The online expulsion of President Trump and his supporters has spread from Facebook and Twitter to lesser-known companies that manage Internet infrastructure, threatening his ability to raise money, gather supporters, and remain a political and cultural force as he prepares to leave the post.
Many web security, hosting and payment companies are suspending the services of both Trump and organizations that tolerate right-wing extremists who advocate further violence.
The moves underscore the power that a small number of companies have on the Internet, including some lesser-known Bay Area technology companies that provide the plumbing network with a modern network presence. Although best known to application designers and web engineers, their services allow websites to load quickly, allow users to verify their identity and log in, and process payments securely. Without them, it is difficult to maintain any online presence that reaches a large number of people.
The social network Parler of Henderson, Nev., Went offline on Monday after Amazon Web Services stopped hosting it as the aftermath of Wednesday̵
Parler users have called for the assassination of Trump’s political enemies and further violence if President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration continues, according to screenshots.
Twilio of San Francisco, which offers communication tools, including those used by Parler to protect user accounts, also turned down the app as a customer.
Twilio said Parler had violated a policy “prohibiting the dissemination of misinformation that encourages violence, destruction of property and other illegal activities, endangers public safety and damages Twilio’s reputation.”
“We have identified publications in Parler that advocated civil war, spread malicious and deceptive election reports, called on consumers to kill government officials, and advocated racially motivated violence. The account has been suspended indefinitely, “the company added.
San Francisco-based startup Okta, which helps companies manage users’ identities, also said it had removed Parler’s access to its services. “Although we support organizations from the political spectrum, our (services) will not be used for threats of violence and illegal activity,” the company said on Twitter.
The moves are significant, but the ability to limit hate speech and white supremacy online is limited, said Robin Kaplan, a researcher at Data & Society, a technology-focused NGO.
“We’ve seen the same thing since Charlottesville, but that hasn’t necessarily weakened white supremacy,” Kaplan said, referring to the 2017 march by white leaders and neo-Nazis in Virginia.
Following the assassination of Heather Haier in a counter-protest, Google and the website hosting company GoDaddy blocked the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer. It has since returned under a different domain name.
“It’s going to be a punch game,” Kaplan said.
Parler sued Amazon on Monday for launching it from its web hosting service, claiming that the Seattle-based e-commerce company, which leases capacity in its data centers to other businesses, “is apparently motivated by political animus.” In addition, it is clearly intended to reduce competition in the microblogging services market in favor of Twitter. “
Amazon previously cited Parler’s lack of moderation as a reason to discontinue the service. Google and Apple had also removed the mobile version of Parler from their app stores after last week’s riot, citing similar concerns.
After critics discovered that Teespring, a T-shirt sales service in San Francisco, offered Camp Auschwitz shirts like those worn by some Capitol rebels, it cut off business with the seller who sold them.
“We strongly disapprove or justify content that promotes racist, anti-Semitic, or hate speech, including neo-Nazi designs that are currently being circulated online,” a company spokesman said in an email. “Anyone who uploads this type of content will be banned “from the service,” the spokesman said.
San Francisco’s Stripe, one of the largest online payment processors, will stop processing donations to Trump, the Wall Street Journal reported, complicating the president’s financial future. PayPal and Shopify also cut ties with Trump, and GoFundMe cut off fundraising from Trump supporters.
Kaplan said the bans show that energy companies have and said it may require constant monitoring, especially when marginalized groups are affected by restrictions.
“What most proponents of space would like to see is much more consistency than these (companies), much more transparency,” Kaplan said.
Schwanika Narayan and Roland Lee are writers for the San Francisco Chronicles. Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @shwanika, @rolandlisf