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Henderson-based app Parler sues Amazon Web Services after being removed from platform

Posted at 7:11 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 10:51:51-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Henderson-based conservative social media app Parler is fighting to get back online after Amazon Web Services removed it from its platform Sunday night.

Parler is filing a lawsuit against Amazon in a U.S. District Court in Washington requesting a temporary restraining order and alleging an antitrust violation and breach of contract.

This after the app had come under fire since last week's insurrection at the Capitol for being a kind of digital meeting place for right-wing extremists.

Amazon Web Services sending a letter to Parler Saturday, addressing what they call a "steady increase in violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms. It's clear that Parler does not have an effective process to comply with the AWS terms of service."

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In the letter to Parler, Amazon attached screenshots of posts from users appearing to incite violence, including a meme with a picture of lawmakers ducking in the chamber balcony during the insurrection Wednesday with the text, "Violence works. Make them afraid." And the caption, "how bout make them hang."

But in the lawsuit, Parler alleged that Amazon, which also provides platform services to Twitter, has not taken similar action against the social media giant.

"Friday night, one of the top trending posts on Twitter was 'Hang Mike Pence.' But AWS has no plans nor has made any threats to suspend Twitter's account," reads the lawsuit.

Stephen Bates is an associate professor at UNLV who teaches First Amendment law. He said Amazon's decision to boot Parler is not a first amendment violation, but he wonders whether it violates free speech in a broader sense.

"To have anybody shutting down speech is something we should worry about whether it's the government or a corporation," said Bates. Bates said while hate speech is covered by the first amendment, inciting violence is not. But Bates said that should be up to the government to decide.

"It generally means inciting violence right this minute sort of, almost a clear and present danger. 'Let's this mob go and kill the governor right this minute,' and something that should happen in some distant or conditional future, that's not really incitement but in any event, that's not a question for Amazon to be answering. That would be a question for the government," said Bates.

We requested an interview with Parler CEO John Matze and did not hear back.