Parler's Amy Peikoff Says Tech Giants Use '1984' Like 'An Instruction Manual'

Technology giants are using George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 as an "instruction manual." That's according to the chief policy officer of Parler, the self-proclaimed "free speech" social network temporarily sent offline by Amazon, Apple and Google in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol building by Donald Trump supporters.

Speaking to Fox News' Sean Hannity, Amy Peikoff said that a disagreement over surveillance was at the heart of Parler's dispute with Amazon, which Parler is suing, and the other tech firms.

All three companies have said that they took action against Parler, which is popular amongst right-wingers, because of its refusal to moderate hate speech and content that incites violence on the platform.

"There's a difference, of course, between so-called hate speech that would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment and speech that incites violence or threatens, which is not protected by the First Amendment. So of course we want to remove it, and so we agree with Apple and Amazon that it is desirable to remove it," Peikoff said.

"What we disagreed about was whether the first resort—especially it wouldn't be any resort for us in a normal situation—would be to subject people to 24/7 surveillance, to doing all of the data mining that the other platforms do."

Peikoff continued: "That was not part of our monetization model. We think surveillance is contrary to the spirit of the Fourth Amendment. If you have a particular suspicion, that's when you surveil, that's when you get information about them, have a search warrant, etc.

"So on Parler, our disagreement was that we did not want to put in an algorithm that would subject everybody on the entire platform to 24/7 surveillance. We wanted to handle this content in a way that respected the privacy of people and that's where we're disagreeing now.

"The tech giants want their model to be the standard for the entire internet and to us, we think that that takes Orwell's 1984 from a dystopian novel and turns it into an instruction manual for everybody to follow."

Amazon suspended Parler's web hosting account on January 10, sending the website offline, because the site "is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others," and "poses a very real risk to public safety."

Amazon, however, added that it "provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum, and we continue to respect Parler's right to determine for itself what content it will allow on its site."

Prior to this, Apple and Google called on Parler to implement a content moderation policy, which the site opted against.

The two companies subsequently pulled the Parler app from their respective app stores, with Google saying that content on Parler represented "ongoing and urgent public safety threat," and Apple saying that the site "appears to continue to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities."

Peikoff, however, has argued that hate speech and other violent content doesn't only exist on Parler.

"We do think that this content was everywhere on the internet ... it's ironic," she said. "Amazon hosts Twitter as well, so we figure why is it that the content that's on our platform is the problem when there's probably more of it even on their platform proportionally because of the scale?"

John Matze, the CEO of Parler, initially predicted that the site might remain unavailable for "up to a week" as it sought an alternative web hosting service, but that appears to be proving difficult.

"We found very quickly that when Apple and Amazon both decided on Friday afternoon to announce that they were very imminently going to leave us, that left us in the lurch but also caused other vendors that provided different aspects of the infrastructure to also abandon us," said Peikoff.

"So we've had to put pieces of this puzzle back together again. We're working very consistently to do that and we think we're going to be able to do it soon, but it is a struggle and it's pretty amazing these days how difficult it can be to try to compete in this market."

The Parler app on an iPhone
A general view of the Parler app displayed on an iPhone on January 9, 2021 in London, England. Apple, Google and Amazon have taken action against the site, which is popular amongst right-wingers, after the storming of the U.S. Capitol building by Donald Trump supporters. Hollie Adams/Getty Images