Judge says Amazon won’t have to restore Parler web service

WASHINGTON (AP) – Amazon won’t be forced to immediately restore web service to Parler after a federal judge ruled on Thursday against a plea to reinstate the fast-growing social media app, which is favoured by followers of former United States (US) President Donald Trump.

US District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle said she wasn’t dismissing Parler’s “substantive underlying claims” against Amazon, but said it had fallen short in demonstrating the need for an injunction forcing it back online.

Amazon kicked Parler off its web-hosting service on January 11. In court filings, it said the suspension was a “last resort” to block Parler from harboring violent plans to disrupt the presidential transition.

The Seattle tech giant said Parler had shown an “unwillingness and inability” to remove a slew of dangerous posts that called for the rape, torture and assassination of politicians, tech executives and many others.

The social media app, a magnet for the far right, sued to get back online, arguing that Amazon had breached its contract and abused its market power. It said Trump was likely on the brink of joining the platform, following a wave of his followers who flocked to the app after Twitter and Facebook expelled Trump after the January 6 assault on the US Capitol.

An Amazon logo on a delivery van. PHOTO: AP

Rothstein said she rejected “any suggestion that the public interest favours requiring AWS to host the incendiary speech that the record shows some of Parler’s users have engaged in”.

She also faulted Parler for providing “only faint and factually inaccurate speculation” about Amazon and Twitter colluding with one another to shut Parler down.

Parler CEO John Matze asserted in a court filing that Parler’s abrupt shutdown was motivated at least partly by “a desire to deny President Trump a platform on any large social-media service”. Matze said Trump had contemplated joining the network as early as October under a pseudonym. The Trump administration last week declined to comment on whether he had planned to join.

Amazon denied its move to pull the plug on Parler had anything to do with political animus. It claimed that Parler had breached its business agreement “by hosting content advocating violence and failing to timely take that content down”.