The social media wars are heating up. After Twitter de-platformed President Donald Trump late last week, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) – the world’s largest provider of cloud website hosting – announced over the weekend it was going to pull the plug on Parler, a social media app which has proven to be a conservative-friendly alternative to Twitter.
AWS says its actions were justified because Parler’s moderation policies did not comply with AWS’ terms of service, and that it allowed posts that amounted to incitements to violence. Parler says it took every action requested from AWS when notified of problems.
Parler alleges that Amazon’s actions have deleted its presence from the internet and that it cannot strike a deal with other service providers, effectively sounding the “death knell” for the company. Attempting to open the app on Monday resulted in this message: “Networking Error. It seems that we are either over capacity or you are experiencing a poor network connection.”
Parler is suing AWS for antitrust violations, breach of contract, and tortious interference with contract. It’s asking the court to grant it an immediate restraining order preventing AWS from shutting Parler down.
“When Twitter announced two evenings ago that it was permanently banning President Trump from its platform, conservative users began to flee Twitter en masse for Parler,” the company’s complaint filed in federal court reads. “The exodus was so large that the next day, yesterday, Parler became the number one free app downloaded from Apple’s App Store.
“Yet last evening, AWS announced that it would suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59 PM PST. And it stated the reason for the suspension was that AWS was not confident Parler could properly police its platform regarding content that encourages or incites violence against others. However, Friday night one of the top trending tweets on Twitter was ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ But AWS has no plans nor has it made any threats to suspend Twitter’s account.”
Parler goes on to allege that AWS and Twitter, its customer, have conspired to put Parler out of business.
“By suspending Parler’s account,” the federal complaint states, “AWS will remove from the market a surging player, severely restraining commerce in the microblogging services market. AWS’s actions violate the Sherman Act, 5 U.S.C. § 1.”
The lawsuit, Parler, LLC v. Amazon Web Services, Inc., was filed in federal court in Seattle, the home of AWS’ parent company, Amazon, Inc.
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