I canceled my Amazon Prime membership. You can, too.

Speaking About News

You can quit Amazon Prime.

Amazon is removing “free speech” social network Parler from its web hosting service for violating rules.

If Parler fails to find a new web hosting service by Sunday evening, the entire network will go offline.

Parler styles itself as an “unbiased” social media and has proved popular with people banned from Twitter.

Amazon told Parler it had found 98 posts on the site that encouraged violence. Apple and Google have removed the app from their stores.

Launched in 2018, Parler has proved particularly popular among supporters of US President Donald Trump and right-wing conservatives. Such groups have frequently accused Twitter and Facebook of unfairly censoring their views.

While Mr Trump himself is not a user, the platform already features several high-profile contributors following earlier bursts of growth in 2020.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz boasts 4.9 million followers on the platform, while Fox News host Sean Hannity has about seven million.

The move comes after Apple suspended Parler from its app store. The suspension will remain in place for as long as the network continued to spread posts that incite violence, it said.

Responding to Google’s move earlier, Parler’s chief executive John Matze said: “We won’t cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!”

It briefly became the most-downloaded app in the United States after the US election, following a clampdown on the spread of election misinformation by Twitter and Facebook.

In a letter obtained by CNN, Amazon’s AWS Trust and Safety team told Parler’s Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff that the social network “does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service”.

“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”, the letter said.

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

Parler will be removed from Amazon’s web hosting service shortly before midnight on Sunday Pacific Standard Time (07:59 GMT on Monday).

On Saturday, Apple removed Parler from its app store after warning the network to remove content that violated its rules or face a ban.

“Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety”, it said in a statement announcing the app’s suspension on Saturday evening.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit “essential workers” hardest, a category that includes doctors and the workers who pack and deliver your online purchases. Some of those workers are currently on strike, demanding hazard pay, adequate sick leave, protective gear, and transparency about the number of coronavirus cases in each Amazon warehouse.

In response to the safety issues raised during the protests Friday, an Amazon spokesperson pointed to the company’s plans to spend more than $800 million in the first half of 2020 on masks, hand sanitizer, thermometers, COVID-19 testing supplies, and other items. In addition, some team members are slated to be reassigned to new safety-related roles.

“The fact is that today the overwhelming majority of our more than 840,000 employees around the world are at work as usual continuing to support getting people in their communities the items they need during these challenging times. While there is tremendous media coverage of today’s protests we see no measurable impact on operations. Health and safety is our top priority,” Amazon spokesperson Timothy Carter wrote in an email to Mashable.

Around the same time Amazon fired the workers who spoke up, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company has been using data from other retailers to launch competing products — something it testified to the House that it didn’t do. Amazon has launched an internal investigation and takes the allegations seriously, Carter said.

Imagine a future where the only retailer is Amazon selling its own branded products, and you’ll understand why this isn’t sitting well with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other progressive politicians.

So, back to Prime.

In 2014, the year I joined the subscription service, I barely bought anything on the site. But after you fork over that membership fee, currently $119, it becomes easier and easier to justify buying everything on Amazon. As time goes by, you forget about the fee and start to take two-day shipping for granted.

Imagine a future where the only retailer is Amazon selling its own branded products.

“Well, I’m buying a book. I might as well add some laundry detergent. Oh yeah, and I need a vacuum cleaner. Oh, those shoes look nice…”

But over the last few years, major brands have stopped playing Amazon’s game. Nike pulled its products from the site. So did Birkenstock and PopSockets. In fact, many of my favorite brands don’t sell their products on Amazon. Third-party retailers sell some of them on Amazon Marketplace, which has become a kind of Wild West of unvetted sellers and product reviews.

Meanwhile, other retailers have started offering free, fast shipping, too. (Although, it’s worth reconsidering if you really need that T-shirt in two days’ time.) Fast, free shipping isn’t free of environmental costs, though. As an MIT professor told Bloomberg about two-day shipping: “If you are willing to wait a week, it’s like killing just 20 trees instead of 100 trees.” Amazon may have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040, but it’s still tough to recycle some of its shipping containers.

And Amazon isn’t the only place to buy books online anymore. Local bookstores are still an option — something I’ve always tried to support. But that became harder once the pandemic hit. Many bookstores are still fulfilling orders online and if you can wait a few weeks for your books, it’s best to buy from them directly. Bookshop.org is a new Amazon alternative that gives a large cut of its profits to independent bookstores.

Look, I get it. Amazon Prime is convenient. You have everything in one place and shipping is free. But here’s the problem: It’s a yoke that not only disincentivizes you from shopping around for better products (sometimes at lower prices), but also encourages you to buy stuff you might not need.

If you’re going to make an impulse purchase, you might as well support a plethora of businesses, instead of making Jeff Bezos even richer (the pandemic actually increased his fortune by $33 billion.) Amazon owns nearly 40 percent of the e-commerce market right now. The coronavirus is going to wipe out many small businesses. Even large retailers like J. Crew and Neiman Marcus could go bankrupt.

When the dust settles, I don’t want there to be only one or two companies left standing. I certainly don’t want my only option to be a retail empire that aggressively fights unions and helps companies extract fossil fuels more efficiently.

At first, I was only curious about quitting Prime. So, on April 20, I signed into my account settings to see when my Prime membership would end. To my surprise, it was set to expire that exact day, with my membership poised to automatically renew the next day.

I resented not being warned I was about to hand Bezos another $119. (Amazon makes you opt-in for Prime payment reminders rather than making them automatic.) I was finding stuff I wanted to order elsewhere. And I was scared of how Amazon was taking over the economy.

So it made sense to quit Amazon Prime. And even in quarantine, I don’t regret it a bit.