Parler Sues Amazon After Being Kicked off the Web


Well, “if you don’t like Twitter, just create your own platform” certainly didn’t last long.

On Sunday at midnight, after Parler was delisted from the app stores of both major mobile platforms, Amazon took down the upstart social media platform’s internet servers. This effectively shut down Parler, which had seen a massive influx of users in the days since President Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter on Friday.

Unsurprisingly, then, Parler is suing Amazon, claiming anti-competitive violations and breach of contract, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“[Amazon Web Services’] 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,” Parler’s complaint stated.

The complaint also accused Amazon of having double standards when it comes to the policing of content, noting that Amazon had recently signed a multi-year deal with Twitter.

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Amazon booted the site after the Big Tech giants decided Parler wasn’t policing violent content effectively. Google removed the app from its app store Friday. Apple followed Saturday. And Amazon informed Parler it would be discontinuing Parler’s server support effective Sunday.

“When Twitter announced two evenings ago that it was permanently banning President Trump from its platform, conservative users began to flee Twitter en masse for Parler,” stated the lawsuit, which was dated Monday. “The exodus was so large that the next day, yesterday, Parler became the number one free app downloaded from Apple’s App Store.

“Yet last evening, AWS announced that it would suspend Parler’s account,” it continued. “And it stated the reason for the suspension was that AWS was not confident Parler could properly police its platform regarding content that encourages or incites violence against others.

“However, Friday night one of the top trending tweets on Twitter was ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ But AWS has no plans nor has it made any threats to suspend Twitter’s account,” it continued.

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The suit went on to say that “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. ”

The suit alleges Amazon has violated U.S. antitrust laws designed to foster competition as well as its contractual obligations to Parler.

“AWS is also breaching its contract with Parler, which requires AWS to provide Parler with a thirty-day notice before terminating service, rather than the less than thirty-hour notice AWS actually provided,” the complaint stated. “Finally, AWS is committing intentional interference with prospective economic advantage given the millions of users expected to sign up in the near future.”

According to The Journal, an Amazon spokesman said that the suit was without merit, and that Amazon acknowledged that Parler had the right to determine what content it allowed on its service.

“However, it is clear that there is significant content on Parler that encourages and incites violence against others, and that Parler is unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which is a violation of our terms of service,” the spokesman said, according to The Journal.

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“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.”

Part of the suit hinges on how clearly Amazon made these concerns known.

Court documents said Amazon told the service “we’ve reported 98 examples to Parler of posts that clearly encourage and incite violence,” according to NPR.

However, according to emails shared with The Wall Street Journal, when Amazon contacted Parler on the afternoon of the Capitol incursion regarding “inappropriate” content on the service and saying Parler had 24 hours to address it, chief policy officer Amy Peikoff responded that the platform had “been appropriately addressing this type of content and actively working with law enforcement for weeks now.”

“Please consider it resolved,” Amazon responded Thursday.

Apparently, it wasn’t.

For however long Amazon was warning Parler — it’ll come out in the court case, one imagines — it acted against the platform in near-unanimous concert with Google and Apple, essentially deplatforming Parler entirely in the space of a weekend.

As for double standards, many pointed out Twitter has long hosted violent content and done a poor job of policing it.

When Trump was banned from Twitter, one individual who pointed out the hypocrisy was Alexey Navalny, the prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was poisoned while he was flying back to Moscow last year from Siberia.

“In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and personal political preferences,” Navalny wrote in part of a series of Twitter posts.

“Don’t tell me he was banned for violating Twitter rules. I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone (not that I ask for it).”

“Of course, Twitter is a private company, but we have seen many examples in Russian [sic] and China of such private companies becoming the state’s best friends and the enablers when it comes to censorship,” he added.

While those comments were made in regard to Trump’s Twitter ban, the same applies to the actions against Parler.

Again, in the days after the Capitol riot, three tech platforms decided to essentially kill Parler, at least for the time being. All came to a conclusion about violent content at exactly the same time — which is curious in the case of Amazon, since its position, according to the spokesman quoted by The Journal, is that this was an ongoing issue.

Also curious is the fact that the main site for organizing the Capitol protests, Facebook, faced no similar actions, despite the fact that the platform has been a haven for violent fringe groups for quite some time.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media provided sympathetic coverage for the Big Tech giants. I lost count of the number of publications that used the phrase “far-right” somewhere in the articles about about the Parler lawsuit, usually by implying that it was a favored platform of fringe figures because it didn’t police speech as tightly as Twitter or Facebook.

Business Insider went as far as to call it a “far-right social-media app,” while CNN and NPR were content to say that it was a favorite of “far-right” individuals and organizations.

That term is used fairly promiscuously nowadays, but the casual reader with no experience in the issue gets the point: “Far-right” is shorthand for radioactivity. No need for concern here; Amazon, Apple and Google are just busy doing God’s work by sweeping up the mess.

And yet, the mess persists elsewhere — especially on one of Amazon Web Services’ star clients, Twitter. Don’t expect them to do any sweeping there, though.

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