Jan 12, 2021

Parler kicked off AWS servers for inciting violence

politics
Social Media
US
Cloud
Joanna England
3 min
The social media platform has been removed from Amazon hosting following accusations of encouraging hate speech and violence
The social media platform has been removed from Amazon hosting following accusations of encouraging hate speech and violence...

Parler, the American alt-tech microblogging and social networking service, has been removed from Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosting platforms following accusations that it has been instrumental in inciting Right-wing violence.

Amazon said it found nearly 100 examples of violent threats posted on the Right-wing social app, while the BBC described the platform as a “right-wing echo chamber, almost entirely populated by users fixated on revealing examples of election fraud and posting messages in support of attempts to overturn the election outcome.”

Launched in 2018, Parler has proved popular among right-wing conservatives and received a deluge of new members following the perceived increase in censorship of mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. 

Donald Trump is not a user of the platform, despite having just incurred a lifelong ban from Twitter. But Parler already features several high-profile contributors following 2020’s growth spurt. For example, the Texas Senator Ted Cruz had 4.9mn followers on the platform, while Sean Hannity from Fox News host had approximately 7mn fans.

Parler sells itself as an ‘almost’ unmoderated alternative to social media and has been criticised by Left-wing entities for giving a voice to hate speech, death threats, and terrorist threats.

While Parler claims it is “unbiased” and refuses to moderate the content of its users, Google said the app had failed to remove posts inciting violence. Apple has also said it will remove Parler’s app from the App Store if it does fall in with the technology company’s content-moderation requirements.

The platform’s CEO John Matze recently told the BBC, “We won't cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!”

According to Buzzfeed, since the ban was announced, Parler users have threatened to bomb AWS data centres and have made similar comments regarding Twitter and Google facilities.

Crowd control

Though Parler has been sailing close to the wind for a while in terms of content, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the storming of Washington’s Capitol Hill. However, users are unlikely to be happy with the platform, after Parler released the insurrectionist’s GPS coordinates.

The data has now been retrieved and archived by researchers, who could use the information to investigate those involved in the incident.

AWS released a statement on the move saying, "Recently, we’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms.”

It continued, “It’s clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service. Given the unfortunate events that transpired this past week in Washington, D.C., there is serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence.”

The statement concluded, “AWS 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. However, we cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others.”

Re-platformed?

The AWS message to Amy Peikoff, Parler’s CPO, included screengrabs of posts on the app that “clearly encourage and incite violence”. They included references to firing squad as well as encouraging “patriots” to bring weapons to Washington.

Matze responded to the move by saying the Amazon ban was an, “attempt to completely remove free speech off the Internet. There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on the Internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch,” he said.

Matze assured users the platform would be resurrected as soon as possible, saying it would only be down for a week while the company worked on rebuilding it.

He described the move as a “coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace,” adding, “We prepared for events like this by never relying on Amazon’s proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products.” 

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Jun 6, 2021

Unlocking the next chapter of the digital revolution

Dell
servers
IT
Technology
Tim Loake
5 min
Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies highlights the importance of often-overlooked digital infrastructure

As the world retreated to a hybrid world in 2020, our reliance on technology took the spotlight. But it was the jazzy new social and video calling platforms that took the encore. Behind the scenes, our servers worked overtime, keeping us connected and maintaining the drumbeat of always-on newly digital services.  Let’s take a moment to pay our respect to the unsung technology heroes of the pandemic – the often-forgotten IT infrastructure keeping us connected come what may. After all, as we look ahead to more resilient futures, they will be playing a central role.

Servers could be likened to our plumbing – vital to well-functioning homes but rarely top of mind so long as it is functioning. Never seen, rarely heard – our servers do all the graft with little praise. But it is essential to reflect on the incremental advances in GPU and CPU power, which have paved the way for new workloads that previously were not possible. Chatbots and native language processing that provide essential customer touchpoints for businesses across the retail and banking sectors rely on powerful servers. They also keep businesses competitive and customers happy in an always-on world. 

Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies
Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies

Serving workplace transformation

But, as businesses grappled with pandemic disruptions, the focus was largely on adopting connected devices – and awe at the rapid increase in the datasphere.  As they reined in their budgets and attempted to do more with less, one aspect was perhaps overlooked—those hard working servers.

When it came to building resilience into a newly remote workforce, the initial concern was focused on the device endpoints – keeping employees productive.  Many companies did not initially consider whether they had the server infrastructure to enable the entire workforce to log in remotely at the same time. As a result, many experienced a plethora of teething problems: virtual office crashes, long waits to get on servers, and sluggish internet connectivity and application performance, often rendering the shiny new PC frustrating and useless.

Most businesses only had a few outward-facing servers that could authenticate remote workers – a vital gateway as the vector for cyber hacks and attacks increased exponentially. That’s not to mention the fact that many business applications simply weren’t designed to work with the latency required for people working from home. What businesses discovered at that moment was that their plumbing was out of date.  

Business and IT leaders quickly realised that to stay ahead of the curve in the hybrid working world, a renewed focus on building agile, adaptable, and flexible IT infrastructures was critical. More importantly, it accelerated the inevitable digital transformation that would keep them competitive in a data-driven economy. It is now abundantly clear to businesses that they need IT infrastructure to meet the demands of diverse workloads – derive intelligent insights from data, deploy applications effectively, and enhance data management and security.  

Ripe for a digital revolution

Unsurprisingly, IDC noted that there was an increase in purchases of server infrastructure to support changing workloads. However, it also forecasts this uptick will be sustainable and last beyond the pandemic. As the economy begins to reopen, business leaders are looking ahead. IT will continue to play a crucial role in 2021 and beyond – and we have already set the foundations for the digital revolution with next-generation servers. 

As we enter the zettabyte era, new innovative technologies are coming on stream, with 5G turbocharging IoT and putting edge computing to work.  Exciting new services improved day-to-day efficiencies, and the transformation of our digital society will be underpinned by resilient IT infrastructures.  By embracing the technological innovations of our next-generation servers, businesses keep pace with the coming data deluge.

The next generation of server architecture promises more power with less heat, thanks to improved, directed airflow, and direct liquid cooling, resulting in reduced operational costs and environmental impact. As we rebuild post-pandemic, manufacturers and customers alike strive to achieve ever more challenging sustainability goals. With this in mind, a focus on environmentally responsible design is imperative for the servers of tomorrow -  uniquely designed chassis for adaptive cooling and more efficient power consumption will be critical, improving energy efficiency generation over generation.

The most notable evolution is the configuration of these next-gen servers around more specific organisational needs. Unlike clunky and often unstable legacy infrastructure, the infrastructure of tomorrow will be sturdier and more modular. The next iteration is streamlined, and in this modular form, can be more easily tailored to business needs. This equates to essential cost savings as businesses only pay for what they use.  

Resolving the problem of the future, today

Tomorrow's IT challenges will focus on response times and latency as Edge and 5G technologies go mainstream. As businesses develop new and innovative services that utilise supercharged connectivity and real-time analytics, staying on top of these challenges will give them a competitive edge. For example, in the world of retail, automation will power new virtual security guards and even the slightest delay in the data relay could result in financial loss. 

Similarly, in the smart cities of tomorrow, the network must be responsive. With city-centre traffic lights controlled by an AI-powered camera that monitors pedestrians, delays in data transfers could cost the life of an elderly pedestrian who has fallen in the road. The stakes are far higher in a 5G-enabled world. As our reliance on technology deepens, the margins for error narrow, placing greater emphasis on the efficiency of those critical underpinning technologies.

Fully enabling the hybrid work model today is just a stepping-stone towards more fluid, tech-enabled lives. A work Zoom call from an automated vehicle on-route to an intelligent transport hub is a highly probable vision of our future. But it requires incredible amounts of compute and seamless data transfers to make it possible. These glossy snapshots need super servers to come to life, making that IT plumbing glisten with next-gen innovation essential. Without exemplary server architecture, we risk future tech advances and the human progression that it enables. 

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