Parler CEO sues Amazon for antitrust violations after app shut down

Parler CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that 'we will likely be down longer than expected' as tech firms distance themselves from the site

Parler CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that 'we will likely be down longer than expected' as tech firms distance themselves from the site

Parler CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that ‘we will likely be down longer than expected’ as tech firms distance themselves from the site

Parler on Monday moved its domain name to a right-wing web-hosting firm after announcing it will sue Amazon for antitrust violations for scrubbing the site from the web overnight.   

The right wing social media site had already vanished from the Apple and Google app stores after they cut ties with the platform in the wake of the deadly mob attack at the US Capitol.

Parler then went offline shortly after 3am EST Monday after Amazon booted the platform off its web hosting service, effectively shutting the site down until it can find a new hosting partner or fund its own servers.

The site has since moved its domain name from DreamHost to Epik, domainnamewire.com reports. Web services company Epik hosted Gab.com when it was dropped and helped 8chan get back online. CEO Robert Monster previously said: ‘De-platforming a haven of free speech is not about left or right.’

It emerged Monday that all of Parler’s deleted posts have been archived. The hacker who has gathered them together, @donk_enby, told Gizmodo they provide ‘very incriminating’ evidence. 

CEO John Matze said he was doing more than Facebook and Twitter to try and remove violent content from his app. In a statement Monday morning self declared libertarian Matze said: ‘Evaluated objectively, our system worked as well or better than the methods used by our competitors, while adhering to our principles.’

Parler then announced it will sue Amazon and ask a federal judge to order the tech giant to reinstate the platform, The Hill first reported. 

The 18-page suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle against Amazon Web Services (AWS). It claims: ‘AWS’s decision to effectively terminate Parler’s account is apparently motivated by political animus. It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter.’ 

It notes: ‘Friday night one of the top trending tweets on Twitter was ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ But AWS has no plans nor has it made any threats to suspend Twitter’s account.’

Parler are thought to have targeted AWS, rather than Apple and Google, as ‘both the apps and the website are written to work with AWS’s technology’. ‘Without AWS, Parler is finished as it has no way to get online’, the suit adds. 

Losing access to the app stores of Google and Apple severely limits Parler’s reach to millions of smartphones. Losing Amazon Web Services means Parler needs to find another web host to be accessed on a browser. 

Matze argued ‘up until Friday afternoon it seemed Apple, Amazon and Google agreed’ the app had been effective in their efforts to remove ‘objectionable content’, adding: ‘You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don’t count us out.’ 

Matze had initially said that Parler might be unavailable for ‘up to a week as we rebuild from scratch’, but now says it might be offline for longer. Google and Apple both booted Trump friendly Gab from their app stores in 2017 and it was left internet-homeless for a time. It now hosts through its own servers.

Critics have continued to slammed the big tech giants for purging free speech in the wake of Donald Trump’s Twitter ban.

Fox New host Jeanine Pirro later argued Parler’s deplatforming ‘is akin to a Kristallnacht’. In 1938, Nazis in Germany and Austria vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses during an attack that became known as Kristallnacht.  

She said: ‘They gave us a taste of this pre-election when they suppressed the Hunter Biden story. And now that they’ve won, what we’re seeing is a kind of censorship that is akin to a Kristallnacht, where they decide what we can communicate about.’  

Scroll down for the full suit against AWS 

Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter, Parler is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday's attack at the Capitol

Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter, Parler is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday's attack at the Capitol

Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter, Parler is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday’s attack at the Capitol 

Shortly after 3am EST, Parler disappeared from the web with an error message saying 'we can't connect to the server' after Amazon pulled the plug

Shortly after 3am EST, Parler disappeared from the web with an error message saying 'we can't connect to the server' after Amazon pulled the plug

Shortly after 3am EST, Parler disappeared from the web with an error message saying ‘we can’t connect to the server’ after Amazon pulled the plug 

The app was removed from the Google app store after conservative social media users flocked to the site in the wake of the Capitol attack

The app was removed from the Google app store after conservative social media users flocked to the site in the wake of the Capitol attack

The app was removed from the Google app store after conservative social media users flocked to the site in the wake of the Capitol attack 

In his final post before the 3am deadline, Matze said that 'most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us'

In his final post before the 3am deadline, Matze said that 'most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us'

In his final post before the 3am deadline, Matze said that ‘most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us’

What are Parler’s options now?

