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Silencing Parler: The Power of Twitter and “Person X”

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By now, all Americans—both Republicans and Democrats—are aware of Amazon Web Services’ sudden and abrupt silencing two weeks ago of Parler, the emerging rival of Twitter. But arguably most important to notice is that AWS had been made aware by Parler since at least Oct. 11, 2020 of the real possibility that President Trump might open an account on Parler, offering AWS confidential and firsthand insider information about the President’s potential move to the platform under the pseudonym “Person X.”

AWS’s knowledge of Trump’s possible account on Parler makes the fact Twitter had recently become an AWS client undoubtedly significant. Why? Fast forward to Jan. 8, 2021, when Twitter abruptly announced it was permanently banning President Trump. Almost immediately thereafter, AWS alerted Parler of its decision to terminate its contract and take Twitter’s rival platform offline.

Parler was stunned by AWS’s unexpected hit. As stated in court documents filed in Parler’s lawsuit against AWS, at no time before Jan. 9, 2021, did AWS notify Parler that it was in material breach of its contractual agreement with the media monopoly.

Parler CEO John Matze, Jr. explained that when AWS took Parler on as a client, it was well aware that Parler’s content moderation methods were reactive, meaning it moderated content after posting, when necessary. In fact, in a move to strengthen its relationship with Parler, AWS sent Parler an email in Sept. 2020 offering to finance the company as part of a program for startups. Then, in mid-Dec. 2020, reps from AWS spoke with Parler about using its proprietary database (utilizing AI to proactively intercept detrimental content) for Parler’s core functionality. Parler’s lawsuit reiterates that AWS offered both of these proposals with complete awareness of its infrastructure (or lack thereof) and content moderation processes.  

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