Parler, Amazon reinstatement feud in judge’s hands

Judge Barbara Rothstein is set to make a decision “soon” following the conclusion of the first hearing in Parler’s litigation against Amazon Thursday.

Parler filed the lawsuit against the tech giant on Monday after Amazon suspended the alternative social media platform over the weekend for failure to moderate “egregious content” related to the Capitol riot by pro-Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

Parler alleges in the suit that the company’s decision is “motivated by political animus” and claimed that the move was both a breach of contract and antitrust violation.

Parler’s lawyer, David Groesbeck, argued during the hearing that the company would suffer irreparable harm if it was forced to permanently close and that it is in the public interest to restore the platform’s service.

“Millions of law-abiding Americans have had their voices silenced,” Groesbeck said. “There is no evidence, other than some anecdotal press references, that Parler was involved in inciting the riots.”

During the hearing, Amazon cited examples of violent content that they claim appeared on the platform, including calls to assassinate Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the media.

Amazon’s lawyer, Ambika Doran, noted that the abusive posts were just the “tip of the ice berg” and that it is well within the pucblic interest to deny Parler’s injuction based upon the events of Jan. 6.

“The events of January 6 changed the way we think about the world. It took what was merely hypothetical and made it chillingly real,” Doran said. “Amazon had every right, after that happened, with the surge of violent content on Parler, to take that into account when it made the decision it did.”

In addition, Doran noted that there is nothing within Amazon’s contract with Parler that required the company to send a 30-day suspension notice prior to making the decision.

When asked by Judge Rothstein if Amazon Web Services would restore Parler if they implemented moderation policies, Doran said there is “no reason” to believe Parler could develop an effective moderation plan within the next 30 days.

“They had been unwilling to and unable to,” Doran said.

Rothstein said she would move “as quickly as possible” to make her decision on whether to grant Parler a temporary restoration order.

In addition to Amazon, Google and Apple have both suspended Parler from their respective app stores.

Parler, which is favored by many supporters of President Trump, claims to have more than 12 million users.