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 had continued to be accessible via web browser. 

The decision by Amazon Web Services to remove Parler means it now needs to scramble to find another web host in addition to ‘rebuilding the site from scratch’.

Google and Apple both booted Gab from their app stores in 2017 and it was left internet-homeless for a time the following year due to anti-Semitic posts attributed to the man accused of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Microsoft also terminated a web-hosting contract. 

It now hosts through its own servers, so that is an option. 

Or it can find another server willing to host the site. Max Aliapoulios, a computer science Ph. D candidate told Business Insider: ‘It is realistic to expect that Parler will find another provider to host their services like AWS. 

‘That being said, now the precedent is set and Parler will likely always have an uphill battle with finding a home to host them on the internet.’ 

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Donald Trump Jr. said it was a ‘purge of conservative ideas and thought leaders.’  

Piers Morgan wrote: ‘It has been quite sinister to witness the speed in which the tech world has conspired to use the Capitol riot to silence not just Trump but entire right-wing social media platforms like Parler which has been effectively driven offline by Google, Apple and Amazon.’ 

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Ben Wizner told The New York Times: ‘There is a difference between a social media platform like Twitter…deciding who its members are and what its guidelines should be, and a company like Amazon that really hold the keys to the internet.’

Wizner also pointed to a 2017 quote by CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince when he took down The Daily Stormer who said: ‘I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet… No one should have that power.’ 

Twitter saw its shares drop by 12 per cent Monday as the company braced for pro-Trump protesters outside its San Francisco headquarters.  The tech giant lost $5 billion on the first day of trading after it permanently suspended Trump. Trump friendly platform Gab.com tweeted Monday: ‘Twitter lost $4 Billion today. LOL.’   

Hailed by Donald Trump supporters as a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter – which permanently suspended the president on Friday – Parler is seen as a magnet for the far right and was accused by Apple, Google and Amazon of continuing to allow messages inciting violence after Wednesday’s riot. 

Parler, which Apple claims was used by some of the rioters to help plan the insurrection, was the most-downloaded app in the Apple store on Friday before both Apple and Google cut off its access to their app stores.    

CEO John Matze warned in his final post before the 3am deadline that ‘we will likely be down longer than expected’ as tech firms distance themselves from the ‘free speech’ site. 

‘Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well,’ said Matze, who has labeled the Big Tech moves to isolate his app ‘absolutely disgusting’. 

‘Parler is my final stand on the Internet. I won’t be making an account on any social. Parler is my home,’ he said. He later issued a press release condemning violence and arguing the app has ‘worked hard’ to ‘remove prohibited content’. 

Following Parler’s removal the president’s eldest son retweeted a post which read: ‘The internet was a hell of a lot safer before @Twitter, @Apple, @Google, and @Facebook started protecting us from it’. Don Jr. added: ‘This times 1000.’ 

Republican congressman Devin Nunes, who had an account on Parler, raged at what he said was ‘political censorship’ after Apple and Google removed the app. 

‘Spread the word so your fellow Americans know about this,’ he urged his three million followers on the site. 

Journalist Glenn Greenwald on Sunday accused the tech giants of ‘feigning offense to destroy’ to Parler. He claimed ‘far more violence’ has been planned on Facebook.

Right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro warned on Twitter that ‘the tech bros are making a horrible and dangerous moment significantly more horrible and dangerous’. 

‘There are no consistent standards being applied. There is reactionary deplatforming in the name of one side,’ he claimed. 

‘Everyone on the right is correctly concerned that these same companies are five minutes away from simply removing the ability of conservatives to host content anywhere.’

The social media crackdown has revived a debate over whether tech giants should be treated as ‘publishers’ with the same liability as news providers. 

