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Parler drops federal lawsuit against Amazon — but files another in state court

Parler drops federal lawsuit against Amazon — but files another in state court


The service sued to force Amazon Web Services to restore its account

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Parler has withdrawn its antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, ending its two-month effort to legally compel the company to reinstate its hosting account. Parler made the decision in a motion filed late Tuesday night in federal court for the Western District of Washington. The company gave no explanation for the move, but reserved the right to refile on similar grounds in the future.

Notably, the decision to withdraw came on the same day Parler was due to file an amended complaint in the case. Parler had failed to meet an earlier February 16 filing deadline and received a two-week extension from the court — but with the case withdrawn, that deadline is now moot.

At the same time, Parler filed a new lawsuit against Amazon in Washington state court, making a different set of claims. First reported by NPR, the new lawsuit alleges defamation and breach of contract by Amazon, specifically citing a provision that gives clients 30 days to remedy any material breach of the contract before service is terminated. “Getting 30 days either to cure or find another host is absolutely essential,” the complaint argues. “Parler would not have signed up with AWS without that protection.”

In a statement to The Verge, Amazon dismissed the claims as meritless. “As shown by the evidence in Parler’s federal lawsuit, it was clear that there was significant content on Parler that encouraged and incited violence against others, which is a violation of our terms of service,” a representative said. “Further, Parler was unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which coupled with an increase in this type of dangerous violent content, led to our suspension of their services.”

Amazon first suspended service to Parler on January 9th, in the wake of an unprecedented mob attack on the capitol building. Parler had sought to use antitrust law to force Amazon to restore service, but faced an uphill battle in court. In a response filing, Amazon revealed more than 100 violent threats the company had flagged to Parler in the weeks leading up to its takedown, including one that told Jack Dorsey, “you will die a bloody death.” Parler had refused to moderate the content, citing its free speech policy.

On January 21, the federal court rejected a preliminary motion ordering Amazon to reinstate Parler’s hosting account, calling the presented evidence “dwindlingly slight.”

With Parler back online, many of the underlying issues in the case are less urgent. Parler restored web service on February 15th, using a range of smaller hosting and registrar services as an alternative to Amazon. Content posted before the ban was lost, however, and Parler’s app remains unavailable on the iOS or Google Play app stores. Parler cited the networks success in restoring service as a reason to extend the filing deadline, predicting that it would “have a material impact on how Parler pleads the amended complaint.”

Parler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update 11:10AM ET: Added detail Parler’s new filing in state court — headline updated to reflect new information.

Update 2:01PM ET: Added statement from Amazon.