“I believe that AWS’s decision to end the service to Parler was not based on expressed concern about Parliament’s compliance with the AWS agreement, but partly on a desire to deny President Trump a platform for any major social media service,” said John Matze . Parler stresses that it does not limit what users can post and has become popular among conservatives.
Key context: After his Twitter suspension, Trump considered other options, and other conservatives, either angry at Twitter, or who have started from the side, have pushed Parler as the new destination. If the company had gotten Trump to sign up, it would have been a huge boon for a site that has long been a niche platform.
During the hearing: Groesbeck also flatly denied that Parler was involved in the attack on Capitol Hill last week, urging Judge Barbara J. Rothstein to order Amazon Web Services to reintroduce its web hosting service.
“AWS claims without proof that Parler was used to incite the riots,”
“Millions of Americans have had their voices silenced by AWS,” Groesbeck said.
How we got here: Late on Friday, Twitter suspended Trump’s account permanently, citing concerns that he may incite further violence. Conservative anger over what they called censorship by the president gave up the platform for alternatives like Parler, which has less moderation.
Parler, which had 15 million users at the time it was cut off on Sunday, added approx. 1 million new users every day, lawyers said during the hearing.
Over the weekend, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores due to failure to adopt a content moderation plan to deal with violent threats. Amazon, which hosted the site, also cut off its web hosting services to Parler just before midnight Sunday due to the social media platform’s failure to comply with the terms of service.
Parler sued Amazon Monday for allegations of antitrust and breach of contract requirements. Groesbeck said he intended to file the complaint and a request for a temporary detention order Sunday, but had technical problems with the federal court’s electronic filing system.
Amazon’s response: Ambika Doran, an attorney for Amazon, said the AWS contract allows the company to temporarily suspend or terminate accounts that do not comply with the Terms of Service. AWS provided Parler with about 100 examples of posts that violate the Terms of Service, she said, and the social media service had no plan to effectively moderate content that encourages violence.
“Amazon had the right to do what it did under the contract,” she said.
Amazon executives were concerned about continuing to host the site due to an increase in violent post-January riots, Doran said. When the company added so many users, Parler could have had 25 million users before the inauguration day on January 20, she said. Despite the increase in users, the company was slow to remove violent rape, murder and torture threats from its platform, Doran said.
“There is no one at Parler who says they have an effective moderation plan,” she said.
She also disputed Parliament’s claims that AWS preferred Twitter. The main live feed to Twitter is not hosted by AWS, she said.
What’s next: Rothstein did not indicate how she would rule, but said she would make a decision quickly.