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These are the violent threats that made Amazon drop Parler

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A new filing reveals Amazon’s concerns, raised weeks before the Capitol raid

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

In a filing on Tuesday, Amazon responded to Parler’s claims that it acted unfairly in taking down the social network — and in the process, gave outsiders a new look at the content that provoked Amazon to suspend Parler’s web services account.

Amazon Web Services suspended service to Parler on January 9th, effectively shutting down the social network. It’s failed to secure a replacement web host, and it argued in court that Amazon was exercising unfair monopoly power in taking down the site.

Amazon’s decision to suspend Parler’s service has provoked ongoing debate about AWS’s power as a hosting provider and whether such suspensions pose a threat to free speech. But while many had seen the suspension as a knee-jerk response to the mob attack on the US Capitol, Amazon’s response makes clear that the service had lodged complaints with Parler long before the raid.

“AWS reported to Parler, over many weeks, dozens of examples of content that encouraged violence,” the company argues in the filing, “including calls to hang public officials, kill Black and Jewish people, and shoot police officers in the head,”

To drive home this point, the complaint includes 15 examples of such posts, which include graphic calls to violence against tech CEOs, school teachers, and professional athletes. In some cases, the comments also refer to specific dates and targets for violence, encouraging users to form militia groups and “acquire targets.”

Amazon says it submitted more than 100 such comments to Parler in the weeks leading up to the suspension.

Content warning: these threats are graphic, violent, and racist; use discretion.

The filing gives more background to Amazon’s previous claims that the suspension was in response to escalating calls for violence on Parler.

“It is clear that there is significant content on Parler that encourages and incites violence against others, and that Parler is unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which is a violation of our terms of service,” the company said in a statement on January 9th. “We made our concerns known to Parler over a number of weeks and during that time we saw a significant increase in this type of dangerous content, not a decrease, which led to our suspension of their services Sunday evening.”

In the filing, Amazon emphasized that it had suspended service rather than terminating it entirely and was open to restoring service to Parler if the company began moderating content in compliance with AWS’s terms of service.

Apple CEO Tim Cook made a similar point on Wednesday in an appearance on CBS, explaining that Apple had removed Parler from the iOS App Store because of its failure to moderate its content according to Apple’s terms. “All we’re asking is he meet the Terms of Service,” said Cook. “Our hope is that they do that and get back on the store.”