John Matze founded Parler in 2018 as a 'free-speech driven' alternative to mainstream platforms. He is pictured with his family

John Matze founded Parler in 2018 as a 'free-speech driven' alternative to mainstream platforms. He is pictured with his family

John Matze founded Parler in 2018 as a ‘free-speech driven’ alternative to mainstream platforms. He is pictured with his family 

Twitter saw shares drop 10 per cent in early trading on Monday

Twitter saw shares drop 10 per cent in early trading on Monday

Twitter saw shares drop 10 per cent in early trading on Monday

Trump friendly platform Gab.com tweeted Monday: 'Twitter lost $4 Billion today. LOL'

Trump friendly platform Gab.com tweeted Monday: 'Twitter lost $4 Billion today. LOL'

Trump friendly platform Gab.com tweeted Monday: ‘Twitter lost $4 Billion today. LOL’

The fallout of Twitter‘s permanent ban on Trump continued over the weekend, as his eldest son lashed out at the social media site and loyalists fled to alternatives such as Gab and Parler. 

‘The world is laughing at America & Mao, Lenin, & Stalin are smiling. Big tech is able to censor the President? Free speech is dead & controlled by leftist overlords,’ Don Trump Jr said in a tweet on Saturday, urging followers to join his mailing list, ‘In case I’m next.’ 

Parler is bankrolled by prominent conservative donor Rebekah Mercer 

Parler, which styles itself as a ‘free speech-driven’ space, is bankrolled by hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer’s daughter Rebekah, the Wall Street Journal reported in November. 

Rebekah has described her as a co-founder of the site with CEO John Matze.  

‘John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,’ she wrote in a post on the site this fall.

‘The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online,’ she added.

Hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer is pictured with his daughter Rebekah in 2017

Hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer is pictured with his daughter Rebekah in 2017

Hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer is pictured with his daughter Rebekah in 2017

Matze replied to the post: ‘Bekah is a great friend, an American patriot, and most importantly committed to the Parler vision of neutrality and data privacy. We are grateful for her support since 2018, and her early faith in the founders has enabled us to reach these heights. #transparency.’  

After WSJ reported Rebekah’s links to Parler she issued a statement saying that her multi-millionaire father Robert was not an investor in the site – while sources close to the clan claimed that the investment was a family affair. 

Rebekah referred to herself as a co-founder of Parler in a post on the site in November

Rebekah referred to herself as a co-founder of Parler in a post on the site in November

Rebekah referred to herself as a co-founder of Parler in a post on the site in November

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On Friday, Twitter also permanently banned two Trump loyalists — former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell — as part of a broader purge of accounts promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory. 

Its CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly made the extraordinary call to permanently suspend Trump’s account while he was vacationing in French Polynesia. 

After Twitter red-flagged some of Trump’s posts last year, the president demanded that the website be stripped of a ‘liability shield’ known as Section 230. 

Fox News personality Dan Bongino, a supporter of Parler, raged that ‘the greatest threats to liberty are the destructive tech tyrants who have acted as publishers in their ongoing wars on conservatives and free speech’.

‘This will be my final post on this anti-American platform,’ he wrote on Twitter on Friday.   

But concern over Big Tech’s power is not confined to the American right – with Angela Merkel’s spokesman today calling it ‘problematic’ that free speech could be obstructed by ‘decision of the management of social media platforms’.  

Lionel Barber, the former editor of London’s Financial Times, said on Sunday that ‘now we can agree that platforms are publishers and that there are some limits to free speech, we need a serious debate about social media’s influence in a modern democracy’. 

And UK government minister Matt Hancock said the Trump ban ‘raises a very important question, which is it means that the social media platforms are taking editorial decisions’. 

Many Democrats also want to rein in the power of Big Tech, with dozens of attorneys general launching a lawsuit last month in a bid to break up Facebook.  

Launched in 2018, Parler operates much like Twitter with profiles people can follow and ‘parleys’ instead of tweets. 

‘Our mission is to create a social platform in the spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,’ it boasts. ‘We prefer that removing community members or member-provided content be kept to the absolute minimum.’ 

The site claims more than 12million users in total, although analytics firm Sensor Tower puts the number at10 million worldwide, with eight million in the US. 

Founded by computer engineer Matze and Republican donor Rebekah Mercer, it attracts a mixture of far-right users and more traditional Republican voices – and is already used by the president’s children Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka. 

Fox News star host Sean Hannity has 7.6million followers on Parler, while his colleague Tucker Carlson has 4.4million.

There are also elected officials, including Nunes and South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem.  

Trump supporters flocked to the app after the president was banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites in the wake of the violence at the Capitol. 

