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Parler Sues Amazon, Seeking To Restore Web Service

The messaging app Parler has been offline since Amazon set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. PT  Sunday and then suspended its account.
Olivier Douliery
AFP via Getty Images
The messaging app Parler has been offline since Amazon set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. PT Sunday and then suspended its account.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Parler, the messaging app favored by far-right activists, has filed a lawsuit against Amazon Web Services alleging anti-trust and breach of contract. The company is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent Amazon from removing Parler from its servers.

Amazon had told Parler it would suspend its account at 11:59 p.m. PT Sunday. The website has been offline since that deadline passed.

"Over the past several weeks, we've reported 98 examples to Parler of posts that clearly encourage and incite violence," Amazon Web Services told a Parler representative on Saturday, according to court documents.

As an example, the web hosting service cited a message in which a Parler user commented on a photo from Wednesday's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, showing people cowering among seats in the gallery of the House chamber.

"Violence works," the photo's caption reads. "Make them afraid." To that, the user added, "How bout make them hang?"

In its court filing, Parler said it needs a temporary restraining order to prevent irreparable harm, citing free speech rights and damage to the company's reputation and competitive standing. The social media site also noted that Amazon Web Services recently signed a long-term deal with Twitter, helping one of Parler's competitors deliver millions of tweets.

When Twitter permanently banned President Trump, "conservative users began to flee Twitter en masse for Parler," the company said. "The exodus was so large that the next day ... Parler became the number one free app downloaded from Apple's App Store."

But on Saturday, Apple announced it was suspending Parler from its App Store, preventing users from downloading the app to their devices. One day earlier, Google removed the Parler app from its Play Store. On the same day Apple moved against Parler, Amazon said the conservative platform will need to find a new host.

Amazon says Parler has shown it doesn't have an effective way to comply with the web service company's terms of service, and is still forming an approach to content moderation.

"This morning, you shared that you have a plan to more proactively moderate violent content, but plan to do so manually with volunteers," Amazon said on Saturday in an email to Parler's chief policy officer, Amy Peikoff.

"It's our view that this nascent plan to use volunteers to promptly identify and remove dangerous content will not work in light of the rapidly growing number of violent posts," the company said.

Parler filed its lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in the Western District of Washington. Rothstein was appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

The docket does not yet show a response from the judge or a scheduled hearing. The case is Parler LLC v. Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Editor's note:Amazon, Apple and Google are among NPR's financial supporters.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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