Amazon will “proactively” remove inappropriate content that violates its AWS cloud service policies. This proactive approach will apparently include steps like establishing rules against the promotion of violence, as well as enforcing removal of such materials. The news was brought to light by two sources, and could potentially spark a debate about the power tech firms hold over free speech.
According to the sources, Amazon will be hiring a small group of people to its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division over the next few months, in a bid to develop expertise while working with external researchers, to keep an eye on future threats.
If the news is true, then experts believe that the retail giant could turn into one of the “most powerful arbiters of content that is allowed on the internet.” It currently commands 40 percent of the market share of cloud services.
Took Down Posts By Islamic State
This comes even after Amazon was in the news just last week, after it shut down a website being hosted on AWS. The website apparently featured propaganda being forwarded by Islamic State (IS), celebrating the suicide bombing in Afghanistan last Thursday, which killed around 13 US troops along with 170 Afghans. The company had also booted social media service Parler from its cloud platform earlier this year, after it was found to be connected to the Capitol riot on January 6th.
The AWS had said in a statement that its AWS Trust & Safety if focused on protecting “customers, partners, and interest users from bad actors” who try to use the platform for promoting their illegal or abusive agenda. It has added that whenever it is notified about about any abusive or illegal content on its service, it moves to investigate the issue, while engaging with users to take apt actions.
About why it doesn’t censor content before it makes its way onto the platform, AWS says that it does not “pre-review content hosted by” its customers.
A Reasonable Move
This could be a reasonable move considering how human rights groups and activists have been holding apps and websites accountable for any harmful content posted by users. AWS already blocks users from carrying out fraudulent or illegal activities on its platform, inciting or threatening violence, or promoting child sexual abuse and exploitation.
In case any inappropriate content is found, Amazon first reaches out to customers, asking them to either take the content down, or moderate it. And if an agreement cannot be reached, then the platform may take the content down itself.
The new moderation team doesn’t plan to go through all the content hosted by customers, but will attempt to stay ahead of future threats.