Parler, a conservative rival to Twitter, saw a massive influx of new accounts following Twitter's suspension last Friday of President Trump and other like-minded users. Shortly thereafter, the Parler app was delisted by Apple and Google. Then at midnight Sunday, Amazon Web Services' (AWS) servers took the social platform down entirely.
On Monday, Parler sued Amazon, arguing its internet hosting service made an illegal, politically motivated decision to terminate web hosting services to the platform. In doing so, Parler alleges it violated antitrust law and the companies' contractual agreement. The social network service, which had become the number one download from Apple's App Store after Twitter banned Trump, argued that Twitter was losing market share to Parler before the ban.
In a 19-page antitrust complaint filed with the US District Court in Seattle, Parler accused Amazon of hypocrisy for suggesting a lack of confidence that it could police its platform, including finding and removing content that encouraged violence. The complaint references that on Friday night, one of the top trending tweets on Twitter, which is also hosted by AWS, was "Hang Mike Pence," noting that AWS has no plans nor has it made any threats to suspend Twitter's account. The complaint said, "AWS's decision to effectively terminate Parler's account is apparently motivated by political animus. Parler has not only lost current and future customers, but Parler has also been unable to find an alternative web hosting company. In short, AWS false claims have made Parler, a pariah."
In a letter to Parler on Saturday, AWS explained their decision to cut off service to the platform, saying, "over the past several weeks, we've reported 98 examples to Parler of posts that clearly encourage and incite violence." The letter goes on to say, "we cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others."
Parler claims in its lawsuit that without Amazon's support, "Parler is finished as it has no way to get online." Parler also said that switching to a different service provider, like Epik, to host its platform would require major changes to its website, causing the website to go offline for a "financially devastating period."
Parler CEO John Matze criticized the "crazy" double standard that exists between the treatment of his company and Twitter. He pledged that his social media platform will be back soon and have the upper hand over competitors. In an interview on Tuesday with Fox, Matze said free speech and privacy will be the platform's main goal. He said the company plans to put algorithms in place that respect users' privacy while examining all the content to quickly determine terms of service violations, with the most extreme posts being taken down immediately.
Amazon filed its response to Parler's suit on Tuesday, claiming that Parler had failed to prove any antitrust claims and that the social media platform's refusal to remove violent content from its site violated its contract. In its court filing, Amazon argues, "This case is not about suppressing speech or stifling viewpoints. It is not about a conspiracy to restrain trade. Instead, this case is about Parler's demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove... content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens." Amazon goes on to say in the filing, "AWS does not host Twitter's feed, so of course it could not have suspended access to Twitter's content."
According to the WHOIS database, Parler registered with Epik on Monday. Epik released an official statement saying the company has had "no contact or discussions with Parler in any form" before the website registering its domain with them. Epik continued saying that "to date, no communication has been received by them for discussion of future service provision."
Epik describes itself as "The Swiss Bank of Domains" on its website, saying it has earned an industry reputation for exceptional service and support. For their part, the company is vocal in expressing their views on the gravity of the current censorship of right-wing conservatives in the U.S., summing up the current state of affairs in its statement by saying, "In an apparent attempt to preserve voter continuity and confidence by their respective constituencies, thousands of leaders, executives, and elected officials refuse to condemn it. Now suddenly, our nation has the audacity to believe the actions of January 6 are at or any different from those that we have all witnessed over the past seven months. Though the media may persist to indicate, otherwise, the lives of our public servants are no more precious than those who elected them into office."
Editors Disclosure: UncoverDC.com is hosted on Epik