Federal Judge Denies Parler's Bid to Force Amazon to Resume Service -- 2nd Update
By Sarah E. Needleman
Parler has lost an early bid to force Amazon.com Inc. to resume
providing web-hosting services for the social network.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein denied Parler's motion for
a preliminary injunction Thursday, writing in a 14-page ruling that
the company didn't meet the threshold for granting such a request.
However the judge ruled that the court wasn't yet dismissing
Parler's underlying claims against Amazon.
Parler sued Amazon on Jan. 11, claiming the tech giant kicked
the social network off its servers for political and
Amazon denied those claims, saying it terminated the
relationship because it found several instances of violent content
on Parler in violation of its terms of service. One example Amazon
identified from a post in early December said: "My wishes for a
racewar have never been higher. I find myself thinking about
killing n -- s and jews more and more often."
Judge Rothstein wrote Parler offered "faint and factually
inaccurate speculation" to support its claim that Amazon violated
federal antitrust law. The judge also wrote that Amazon has no
obligation to host violent content, particularly in light of the
U.S. Capitol riot earlier this month.
"That event 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," the judge wrote.
"The Court rejects any suggestion that the public interest favors
requiring [Amazon Web Services] to host the incendiary speech that
the record shows some of Parler's users have engaged in."
Parler Chief Executive John Matze couldn't immediately be
reached for comment.
An Amazon representative said in a statement that the company
welcomed the court's "careful" ruling. "This was not a case about
free speech," the statement said. "It was about a customer that
consistently violated our terms of service by allowing content to
be published on their website that actively encouraged
Parler launched in 2018 and promoted itself as a free-speech hub
with looser content-moderation rules than larger platforms such as
Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. The social network had a steep surge
in interest around last year's presidential election, especially
among conservatives who expressed discontent with how other
services policed speech.
But Parler came under significant scrutiny in the wake of the
Capitol riot, as it had served as a hub for people alleged to have
organized, participated in or celebrated the attack, as well as a
forum for some who had posted about future violent actions around
the inauguration. Parler executives have said they had been
bolstering content-moderation efforts in recent months and
acknowledged delays in addressing instances of threats on the
platform prior to the Capitol riot.
Amazon was one of several vendors that severed ties with Parler
earlier this month over the social network's content-moderation
rules, though its actions were the most damaging because it caused
the company's website and apps to go dark.
On Thursday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.), chairwoman of the
House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation requesting an investigation into the role Parler
played in the attack. Ms. Maloney also asked the agency to review
Parler is backed by investors such as Republican donor Rebekah
Mercer, the daughter of hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer, and
conservative talk-show host Dan Bongino. The Mercers have
previously financed a number of conservative causes.
To resume operations, Parler has so far turned to
internet-services provider Epik Inc. to serve as its web-domain
registrar after DreamHost LLC dropped it as a customer.
Parler's website was updated late last week with a post from Mr.
Matze, which was followed by a few more from prominent
conservatives such as Fox News host Sean Hannity. A message
entitled "Technical Difficulties" tells visitors that Parler plans
to welcome users back soon.
However, tech-industry officials say Parler would need to turn
to a cloud-services host similar to Amazon in order to support the
number of users the social network had. Company officials have said
Parler had as many as 15 million users. Twitter reported last fall
it had 187 million daily users, while Facebook said it had 1.82
billion daily users.
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 21, 2021 18:23 ET (23:23 GMT)
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