Parler loses bid to require Amazon to restore service

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Parler Loses Bid To Require Amazon To Restore Service
Parler CEO John Matze said on January 13th the social media site may be offline for good
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By Elizabeth Culliford and Jonathan Stempel

A US federal judge on Thursday rejected Parler's demand that Amazon.com Inc restore web hosting services for the social media platform, which Amazon had cut off following the January 6th storming of the U.S. Capitol.

US District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle said Parler was unlikely to prove Amazon breached its contract or violated antitrust law by suspending service on January 10th, and that it was "not a close call."

She also forcefully rejected the suggestion that the public interest would be served by a preliminary injunction requiring Amazon Web Services to "host the kind of abusive, violent content at issue in this case, particularly in light of the recent riots at the US Capitol."

"That event," she added, "was a tragic reminder that inflammatory rhetoric can - more swiftly and easily than many of us would have hoped - turn a lawful protest into a violent insurrection."

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Parler and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ignored warnings

Amazon had said Parler ignored repeated warnings to effectively address growth in violent content, including calls to assassinate prominent Democratic politicians, leading business executives and members of the media.

Researchers have said far-right groups at the Capitol had a vigorous online presence on platforms including Parler, where they spread violent rhetoric.

Parler said there was no evidence apart from anecdotes in the press that it had a role in inciting the riots, and that it was unfair to deprive millions of law-abiding Americans a platform for free speech.

Threatened extinction

It also said Amazon had no right to threaten its "extinction" by pulling the plug, and accused it of doing so out of "political animus" to benefit Twitter, a larger Amazon client that Parler said did not censor violent content targeting conservatives.

Rothstein rejected that argument, saying Parler had merely raised the "specter of preferential treatment" for Twitter.

Many supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump favor Parler, which has claimed it had more than 12 million users.

Parler remains largely offline after being dropped by Amazon, and removed from the app stores of Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google after the Washington unrest.

Those companies also cited Parler's poor record of policing violent content in explaining their decisions.

Pledged to return

Parler Chief Executive Officer John Matze told Reuters on January 13th that Parler may be offline for good, but later pledged it would return and be stronger.

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Matze and his family were forced to "go into hiding" after receiving death threats, his lawyer said on January 15th.

A static version of Parler's website recently returned, including a notice saying Parler was having technical difficulties, and a handful of posts from people like Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

Jeffrey Wernick, Parler's chief operating officer, said on Tuesday the company was posting comments on behalf of "friends who reached out."

The site's internet protocol address is owned by DDos-Guard, which is controlled by two Russian men and provides services including protection from distributed denial-of-service attacks, according to infrastructure expert Ronald Guilmette. - Reuters

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