Amazon will not have to restore the alternative social media platform Parler per the ruling of US District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle. Amazon removed the conservative-leaning social media app from its servers on Jan. 11. following the Capitol Hill riot, for which Parler users were blamed.
Parler was accused of being a breeding ground for domestic terrorists planning the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot despite evidence of intensive planning having been found on Facebook. In the wake of the riot, both Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores, and Amazon then pulled it from its servers.
Rothstein said that "The likelihood of Parler prevailing on its claims is not a close call. Parler's allegations at this time are both inaccurate and unsupported, and are disputed by evidence submitted by" Amazon.
Parler brought suit against Amazon to restore access to AWS, Amazon Web Services, which "offers a digital infrastructure powering much online activity," according to the Seattle Times. Amazon contended that there was too much violence on the platform. Neither Facebook nor Twitter use AWS for their platforms.
In defense of keeping the platform deplatformed, Amazon attorney Ambika Doran told the judge that "There is no reason to think [Parler] could develop an effective moderation plan. They had been unwilling to and unable to."
Doran said that there should be no rush to put Parler back online because of the abuse that was tolerated on the platform. However, as was recently reported, it was Facebook, and not Parler, where much activity surrounding the Capitol Hill riot was planned.
A search warrant in a criminal complaint in New York revealed that alleged rioter Christopher M. Kelly had used Facebook to make advance plans for illegal activity in Washington, DC following President Trump's rally on Jan. 6. Kelly also used Facebook's messaging platform to field recognizance during the riot, and to share images of himself in attendance after the fact.
Amazon said that Parler had "a spike in posting activity that it was unable to moderate for seven hours," and that this resulted in a "backlog of 26,000 reports of abusive content." It was only two years ago that Facebook was forced to remove 8.7 million sexually explicit images of children. Only a year later, Facebook had to again scrub its platform of 12 million images of child exploitation.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) called for the FBI to investigate Parler for domestic terrorism. Maloney wrote that she wanted an investigation into Parler's role in the Jan. 6 riot, stating that "...Numerous Parler users have been arrested and charged with threatening violence against elected officials or for their roles in participating directly in the January 6 attacks."
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald said that "Of the first 13 people arrested by the FBI in connection with the event at the Capitol, a total of zero were active users of Parler. The overwhelming amount of planning for that event, the overwhelming amount of advocacy for people to go there and to breach the Capitol was done on Facebook, and on YouTube, and on Twitter."
Judge Rothstein in this case sided with Amazon that seven hours should have been enough time for Parler to handle posts by adults about their illegal activity on one day. Parler's method of content moderation is to use volunteer "jurors" to review content after it has been posted. Amazon said this just wasn't good enough.
Parler stated that without use of AWS it would be unlikely to be able to rebuild and relaunch the social media platform. Other server companies have also refused to host the platform.
However, Parler's domain is now registered with Epik, which is also the host of Gab, another free-speech oriented social media platform. Russian firm DDoS-Guard, which provides cybersecurity for other sites, is aiding Parler in getting back online.