Parler accuses Amazon of breaking antitrust law in suspending hosting services

The logo of the social media platform Parler is displayed in Berlin, Jan. 10, 2021. In the background on a screen is the platform's website. The conservative-friendly social network Parler was booted off the internet Monday, Jan. 11, over ties to last week's siege on the U.S. Capitol, but not before hackers made off with an archive of its posts, including any that might have helped organize or document the riot. (Christophe Gateau/dpa via AP)

Hours after it went offline on Monday, the social media startup Parler filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Amazon of violating antitrust law and asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the tech giant from blocking access to cloud computing services.

Amazon told Parler over the weekend that it would shut off service because "a steady increase in violent content" on the site showed that the company did not have a reliable process to prevent it from violating Amazon's terms of service. Amazon said it would ensure Parler's data was preserved so that it could migrate to a new hosting provider.

Millions of people turned to Parler after Twitter and Facebook barred President Donald Trump following the riot at the Capitol last week. Apple and Google both kicked Parler out of their app stores at the end of the week, though users who already had downloaded the app could still use it. But the app relied on Amazon's cloud computing technology to work.

In the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Parler accuses Amazon of terminating, not just suspending, its account - and said it should have received 30 days' notice. It also argued that Amazon violated antitrust law by conspiring with Twitter, a major Amazon customer, to kick off Parler just as it was gaining broader appeal.

Parler did not provide direct evidence showing Amazon and Twitter coordinated the response. Instead, it pointed to a December news release announcing a multiyear strategic partnership between Amazon and Twitter, and it made references to Twitter's own challenges policing its content.

Parler said losing Amazon's services would be a "death knell," though other platforms popular with the far right and conspiracy theorists, like Gab and 8chan, have managed to recover after being terminated by hosting providers.

David J. Groesbeck, a sole practitioner intellectual property lawyer in Olympia, Washington, filed the suit for Parler. Amazon did not respond to an immediate request for comment.