Judge Won't Order Amazon to Host Parler

Parler
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Parler lived by the sword of free speech, and now it may die by it too. On Thursday, a federal judge in Seattle, Washington, refused to make Amazon restore hosting services for Parler.

The social media app was founded as an alternative to Twitter and one where conservatives could speak free of censorship. However, it came under the microscope after supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed Congress on Jan. 6. Soon thereafter, Amazon Web Services (AWS) informed Parler that it was suspending its service. "Given the unfortunate events that transpired this past week in Washington, D.C., there is serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence," wrote Amazon.

The timing was bad for Parler, which had been quickly gathering members upon speculation that Trump — suspended from Twitter — would soon be joining the platform.

Parler filed suit, seeking an injunction and accusing Amazon of violating antitrust law.

"Indeed, Parler has failed to do more than raise the specter of preferential treatment of Twitter by AWS," writes U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein in denying an injunction. "The sum of its allegation is that 'by pulling the plug on Parler but leaving Twitter alone despite identical conduct by users on both sites, AWS reveals that its expressed reasons for suspending Parler’s account are but pretext.' But Parler and Twitter are not similarly situated, because AWS does not provide online hosting services to Twitter."

The judge says that Parler has failed to establish a likelihood of prevailing on the antitrust claim. She finds contract claims unavailing as well.

Finally, when balancing equities, Rothstein hardly sees much justice in granting Parler's wish.

She writes, "The Court explicitly rejects any suggestion that the balance of equities or the public interest favors obligating AWS to host the kind of abusive, violent content at issue in this case, particularly in light of the recent riots at the U.S. Capitol. That event was 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. The Court rejects any suggestion that the public interest favors requiring AWS to host the incendiary speech that the record shows some of Parler’s users have engaged in. At this stage, on the showing made thus far, neither the public interest nor the balance of equities favors granting an injunction in this case."

Here's the full opinion: