By Karen Weise
A federal judge declined on Thursday to force Amazon to resume hosting the social networking app Parler on its cloud computing platform, saying that doing so would not be in the public interest.
Amazon kicked Parler, which had become a gathering place for far-right conservatives, off its platform in the days after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Parler then sued Amazon, accusing the tech giant of not giving proper warning before ending its services, and asked the court to force Amazon to host the social network. Parler also argued in its complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, that Amazon colluded with Twitter in violation of antitrust laws.
Amazon responded that Parler failed to sufficiently moderate the violent and incendiary content on its site, leaving it no choice but to act swiftly. It also denied having contact with Twitter on the matter.
Judge Barbara J. Rothstein ruled that Parler “proffered only faint and factually inaccurate speculation” of the alleged collusion between Amazon and Twitter. She also found that “there is no debate” that forcing Amazon to reinstate Parler now, before the social network could put in place an effective system of moderating content, “would result in the continued posting of the kind of abusive, violent content” that caused Amazon to kick Parler off in the first place. The court, she wrote, “explicitly rejects” forcing Amazon to host that kind of violent speech.
Judge Rothstein wrote that the Capitol riots were “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.”
While the judge did not dismiss the case entirely, she wrote that Parler “failed to demonstrate that it is likely to prevail on the merits” of its claims.
Jeffrey Wernick, Parler’s chief operating officer, said in a statement that the litigation was still in its early stages. “We remain confident that we will ultimately prevail in the main case,” he said.
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