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Judge refuses to reinstate Parler’s Amazon account

Judge refuses to reinstate Parler’s Amazon account

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Ruling calls Parler’s antitrust evidence ‘dwindlingly slight’

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Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Washington judge has denied social network Parler’s demand to be reinstated on Amazon Web Services. Following a hearing last week, Judge Barbara Rothstein declined to grant a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against Amazon, saying Parler provided “dwindlingly slight” evidence for an antitrust complaint and “failed to allege basic facts” of improper business activity.

While the case isn’t over, the ruling bodes ill for Parler’s chances in court. “Parler’s allegations at this time are both inaccurate and unsupported, and are disputed by evidence submitted by [Amazon Web Services],” Rothstein wrote in an order. Parler will need to find another web host or remain dormant while it continues its legal battle with Amazon.

“Parler’s allegations at this time are both inaccurate and unsupported.”

Rothstein was also unmoved by Parler’s claims that the suspension posed a devastating financial blow. She noted that Parler hadn’t denied that its users posted violent, detailed threats on the platform before and around Trump supporters’ January 6th attack on the US Capitol. While it promised to change its moderation policies, “forcing [Amazon] to host Parler’s users’ violent content would interfere with AWS’s ability to prevent its services from being used to promote — and, as the events of January 6, 2021 have demonstrated, even cause — violence.”

Parler promotes itself as a more lightly moderated alternative to Twitter and Facebook, and it’s attracted supporters of former President Donald Trump, who lambasted those larger sites for labeling false claims that he won the 2020 election. But after the attack on the Capitol, web infrastructure companies cut ties. Apple and Google pulled Parler’s app from their app stores, and Amazon Web Services suspended its account, knocking the site offline.

Parler retaliated by suing the cloud hosting giant. It claimed Amazon had banned it from “political animus” and a desire to protect its competitor Twitter, which also uses Amazon Web Services. (Twitter is not a party to the lawsuit, although Parler has suggested it may sue companies besides Amazon.)

Amazon, in turn, claimed Parler disregarded repeated warnings about violent threats. “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,” a spokesperson said. That included detailed calls to violence against teachers, professional athletes, Black and Jewish people, and a swathe of specific politicians and tech executives.

Parler’s future remains uncertain, although much of its user content was backed up by archivists before deletion. CEO John Matze told Fox News that the platform wanted to “come back strong,” and its home page relaunched with a promise to “resolve any challenge before us and plan to welcome all of you back soon.” However, the network itself remains offline.

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