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Parler Sues Amazon for Removing It, Loses Battle

— January 25, 2021

Parler claimed Amazon breached contract by removing it without notice. Amazon begged to differ. Parler lost.

Parler, a social media platform, has lost a battle against Amazon Web Services (AWS) accusing the popular online marketplace of violating antitrust law and breaching a mutual agreement in removing it from the site.  The 18-page complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, the home of Amazon’s headquarters, and asked a federal judge to reinstate Parler’s position online.

“Parler has failed to do more than raise the specter of preferential treatment of Twitter by AWS,” U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein, appointed by former president Jimmy Carter, said in her decision. “Importantly, Parler has submitted no evidence that AWS and Twitter acted together intentionally – or even at all – in restraint of trade.”

Parler, popular with those who hold a conservative viewpoint, contends the takedown was politically motivated.  The suit alleged the move was a “double standard to Parler in contrast to (Amazon’s) treatment of the more mainstream social media giant Twitter.  AWS’s decision to effectively terminate Parler’s account is apparently motivated by political animus.  It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter.”

Erik Hovenkamp, a law professor at the University of Southern California, believes the suit, which was brought just a day after Parler was removed, never held much weight.  He said, “On the antitrust side, it’s pretty weak.  The biggest flaw in the complaint by far is really just that it doesn’t allege facts that would indicate a conspiracy between Amazon and Twitter.”

Parler Sue Amazon for Removing It, Loses Battle
Photo by Piotr Cichosz on Unsplash

In its decision to remove Parler, Amazon had cited concerns it could not “adequately screen out potentially incendiary content, including material that incites violence.”  Thus, unable to play watchdog, it was best to take it down completely.  Many examples of potentially harmful content was included in the response.

Parler’s user base has grown exponentially in the wake of the attacks on the Capitol and the transition of power in the presidential office with the recent inauguration.  Parler saw approximately 825,000 installs from the Apple and Google stores in a four-day span alone with a more than 1,000 percent increase from the same period just one week prior, according to data collected by SensorTower.

However, its business was substantially reliant on AWS.  “It will kill Parler’s business – at the very time it is set to skyrocket,” the filing stated of Amazon’s removal, which claiming Amazon breached their contract “by not giving 30 days-notice” prior to terminating the agreement.

The latter claim is untrue, Amazon said, insisting it gave Parler weeks to remove all posts that promoted violence, giving the social media platform just short of 100 examples of problematic content “that clearly encourage and incite violence” over that timeframe.

“We made our concerns known to Parler over a number of weeks and during that time we saw a significant increase in this type of dangerous content, not a decrease, which led to our suspension of their services Sunday evening,” insisted an AWS spokesperson.

David Hoffman, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said, referring to Amazon’s letter, “It’s not simply that there’s one day of bad posts.  There have been repeated warnings over time about Parler’s failure to comply with Amazon’s terms of use.  Given those repeated warnings over time, it’s sort of rich to say, ‘You didn’t give us enough time.’”


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