By Sam Schechner 

Social-media platform Parler has sued Amazon.com Inc. after the tech giant abruptly ended web-hosting services to the company, effectively halting its operation.

(This is breaking news; will update.)

Social-media service Parler vanished just before midnight Sunday Pacific time, when Amazon.com Inc. followed through on its threat to stop hosting the public-messaging platform that has exploded in popularity among supporters of President Trump.

The effective disappearance of Parler shows the growing breadth and effect of efforts by big technology companies to restrict content they label as dangerous after last week's mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. Amazon had said in a letter to Parler over the weekend that it had seen a steady increase in violent content on the site and said Parler's efforts to remove it were inadequate.

Parler's effective disappearance came shortly after Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google removed the Parler app for mobile devices from their app stores -- making it difficult for new users to download -- without shutting down the service. Amazon's move had a far more severe impact because it provides the back-end servers that host Parler's website and databases, as it does for a large array of other prominent companies.

Parler Chief Executive John Matze didn't respond to an email sent to his parler.com email address, or to a message sent via his LinkedIn profile. But he said in a post on Parler on Saturday that it was possible the service would be unavailable for as long as a week while it found new hosting services.

"This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace," Mr. Matze wrote.

Parler executives have previously told The Wall Street Journal that the company has been working to bolster its content-moderation efforts. In recent days, they said, Parler doubled its team of volunteer moderators -- called "jurors" -- to more than a thousand and instructed them to search popular hashtags for incitement, a more proactive approach than what was used previously. The company also instructed its jurors to hunt down any content suggesting violence within the comment sections of its more highly trafficked sections, and planned to hire employees to bolster these efforts, they said.

But tech companies told Parler they believed those efforts were insufficient.

In a letter over the weekend, Amazon Web Services, the unit that provides Amazon's cloud services, said Parler wasn't, in Amazon's view, effectively able to remove content that encourages or incites violence, in violation of Amazon policies. Following the attack on the Capitol last week, the letter cited a risk that content on Parler could incite further violence, and said it would suspend Parler's account on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. Amazon said in the letter that it would preserve Parler's data and help it migrate to different servers.

As of Monday morning, Parler's website address, parler.com, was unreachable and users were using another microblogging platform -- Twitter -- to report that the app no longer functioned either.

Write to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 11, 2021 13:29 ET (18:29 GMT)

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