Parler hit back at Amazon on Monday, filing a lawsuit accusing the tech giant of violating antitrust law by cutting off the conservative-friendly social media site’s presence on the web.
In a complaint filed in federal court in Washington state, Parler said Amazon’s decision was “motivated by political animus” and designed to reduce competition to the benefit of Twitter, which is also a customer of the online retailer’s Amazon Web Services division.
Parler asked for an emergency order to reject Amazon’s shutdown of its account, saying it was the equivalent of “pulling the plug on a hospital patient on life support.”
Amazon “will kill Parler’s business — at the very time it is set to skyrocket,” the complaint said.
Background: Amazon Web Services cut off service to Parler just before midnight Pacific time Sunday, saying the microblogging platform violated Amazon’s terms of service by not doing enough to combat death threats and other risks to public safety. AWS is the largest cloud provider worldwide, accounting for about 32 percent of the market, according to IT analysis firm Canalys.
Google and Apple also kicked Parler’s app from their respective app stores over the weekend, on similar grounds.
Parler has become a popular alternative to Twitter and Facebook as those firms have cracked down on content posted by President Donald Trump and others. Last year, about 10 million people downloaded Parler, according to mobile app analytics company Sensor Tower, with about 80 percent of those in the United States. By contrast, Twitter had about 68.7 million U.S. users in October and Facebook about 220 million last year, according to the analytics company Statista.
Parler didn’t give an exact number of users in the complaint, but said its usage has “accelerated” in 2021 with a 355 percent increase in U.S. downloads on Friday. Efforts to find an alternative web hosting service have “fallen through,” the company said, and it risks losing users the longer its service is down.
“If Parler is not available, people will turn to alternatives, or perhaps return to Twitter or Facebook,” the complaint said. “And once those users have begun to use another platform, they may not return to Parler once it’s back online.”