Apple, Google, Amazon ban Parler; conservatives decry censorship

This illustration picture shows social media application logo from Parler displayed on a smartphone with its website in the background in Arlington, Virginia, on July 2, 2020. Amid rising turmoil in social media, Parler is gaining with prominent political conservatives who say their voices are being silenced by Silicon Valley giants. Parler, founded in Nevada in 2018, bills itself as an alternative to "ideological suppression" at other social networks. | OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Conservatives, including “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, blasted Apple, Google, and Amazon for banning the social networking app Parler based on the claim that it allowed violent comments before pro-Trump protesters and others breached the U.S. Capitol building last week.

At midnight on Sunday, “Amazon will be shutting off all of our servers in an attempt to completely remove free speech off the internet,” Parler Chief Executive John Matze wrote on the networking app Saturday.

Hours earlier, Matze had written, “Amazon, Google, and Apple purposefully did this as a coordinated effort knowing our options would be limited.”

Matze said Apple will not restore the app “until we give up free speech, institute broad and invasive policies like Twitter and Facebook and we become a surveillance platform by pursuing guilt of those who use Parler before innocence.”

Responding to the ban and supporting Parler, Robertson said millions of people use the platform “to share Jesus and hear the Gospel.”

“You can’t pull the plug on Jesus," he wrote.

“They don’t mention that in the mainstream media. Now there’s a joint effort by Big Tech companies to shut us down. We’ll be on Parler till Amazon pulls the plug, and we’ll be back here hollering about Jesus when Parler finds a new home.”

Apple claimed it has “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,” according to CNET. It sought to explain that “Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety. We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues.”

Google has also said it will restore Parler only when it moderates its service better.

Matze argued against the claim that Parler was banned due to violence. “The community disagrees as we hit number 1 on their store today. The same day ‘Hand Mike Pence,’ a disgusting violent suggestion, was trending nationally on Twitter, displaying the horrible double standard Apple and their Big Tech pack apply to the community.”

The CEO made it clear that "violence and coordinating riots ... and insurrections has no place on social media," and noted that "most people on Parler are non-violent people."

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee also called out Big Tech's double standard, writing on his website that there are “countless legitimate users on Parler, including me.”

“These tech giants have allowed leftist groups such as Antifa and BLM to use their sites to organize protests that turned into riots, they allow violent rhetoric and death threats aimed at conservatives, and they’ve even turned a blind eye to Iran posting ‘death to America’ rhetoric. But they ban the U.S. President and those who support him,” he wrote.

Huckabee said Republicans in Congress “made a big mistake in not reining in their partisan monopolistic practices when they had the chance.”

But that cannot be expected now, the former governor added. “But I expect to see a flood of lawsuits following this, along with product boycotts and a mass exodus of millions of users.”

Huckabee asked, “But where will they go if these leftist corporations abuse their power to strangle or force censorship onto alternative sites?”

Matze said Google didn’t have a conversation with Parler about an objective standard. “Our position is that all the content they wanted us to remove was already removed or existed only on Twitter.”

He said Google employees met with some staff of Parler a week earlier through a Zoom call. “After they realized the call was being recorded, they asked for clarity. Then they claimed they didn’t know how to properly use Zoom and asked to reschedule the call. They never did and we have not spoken since.”

He said he heard about their decision in the press.

"We value free speech per what the U.S. constitution allows," Matze stated. "What the media is doing is by continuing to attack is disgusting. We need to get together and Parley and heal and move on.”

He said Parler is now rebuilding from scratch. “We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business.”

The bans come after pro-Trump protesters who claim voter fraud impacted the election outcome breached the Capitol building on Wednesday and forced an evacuation on the day when Congress was scheduled to count Electoral College votes and confirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory. The riot led to five deaths.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that President Trump had been banned from the platform “indefinitely” and for “at least the next two weeks” following the rioting at the Capitol.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.

Twitter followed suit. “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in a statement.

President Trump responded. “I predicted this would happen,” he said in a statement. “We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!”

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