President Trump considered joining Parler under a pseudonym in the months before the controversial social network went dark, its chief executive claimed in court papers.
Trump had thought about moving to the Twitter-like platform — which was popular with his supporters — under the name “Person X” since at least October of last year, according to Parler CEO John Matze.
The president’s purported plans were part of the reason Amazon Web Services decided to boot Parler from its servers this week, putting the fledgling company in an existential crisis, according to Matze.
“Based on my interactions with AWS personnel during this period, I believe AWS’s decision to terminate service to Parler was based, not on expressed concerns about Parler’s compliance with the AWS [Customer] Agreement, but in part on a desire to deny President Trump a platform on any large social-media service,” Matze said in a declaration filed Wednesday as part of his company’s federal lawsuit against AWS.
Amazon’s cloud-computing unit forced Parler offline Monday over concerns about its failure to crack down on threats of violence its users posted in the wake of last week’s Capitol riots.
Parler’s app — which has been removed from Apple and Google’s digital stores — was being downloaded about 1 million times a day before AWS took action, Matze said. The recent growth was partly fueled by Twitter’s decision to ban Trump from its platform, which led to a “widespread public expectation” that he would join Parler, according to his filing.
Parler’s AWS representative — who Matze claimed was a Joe Biden supporter — had questioned him by phone, email and text message about his knowledge of Trump’s plans to join the platform, he said.
“It was only after Twitter announced its intention to terminate Trump from its platform that AWS expressed any concern about Parler’s compliance with its agreement,” Matze said in the filing, which did not explain why Trump allegedly wanted to use a pseudonym on Parler.
AWS said there was “no merit” to Matze’s claims. The tech giant provides services to customers across the political spectrum, but Parler was “unable or unwilling” to remove content encouraging violence and therefore violated AWS’ terms of service, according to a company spokesperson.
“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,” the AWS spokesperson said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
AWS’ decision to boot Parler may kill the platform for good, according to Matze. He said other tech firms including messaging service Slack and payment processor Stripe have cut off Parler from their services because of Amazon’s move.
“My company is now a social network without a network,” Matze said in the filing. “By turning off Parler’s online capabilities, AWS has crushed our business’s growth and eviscerated its ability to function as a going concern.”
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