Amazon is planning more aggressive moderation of its hosting platform AWS
Amazon is planning to expand its in-house moderation team for Amazon Web Services, according to a new report from Reuters. Citing two sources, the report says Amazon is planning to develop a proactive threat monitoring capability within AWS, which will seek out prohibited content on AWS servers and remove it before it’s reported by users.
Reached for comment, Amazon did not confirm or deny the accuracy of the report, but said it does not plan to pre-review content before it is posted on the platform. “As AWS continues to expand, this team (like most teams in AWS) will continue to grow,” a representative said in a statement.
The company has long maintained an Acceptable Use Policy for AWS, which forbids using the service for computer intrusions, spam, or the promotion of violence or other crimes. But enforcement of those terms has been largely reactive, often relying on external user reports to identify prohibited content. While the policy itself will not change, the aggressive enforcement approach will put AWS in the same category as major platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
Terrorism researchers have previously called for a more proactive approach from hosting platforms, with one editorial in 2019 calling out Amazon specifically. “Companies need to proactively monitor what’s on their platforms to be sure they are not inadvertently hosting it,” the editorial reads, “not wait for outsiders to expose it.”
The move comes on the heels of a similar shift from Apple, which recently announced a controversial system to proactively scan for child abuse imagery in iCloud photos.
The shift toward proactive moderation is likely to inflame conservative concerns about supposed censorship on AWS, launched when Amazon abruptly discontinued Parler’s hosting after the platform refused to remove a string of violent threats. Parler sued Amazon in the wake of the decision, although it has found little success in court.
Some aspects of that shift already appear to be underway. Reuters notes that Amazon took down an ISIS-linked website earlier this week, following the trail from an app operated by an offshoot group that was not hosted on the service.
It’s part of a broader hiring push by CEO Andy Jassy, who had previously been in charge of AWS. Jassy plans to hire as many as 55,000 new employees in tech and corporate roles, including a significant expansion of the company’s satellite internet ambitions under Project Kuiper.
6:33PM ET: Updated with statement from Amazon.