But despite speculation that Trump himself would join Parler, he had no known account by the time the site was shut down today. 

Late on Friday, Google announced it was banning Parler from its app store because of posts inciting violence and a casual approach to moderating content. 

Apple followed suit a day later after alleging that Parler was being used to ‘plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities’.  

Apple had given Parler 24 hours to submit a detailed moderation plan, claiming that participants had used the service to co-ordinate Wednesday’s siege. 

Public safety issues will need to be resolved before access to Parler is restored, Apple said. 

The moves by Apple and Google drastically limited Parler’s reach but did not completely block the app, because people who already had it could keep using it while new users could access it on a web browser. 

But Amazon’s decision to strip Parler of access to its Amazon Web Services hosting platform directly threatens the site’s online presence.   

The president's daughter Ivanka Trump was among those who had set up a Parler account as conservatives dissatisfied with Twitter flocked to the site

The president's daughter Ivanka Trump was among those who had set up a Parler account as conservatives dissatisfied with Twitter flocked to the site

The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump was among those who had set up a Parler account as conservatives dissatisfied with Twitter flocked to the site 

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host favored by Donald Trump, also had an account on the page

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host favored by Donald Trump, also had an account on the page

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host favored by Donald Trump, also had an account on the page 

The journalist tweeted Sunday to accuse the tech giants of 'feigning offense to destroy' the app after Donald Trump was on Friday kicked off of most mainstream social media platforms

The journalist tweeted Sunday to accuse the tech giants of 'feigning offense to destroy' the app after Donald Trump was on Friday kicked off of most mainstream social media platforms

The journalist tweeted Sunday to accuse the tech giants of ‘feigning offense to destroy’ the app after Donald Trump was on Friday kicked off of most mainstream social media platforms

Amazon said it had informed Parler of 98 examples of posts ‘that clearly encourage and incite violence’ and said the platform ‘poses a very real risk to public safety.’ 

‘We’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms of service,’ said an Amazon letter first reported by Buzzfeed. 

Given the riot at the Capitol this week, the letter continued, there was a ‘serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence.’

Parler was given 24 hours to find an alternative host but, Matze said, ‘Where are you gonna find 300-to-500 servers in a 24-hour window… It’s an impossible feat.’   

‘What they are doing is unprecedented, unfounded and absolutely disgusting. Shameful,’ Matze said of the tech giants. 

‘Our mission is free speech, democracy and us the people having the power. The elite don’t want us to be free, they want hate, division and power.’  

Tech giants have moved to shut down what they say is dangerous online content after a Trump-incited mob overran the seat of American democracy (pictured)

Tech giants have moved to shut down what they say is dangerous online content after a Trump-incited mob overran the seat of American democracy (pictured)

Tech giants have moved to shut down what they say is dangerous online content after a Trump-incited mob overran the seat of American democracy (pictured) 

As the crackdown gathers speed, conservative sites might have to follow the example of another site popular on the far right, Gab.

That platform drew fierce criticism in 2018 when investigators found that the shooter who killed 11 people in an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue had earlier posted anti-Semitic messages on the site.

Gab, already at loggerheads with Apple and Google, subsequently installed its own servers so as not to be dependent on outside providers.

Meanwhile, the DLive video streaming service, used by several protesters during the invasion of the Capitol, has closed seven of its channels and pulled more than 100 videos off the site. 

How Parler CEO John Matze married ‘Russian he met during her US road trip’ before founding ‘free-speech’ platform that is now bankrolled by conservative donor Rebekah Mercer and used by MAGA fans 

By Lauren Fruen for DailyMail.com  

John Matze founded Parler in 2018 as a ‘free-speech driven’ alternative to mainstream platforms. 

The self described libertarian soon began courting right-leaning users as prominent supporters of Donald Trump moved there.

And Parler had been the leading candidate for the president to continuing voicing his opinion, at least until Google and Apple removed it from their app stores and Amazon decided to boot it off its web hosting service Sunday. 

Not much it known about Matze’s personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas.

She was said to have been on a two week road trip around the United States, TED Talk host Dave Troy reported in November.  

Alina’s Instagram pictures show the couple have at least one child. In one picture she hold rifles and wears a t-shirt which reads: ‘Trust me, I’m a Russian spy.’ 

