Are you concerned about the dangerous consequences of unchecked hate speech on social media platforms?
Amazon employees are now calling on the company to act against Parler, a free-speech platform linked to the recent U.S. Capitol riots. Read on to learn more.
Amazon employees call for company to cut ties with Parler after deadly U.S. Capitol riot
In the wake of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol that was incited by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, Amazon employees are speaking out and demanding that their company take action against Parler. This right-wing messaging app has been linked to far-right extremist groups.
The authors of an open letter calling for Amazon to cut ties with Parler argue that its platform was used to incite violence and coordinated attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021.
The letter has since been signed by nearly 7,000 Amazon employees urging Amazon to sever all ties with the platform and immediately deploy effective company-wide moderation policies to prevent hate speech from proliferating on its other platforms.
Amazon Employees’ Demand
Since the deadly U.S. Capitol riot on January 6th, Amazon employees have been increasingly vocal in demanding the company end its relationship with Parler. An open letter from Amazon
Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) concerning other internal employee groups was released on January 8th. It called on Amazon to take decisive action in response to Parler’s involvement in the Capitol riots and its ongoing role in creating a platform for hate speech.
The letter states that Amazon has taken strong stances on issues ranging from climate justice to customer service. Still, it has yet to take meaningful action against Parler based on evidence that it allowed users to plan, organize and encourage acts of violence. AECJ points out that there are serious legal implications for allowing a platform like Parler to remain hosted by
Amazon and highlights the potential reputational damage if no actions are taken.
Amazon employees strongly believe that the company should uphold its core values of accountability and customer trust by promptly addressing this issue with respect, fairness and robust public transparency standards. The letter calls on Amazon executives to cut ties with Parler immediately due to its involvement in inciting political violence and protecting hate speech despite having sufficient evidence of misuse of its services.
Amazon’s Current Relationship with Parler
Parler is an American microblogging and social networking platform that has become increasingly popular with users who prefer an uncensored service over the rules set down by its competition. Amazon, one of the world’s largest tech companies, provides web hosting services for Parler’s platform.
On January 6th, 2021, a violent mob stormed the US Capitol in Washington DC as part of a failed attempt to disrupt the electoral certification process of Joe Biden’s win as president-elect.
Many posts containing inflammatory rhetoric and extremist views were shared on Parler during and after the event. The incident spurred Amazon employees to take action against their employer’s business ties with Parler; they are asking company leadership to cut its internet service provider (ISP) contract with Parler.
In response to the outcry from Amazon employees, company representatives stated that they are reviewing their current relationship with Parler and have placed additional organizational measures into effect—but it may not be enough for some Amazon employees who fear their employer’s services helped radicalized individuals carry out last week’s events whatever its ISP contract says about content moderation. If Amazon were to part ways with Parler for good, it would deliver a major financial blow to the company already at risk of being delisted from App stores including Apple and Google following public outcry over violent threats circulating throughout its platform in recent days. For now, it looks like Amazon will stay in alliance with
Parler until further notice unless government regulations determine a different outcome for the fate of this controversial app.
Parler’s Growing Popularity
Since late 2020, the right-wing social media platform, Parler, has gained attention as an alternative to mainstream social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Parler’s increasing popularity has sparked a wave of debate around its safety and security features and potential use in propagating extremism.
On January 6, 2021, a large group of Trump supporters protesting alleged election fraud stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.. Many of them had been radicalized by extremist views shared on Parler. In the days following the riot, Amazon employees called for Amazon Web Services (AWS) to take further action against Parler for hosting potentially dangerous content and activities on its platform that threatened public safety.
As a major provider of infrastructure services to websites worldwide, AWS is incentivized to protect its customers by ensuring platforms such as Parler remain safe for visitors. Many people are concerned about Parler’s lack of fact-checking procedures or other content moderation policies which could facilitate dangerous behavior among users on its platform. AWS currently relies on its clients to self-moderate their sites but is also responsible for verifying whether they have adequate safety measures before they can host their websites using AWS services.
In response to demands from Amazon employees and others, Amazon announced that it will suspend all AWS infrastructure services deemed necessary for rendering or enabling content hosted by any entity subject to U.S.-sanctioned investigations involving foreign interference with 2020 elections or domestic terrorism events occurring after January 6th 2021 until compliance with new legal standards is met by all related parties.
Suppose Parler does not meet these standards within 10 days. In that case, it will be at risk of permanently losing access to AWS’s services, which could lead to shutdown or substantially reduced activity on its site, making it much harder for users to access information posted there by extremists individuals or groups.
The U.S. Capitol Riot
On January 6th, 2021, a pro-Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol ended in violence and destruction as rioters breached the Capitol building to stop Congress’s certification of the Presidential election of Joe Biden. Five people died during these events: one law enforcement officer and four civilians.
The role that Parler, a conservative friendly app favored by the rioters, played in facilitating these events continues to be investigated. Some Amazon employees now demand that the company take action against Parler and cut ties with it entirely due to its alleged involvement.
The U.S. Capitol Riot was an event with serious repercussions both for those involved and for many innocent bystanders, who were subjected to fear and chaos due to this act of insurrection attempting to subvert the results of a free and fair election. It is only right that Amazon takes responsibility for its actions regarding their platform hosting Parler and take steps within their power to ensure such tragedy never happens again on their watch.
In light of the deadly U.S. Capitol riot, Amazon employees call on the company to act against Parler. This increasingly popular social media platform promotes hate and bigotry.
Amazon workers call for the company to sever all ties with Parler and publicly state that it does not condone such behavior or support any platform that encourages violence and division.
Since the Capitol attack, civil rights organizations including Color of Change, Muslim Advocates and Public Citizen have called for other tech companies to cut their ties with Parler, citing its failure to adequately address hate speech posted on its website and its support of extremist groups advocating violence.
Amazon has a responsibility to demonstrate ethical leadership regarding internet technology’s role in promoting dangerous political agendas by ensuring its products and services aren’t supporting platforms that propagate hateful content. By taking definitive action against Parler, Amazon can send a strong message that it will not tolerate inciting rhetoric or provide resources to those who seek to divide us based on race, religion or any other factor.
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