On Monday, Parler LLC, “a conservative microblogging alternative and competitor to Twitter,” filed a complaint against Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) in the Western District of Washington for suspending Parler’s cloud services, which Parler alleged will “kill Parler’s business – at the very time it is set to skyrocket.”
Parler claimed that when Twitter announced on Jan. 8 that it was permanently banning President Donald Trump from its platform, “conservative users began to flee Twitter en masse for Parler” with U.S. installations increasing by 355 percent. Parler noted that so many users left Twitter for Parler that “the next day … Parler became the number one free app download from Apple’s App Store.”
Parler stated that “AWS announced that it would suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59 PM PST,” which, according to Parler, was because of its “looming threat to Twitter and the fact that the Twitter ban might not long muzzle the President if he switched to Parler, potentially bringing tens of millions of followers with him,” therefore, “AWS moved to shutdown Parler.”
AWS currently provides cloud computing services to Parler to allow its apps and websites to function, the complaint said. As a result, Parler stated its apps and websites are “written to work with AWS’s technology,” therefore, switching providers would require code to be re-written and could lead to a “financially devastating period” where Parler’s services are down. Parler added that its efforts to find an alternative to AWS have not been fruitful. As a result, Parler contended that it is unable to return online.
Parler argued that if it is unable to get back online, other alternatives may take its place or users may return to Facebook or Twitter. Moreover, Parler proffered that “by silencing Parler, AWS silences the millions of Parler users who do not feel their free speech is protected by Twitter or other social media apps.”
According to Parler, AWS stated that the reason it claimed that it was suspending Parler was that AWS “was not confident Parler could properly police its platform regarding content that encourages or incites violence against others.” Parler asserted that by targeting and suspending Parler, AWS allegedly “reveals that its expressed reasons for suspending Parler’s account are but pretext” because it left “Twitter alone despite identical conduct by users on both sites.” The complaint cited that on Friday night “one of the top trending tweets on Twitter was ‘Hang Mike Pence.’” Parler pointed out that “AWS has no plans nor has it made any threats to suspend Twitter’s account.” Parler proffered that AWS’s decision and conduct is politically motivated and designed to reduce Twitter’s competition. Twitter is not a party to the lawsuit.
AWS, in conjunction with Twitter, was accused of violating Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prohibits the defendant from “contracting or conspiring to restrain trade or commerce.” Parler also alleged that AWS breached its contract with Parler for failing to adhere to the required 30-day notice before service termination. Additionally, Parler contended that AWS has engaged in tortious interference with a contract or business expectancy by effectively terminating Parler’s account, which has intentionally interfered with Parler’s millions of current and projected users.
Parler asked the court to grant Parler’s motion for a temporary restraining order and for the court to order AWS to maintain Parler’s account until further notice from the court, as well as for AWS to refrain from suspending, terminating to provide any services that were previously provided under Parler’s customer agreement. Parler also requested an award for damages, including treble damages. Parler is represented by David J. Groesbeck, P.S.