The couple appear to live a luxury lifestyle with numerous vacation pictures taken with their young child. 

Not much it known about Matze's personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova, pictured, after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas

Not much it known about Matze's personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova, pictured, after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas

Not much it known about Matze’s personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova, pictured, after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas

Alina's Instagram pictures show the couple have at least one child

Alina's Instagram pictures show the couple have at least one child

Alina’s Instagram pictures show the couple have at least one child

After graduating in 2014 Matze, who studied math, German and business at the University of Denver,teamed up with fellow alumni Jared Thomson, now chief technical officer, to create Parler. 

Matze told Forbes in July last year: ‘I don’t have too many friends, but the ones I do have, we just talk amongst ourselves about ideas—crazy ones, easy ones, whatever.’ 

He told the magazine he ‘does not watch TV’ but instead ‘gets everything off Parler’. 

Alina shared this image of her husband appearing on Fox News to her Instagram account

Alina shared this image of her husband appearing on Fox News to her Instagram account

Alina shared this image of her husband appearing on Fox News to her Instagram account 

One of Alina's Instagram picture shows her promoting her husband's app Parler

One of Alina's Instagram picture shows her promoting her husband's app Parler

One of Alina’s Instagram picture shows her promoting her husband’s app Parler 

Matze’s app is now bankrolled by hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer’s daughter Rebekah, the Wall Street Journal reported in November. 

The two-year-old magnet for the far right 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. 

Rebekah has described herself as a co-founder of the site with Matze. She is also thought to have studied at the University of Denver.  

‘John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,’ she wrote in a post on the site this fall.

‘The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online,’ she added. 

Matze replied to the post: ‘Bekah is a great friend, an American patriot, and most importantly committed to the Parler vision of neutrality and data privacy. We are grateful for her support since 2018, and her early faith in the founders has enabled us to reach these heights. #transparency.’  

After WSJ reported Rebekah’s links to Parler she issued a statement saying that her multi-millionaire father Robert was not an investor in the site – while sources close to the clan claimed that the investment was a family affair.   

Those who have joined Parler include commentator Candace Owens, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who handcuffed herself to the door of Twitter’s New York office in November 2018 to protest a ban on her by the site.         

Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr. are also already active on the site. 

Not much it known about Matze's personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas

Not much it known about Matze's personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas

She was said to have been on a two week road trip around the United States, TED Talk host Dave Troy reported in November

She was said to have been on a two week road trip around the United States, TED Talk host Dave Troy reported in November

Not much it known about Matze’s personal life but he is reported to have married Russian Alina Mukhutdinova after the pair are said to have met in Las Vegas. She was said to have been on a two week road trip around the United States, TED Talk host Dave Troy reported in November.

The couple appear to live a luxury lifestyle with numerous vacation pictures

The couple appear to live a luxury lifestyle with numerous vacation pictures

The couple appear to live a luxury lifestyle with numerous vacation pictures

Parler hit headwinds, though, on Friday as Google yanked its smartphone app from its app store for allowing postings that seek ‘to incite ongoing violence in the U.S.’ 

Apple followed suit on Saturday evening after giving Parler 24 hours to address complaints it was being used to ‘plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities.’ Public safety issues will need to be resolved before it is restored, Apple said. 

Amazon struck another blow Saturday, informing Parler it would need to look for a new web-hosting service effective midnight Sunday.

 It reminded Parler in a letter, first reported by Buzzfeed, that it had informed it in the past few weeks of 98 examples of posts ‘that clearly encourage and incite violence’ and said the platform ‘poses a very real risk to public safety.’ 

Matze decried the punishments as ‘a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace. We were too successful too fast,’ he said in a Saturday night post, saying it was possible Parler would be unavailable for up to a week ‘as we rebuild from scratch.’

‘Every vendor, from text message services, to e-mail providers, to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,’ Matze said Sunday on Fox New Channel’s ‘Sunday Morning Futures.’ 

He said while the company is trying to get back online as quickly as possible, it’s ‘having a lot of trouble, because every vendor we talk to says they won’t work with us, because, if Apple doesn’t approve and Google doesn’t approve, they won’t.’

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. 

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