said on Fox News. “It would put anybody out of business. This thing could destroy anybody.”
The social network, launched in 2018, became popular among conservatives and an unmoderated home to more extreme views in 2020 when Facebook and Twitter tightened up their content moderation and labeling.
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 will continue to be accessible via web browser.
Losing Amazon Web Services will mean Parler needs to scramble to find another web host, in addition to the re-engineering.
On Friday, Google yanked the social media app from its app store because it posed a “public safety threat.”
Apple followed suit Saturday evening. While the social media app was the top free app Saturday, Apple said in a statement sent to USA TODAY that it has suspended Parler.
“We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity,” Apple’s statement said. “Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety.”
The two-year-old service 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.
Supporters say Parler is preserving free speech and is correcting for the overreach of the mainstream social media platforms, which applied labels to or limited the reach of many of President Donald Trump’s misleading posts during the week of the election.
Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were blocked from posting “indefinitely” on Thursday. Twitter took a stronger step by permanently suspending Trump from its platform on Friday night.
Contributing: Jessica Guynn, Josh Rivera, Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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