Parler is still alive and kicking — and the right-wing social media company, which styles itself as an “unbiased” home for conservatives, is still trying to wring money out of Amazon.
In a new lawsuit filed in Washington State court, Parler accused of Amazon of breach of contract, defamation and anticompetitive behavior. That came as Parler also officially dropped its previous federal lawsuit against Amazon, after a judge rejected its arguments that Amazon Web Services should reinstate its hosting contract.
On Jan. 10, Amazon’s AWS division terminated Parler’s hosting services contract — citing nearly 100 examples of violent threats on the app that Parler had not acted to remove. That came after the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Multiple Parler users participated in the attack and posted videos and other content from the riot.
In the new lawsuit, filed Tuesday, Parler said Amazon defamed the social app by making it a scapegoat for the Jan. 6 insurrection. The company complained that Twitter and Facebook also hosted content related to attack. “Because of AWS’s malicious defamatory statements, Parler’s public reputation suffered severe damage and Parler has had many potential service providers refuse to work with it, hampering and delaying its ability to get back online,” the company said in the suit.
Parler, whose backers include GOP donor Rebekah Mercer, seeks unspecified monetary damages from Amazon. The complaint, first reported by NPR, is available at this link.
Parler’s new lawsuit also alleged, without evidence, that Amazon’s motives in kicking it offline were anticompetitive. The AWS group “learned that former President Donald Trump” was among prominent conservatives “likely to switch from Twitter to Parler,” and “AWS was clearly concerned about that possibility” after signing a new contract with Twitter, the company’s suit claimed. (Donald Trump, who was permanently banned from Twitter and suspended by other platforms after the events of Jan. 6, has not set up an official account on Parler.)
In a statement, an Amazon rep said in part, “AWS provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum, and we respect Parler’s right to determine for itself what content it will allow. However, 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.”
Moreover, 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,” the Amazon rep said.
According to Parler’s latest lawsuit, “AWS had known that Parler used a reactive system to deal with problematic content — and not once had AWS said that such a system was insufficient or in violation of the parties’ contract.” Parler’s breach-of-contract charge against AWS cites a provision giving customers 30 days to address any violations of their hosting agreement before it is terminated.
After going dark for several weeks, Parler’s website returned online in mid-February and is now hosted by internet-infrastructure firm SkySilk. The app remains unavailable on Apple’s App Store or Google Play, after those companies suspended Parler over inflammatory violent content, although an Android version is available to download directly from the company’s site.
In January, a federal judge denied Parler’s request for a preliminary injunction to force AWS to reinstate service. “The court rejects any suggestion that the public interest favors requiring AWS to host the incendiary speech that the record shows some of Parler’s users have engaged in,” the judge wrote in the ruling.
Last month, John Matze, the former CEO of Parler, said he was fired after he urged the board to adopt stricter content-moderation policies. In an unusual move, Parler pulled all of Matze’s equity in the company when he was terminated, NPR reported.