Social media platform Parler has sued Amazon over its decision to take the controversial site offline.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Parler alleges that Amazon is violating antitrust laws by “severely restraining commerce in the microblogging services market.”
Parler also says Amazon has breached its hosting contract with Parler, which Parler says gives companies 30 days to remedy violations.
Amazon's "decision to effectively terminate Parler's account is apparently motivated by political animus," Parler asserts in its 18-page complaint.
"It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter," Parler added, noting that Amazon and Twitter recently "signed a multi-year deal."
The lawsuit came just hours after Amazon Web Services suspended Parler, effectively shutting down the site.
Amazon announced over the weekend that it planned to stop hosting Parler due to “repeated violations” of Amazon's rules, including prohibitions on encouraging and inciting violence.
Google Play removed Parler's app on Friday, while Apple's App store did the same on Saturday. But users could still access the platform from the web until later Sunday, when Amazon suspended service.
Parler on Sunday sought an emergency restraining order that would have prevented Amazon from moving forward with Parler's suspension.
“This death blow by [Amazon] could not come at a worse time for Parler -- a time when the company is surging with the potential of even more explosive growth in the next few days,” the company writes. “Worse than the timing is the result -- Parler has tried to find alternative companies to host it and they have fallen through. It has no other options. Without [Amazon], Parler is finished as it has no way to get online.”
Amazon shut down Parler before a judge ruled on that request.
In recent months, as Twitter increasingly alerted users to false statements posted by President Trump, Parler grew in prominence with right-wing celebrities.
An Amazon spokesperson said the claims lack merit.
“It is clear that there is significant content on Parler that encourages and incites violence against others, and that Parler is unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which is a violation of our terms of service,” the spokesperson said. “We made our concerns known to Parler over a number of weeks and during that time we saw a significant increase in this type of dangerous content, not a decrease, which led to our suspension of their services Sunday evening.”
Parler is likely to have an uphill battle in court, according to Santa Clara University law professor and internet expert Eric Goldman.
“I doubt the claims can win,” Goldman says, adding that Parlor's claims are “way too weak” for the company to obtain a restraining order against Amazon.
Goldman elaborates that Parler's allegations related to antitrust aren't detailed enough to support a claim that Amazon and Twitter are in a conspiracy to restrain competition. Parler's antitrust claim rests on an allegation that Amazon and Twitter entered into a contract, but Parler doesn't spell out how or why Amazon would shut off Parler as a result of that contract.