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Henderson-based Parler may face FBI investigation following deadly Capitol Hill riot

Parler loses court effort to return online
Parler is a popular conservative social media platform and based in Henderson, NV.
Parler is a popular conservative social media platform and based in Henderson, NV.
Parler is a popular conservative social media platform and based in Henderson, NV.
Parler is a popular conservative social media platform and based in Henderson, NV.
Parler is a popular conservative social media platform and based in Henderson, NV.
Posted at 9:54 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 17:45:00-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Capitol Hill lawmaker is asking the director of the FBI to investigate whether Henderson-based Parler helped extremists plan and carry out the deadly attack in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

The House Committee on Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for the investigation Thursday.

"I think over the years, we've seen countless times where Facebook, Twitter and of course most recently Parler have spurred people into action," said Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Natalie Pennington at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Pennington says virtual works and posts can be calls to action which sometimes lead to actual violence.

"When your normal audience is maybe the five people around you, but online you can then have a public account and send to hundreds of thousands of people, of course you're going to see that ability to spur people into action," explained Pennington.

Pennington notes social media movements can have positive messages, such as the 2017 Women's March on Washington, D.C., which began as a Facebook post and turned into the largest single-day protest in American history.

Parler was shut down in the days following the deadly riot at the Capitol after Amazon Web Services booted the right-wing social media platform from its servers.

RELATED: Henderson-based app Parler sues Amazon Web Services after being removed from platform

Parler has been increasingly under scrutiny after user posts surfaced showing some were calling for the execution of high-ranking elected officials and appeared to be encouraging the violence.

Amazon Web Services pointed to the violent posts for the removal of the social media platform.

Parler sued Amazon to get back online citing, among other claims, anti-trust act violations.

On Thursday, a Washington state judge sided with Amazon, dealing Parler another setback.

READ: Parler LLC, v. Amazon Web Services, INC.

Published reports indicate Parler CEO John Matze has gone into hiding due to death threats.

13 Investigates visited a Henderson home address for Matze but there was no response at the door.

Matez previously told ABC News that booting Parler from the web is an "attempt to completely remove free speech off the internet."

"To have anybody shutting down speech is something we should worry about, whether it's the government or a corporation," said Stephen Bates, Associate Professor at UNLV.

Bates says the removal of Parler from the web is not a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits Congress from making laws to abridge free speech, but points out private companies, like Amazon, are not bound by the requirement.

Bates says, while hate speech is covered by the First Amendment, inciting violence is not.

Several Parler users have been arrested for their part in the violence at the Capitol.

Parler is facing a congressional investigation through the House.