A federal judge on Thursday rejected a request to make Amazon restore the Henderson-based, right-wing social media platform Parler after its account was shut down in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. Capitol.
The company, founded in 2018 as a “conservative microblogging alternative and competitor to Twitter,” had sued Amazon’s web hosting service, which shut down the site as part of a purge of social media that was believed to have incited violence.
Parler had asked a judge in Seattle to prohibit Amazon Web Services from suspending the platform.
“The Court explicitly rejects any suggestion that the balance of equities or the public interest favors obligating AWS to host the kind of abusive, violent content at issue in this case, particularly in light of the recent riots at the U.S. Capitol,” U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein wrote.
Parler had argued that Amazon Web Services shut down its account with little more than a day’s notice — which breached an existing contract — and that the decision was politically motivated.
Amazon’s attorneys contended that Parler breached the parties’ agreement by hosting content advocating violence and failing to take the content down in a timely manner.
“That event was a tragic reminder that inflammatory rhetoric can — more swiftly and easily that many of us would have hoped — turn a lawful protest into a violent insurrection,” the judge wrote. “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.”
In siding with Amazon, Rothstein ruled that Parler’s refusal to remove posts threatening public safety gave Amazon authorization to suspend the platform.
“Parler has failed to allege basic facts that would support several elements of this claim. Most fatally… it has failed to raise more than the scantest speculation that AWS’s actions were taken for an improper purpose or by improper means.”
The move to shut down Parler came after President Donald Trump’s account, with nearly 90 million followers, was banned from Twitter, which cited “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
The Parler app saw its downloads jump by nearly a million between Election Day on Nov. 3 and Nov. 8, according to the company’s original complaint. After being shut down by Amazon, Parler’s lawyers wrote, the company reached out to at least six other web hosts that turned them away.