A US federal district judge has turned down Parler's request for a preliminary injunction to force Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host the social network, which is dominated by hate-and-misinformation-spewing netizens cast out or shooed away from other platforms.
"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," wrote Judge Barbara Rothstein in Thursday's ruling [PDF]. "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."
Parler sought the temporary restraining order after Amazon refused to host its servers, arguing that the app biz was "unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others."
This is in the context of armed and violent insurrectionists, egged on by Donald Trump, storming the Capitol earlier this month to temporarily stop the confirmation of then-President-elect Joe Biden's November election win, some while chanting "hang Mike Pence." Judging from posts shared on Parler, it was seen as a nexus of online efforts to coordinate the deadly intrusion, and Amazon pulled the plug in response.
That move came after Google and Apple both banned the app from its online souks.
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Judge Rothstein noted that while Parler didn't deny hosting the hateful content, it blamed it all on a sharp spike in users leading to a breakdown of the content moderating systems the site claims to use.
Parler claimed AWS was acting in breach of US antitrust law by deliberately killing off one of Twitter's rivals to help the latter platform. The judge said the evidence for such claimed was "dwindlingly slight," and that it "submitted no evidence that AWS and Twitter acted together intentionally — or even at all — in restraint of trade."
Parler also claimed Amazon had committed breach of contract by shutting it down within hours of complaints being made, rather than giving it 30 days to tackle the posts Amazon had a problem with. Judge Rothstein noted that AWS's terms and conditions allow for termination “immediately upon notice,” which obviates Parler's claim.
Parler is free to appeal the ruling, though the judge reckoned such action would have little chance of success unless the lawyers for the site find new legal arguments.
In the meantime Parler is back online in a limited way, mainly just showing off a home screen and no actual functionality, as it struggles to find anyone willing to host its digital bile. ®