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Amazon Says Parler Systematically Unwilling To Remove Violent Content

Jan 13, 2021
Originally published on January 13, 2021 12:15 pm

Before Amazon took down Parler, the messaging app favored by far-right activists, Amazon says it flagged dozens of instance of violent and hateful posts that Parler "systematically failed" to remove.

The two companies are facing off in court after Amazon's decision to stop hosting Parler took the website offline on Monday. Parler remained unavailable on Wednesday morning. Its app was also blocked by Google and Apple.

Parler has sued Amazon Web Services, asking a federal judge in Seattle to issue a temporary restraining order to undo that. Parler's lawsuit alleges breach of contract and antitrust violations and compares its treatment with that of its competitor Twitter.

In a new filing, Amazon argues it was Parler that failed to abide by Amazon's terms of service, allowing hateful content to multiply on its platform even after last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"This case is about Parler's demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of Amazon Web Services ... content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens," Amazon wrote to the court.

"AWS notified Parler repeatedly that its content violated the parties' agreement, requested removal, and reviewed Parler's plan to address the problem, only to determine that Parler was both unwilling and unable to do so," Amazon added.

Amazon said that since November, it reported to Parler more than 100 instances of content promoting violence, including calls to hang, shoot or kill Black and Jewish people, lawmakers, tech CEOs, police officers and others.

During one of the calls, according to Amazon's filing, Parler's CEO reported a backlog of 26,000 reports of content that violated its community standards but remained posted.

Addressing Parler's comments about the treatment of Twitter, Amazon said it "does not host Twitter's feed" so "it could not have suspended access to Twitter's content." It added: "To be clear, AWS has no incentive to stop doing business with paying customers that comply with its agreements."

Parler is expected to file a response in the case soon. Its representatives did not immediately respond to inquiries about reports that they have found a new service to host the platform.

The case is Parler LLC v. Amazon Web Services, Inc before U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in the Western District of Washington.

Editor's note: Amazon, Apple and Google are among NPR's recent financial supporters.

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