Parler loses bid to require Amazon to restore service

(Reuters) - A U.S. 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 Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle said Parler was unlikely to prove Amazon breached its contract or violated antitrust law by suspending service on Jan. 10, 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 U.S. 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."

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

Amazon had said Parler violated its contract by ignoring repeated warnings to address steady growth in violent content, including calls to assassinate prominent Democratic politicians, leading business executives and members of the media.

Parler said Amazon had no contractual right to pull the plug, and did so out of "political animus" to benefit Twitter Inc, 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, which styles itself as a "free-speech" space, remains largely offline after being dropped by Amazon and the Apple Inc and app stores. Those companies have cited Parler's poor record of policing violent content.

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 host Mark Levin.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Rosalba O'Brien)

01/21/2021 21:07

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