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Amazon com : Parler Files New Lawsuit Against Amazon, Alleging Anticompetitive Conduct

03/03/2021 | 12:53pm

By Paul Ziobro

Parler LLC has filed a new lawsuit against Amazon.com Inc. as the company continues its dispute with the tech giant for ending web-hosting services for the social network.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington state court came as Parler filed a motion to withdraw a case it brought against Amazon in Seattle federal court in January. Parler had until Tuesday to file an amended complaint after a federal judge denied the company's bid to compel Amazon to resume service.

Similar to the federal lawsuit, Parler accused Amazon of ending service to the social-media platform for anticompetitive reasons. Gene Schaerr, a lawyer for Parler, said the lawsuit also aims to "hold Amazon responsible for falsely attempting to make Parler the scapegoat for the January 6 Capitol riot, and for the enormous damage caused by Amazon's illegal actions."

Parler has come under scrutiny following the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump. The platform served as a hub for people alleged to have organized, participated in or celebrated the attack, which occurred as lawmakers were meeting to certify President Biden's electoral victory.

Representatives for Parler didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

An Amazon representative said that there was no merit to the new claims, adding that Amazon "provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum."

Amazon has said Parler hosted a significant amount of content on its platform that encouraged and incited violence against others, violating its terms of service. Parler's inability or unwillingness to identify and remove the content led Amazon to suspend service to the company, the representative said.

After a weekslong service disruption, Parler resumed last month with limited functionality after securing internet services hosted by SkySilk Inc., which operates out of a Los Angeles-area data center. Mark Meckler, Parler's interim chief executive, said that the social network had grown to serve more than 20 million users.

Executives at the social network said at the time of the Capitol riot that posts inciting violence violated its rules, though they acknowledged that they were aware such content was on the platform and others in the run-up to the attack. They said that Parler's moderators were overwhelmed and often faced large backlogs in handling offending posts.

Amazon was one of several vendors that cut ties with Parler following the riot. Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google both removed the social network from their respective app stores and haven't reinstated it. Amazon's action was the most damaging to Parler because it caused the platform to go dark as it looked for a new company to host its operations.

Launched in 2018, Parler promotes itself as a platform for free speech with looser content-moderation rules than larger platforms like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. Interest in the social network surged around last year's presidential election, especially among conservatives and other right-wing users who were upset with how the other services policed speech.

Parler is backed by investors such as Republican donor Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer, and conservative talk-show host Dan Bongino. The Mercers have previously financed a number of conservative causes.

Write to Paul Ziobro at Paul.Ziobro@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

03-03-21 1253ET

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