Parler Was Suspended Over Posts Inciting Violence, Amazon Tells Judge

Amazon took Parler offline due to its failure to remove material that threatened public safety, including speech that incited and planned “the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens,”Amazon says in court papers filed Wednesday.

“Parler was used to incite, organize, and coordinate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol," Amazon writes.

The company's papers come in response to an antitrust and breach-of-contract lawsuit filed earlier this week in Seattle federal court by Parler, a social platform increasingly popular with right-wing figures.

Amazon Web Services, which had hosted Parler online, suspended the social media platform's account on Sunday -- days after an insurrectionist mob stormed the Capitol.

Earlier that weekend, Google Play and Apple's App store removed Parler's app, but users were able to still access the platform from the web until Amazon Web Services cut off service.

Parler claimed in its lawsuit that Amazon violated antitrust laws by “severely restraining commerce in the microblogging services market.”

Specifically, Parler alleged that Amazon was hoping to reduce competition in order to benefit Twitter, which had recently signed a deal with Amazon. 

Parler also claimed Amazon breached its contract with Parler, which Parler says gives companies 30 days to remedy violations.

The social platform is seeking a restraining order that would require Amazon to restore service.

Amazon counters that Parler breached the service agreement by hosting speech that advocated violence.

“This case is not about suppressing speech or stifling viewpoints. It is not about a conspiracy to restrain trade,” Amazon writes. "Instead, this case is about Parler's demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove ... content that threatens the public safety."

Amazon says it reached out to Parler in the middle of November, after receiving reports that the company hosted content that threatened violence.

Amazon provided Parler with more than 100 examples in the last seven weeks. 

One example included in Amazon's court papers reads: “We are going to fight in a civil War on Jan.20th, Form MILITIAS now and acquire targets.”

Amazon also argues that Parler's complaint doesn't include the kinds of allegations that, if true, would support an antitrust claim.

A "conclusory allegation of agreement at some unidentified point does not supply facts adequate to show illegality," Amazon writes, quoting from a Supreme Court decision in a separate antitrust case. 

Amazon adds that it "has no incentive to stop doing business with paying customers that comply with its agreements."

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein has scheduled a hearing in the matter for Thursday morning.

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