Early this year, conservative social media platform Parler brought a federal lawsuit against Amazon, claiming that Amazon colluded with Twitter to drive them off the internet. This lawsuit has been dropped but a new one has taken its place. In a new state lawsuit, Parler claims that by discontinuing the site, Amazon has deliberately driven Parler’s valuation down.
Parler was conceived as a conservative-friendly alternative to mainstream social media companies like Twitter and Facebook. It was launched in 2018 and by the end of 2020 it had gained a fervent almost cult-like following among conservative and right-wing users, Its user base also included far-right extremists, especially when other platforms started to clamp down on the circulation of unverified conspiracy theories and incendiary content.
All this was kept brewing under the surface till it boiled over on January 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol. Many participants in the mob live streamed or posted pictures on Parler and other social media platforms in real-time. Within a few days, Google and Apple had banned Parler from their mobile app services. Amazon Web Services also withdrew its hosting service. Parler immediately filed its first lawsuit against Amazon in federal court in Washington State, requesting the court to force Amazon to reinstate the site. The judge assigned to the case rejected Parler’s request.
Amazon filed a response to the lawsuit where it presented as evidence more than 100 instances of violent content that it warned Parler to remove before the January 6 attack. Parler did not comply. Parler’s new suit claims that the conservative site had a billion-dollar valuation before the events on January 6.
The suit makes the argument that Amazon knew this and deliberately tanked the valuation through “deceptive and unfair trade practices,” defamation, and breach of contract. This lawsuit seems designed to get Parler back online in a real way. Since the filing, the platform has changed leadership, come back online via an LA-based network, and is working its way toward a comeback under the guidance of Rebekah Mercer, its chief investor and supporter of several conservative causes.