Parler LLC, a social media platform favored by many supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump, sued Amazon.com Inc on Monday, accusing it of making an illegal, politically motivated decision to shut it down to benefit Twitter Inc.
In an antitrust complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Parler said Amazon delivered a “death blow” by abruptly cutting off Web-hosting services on Sunday night, soon after Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google removed the Parler app from their own app stores.
Parler accused Amazon Web Services of hypocrisy for expressing a lack of confidence it could properly police its platform, including by removing content encouraging violence.
It said Amazon did this despite making no threats to suspend Twitter, where a recent top-trending tweet demanded to “Hang Mike Pence,” the U.S. vice president.
“AWS false claims have made Parler a pariah,” and the Web services cutoff “is the equivalent of pulling the plug on a hospital patient on life support,” the complaint said.
Amazon said the lawsuit has no merit.
It said it respects Parler’s right to decide what content to allow, but that Parler has been “unable or unwilling” to remove the “significant” and growing amount of content that “encourages and incites violence,” leading to its service suspension.
Parler wants a court order requiring Amazon to reinstate its account.
It is also seeking triple damages, saying it had over 12 million users and stood to lose millions more as conservatives encourage their Twitter followers to switch to Parler.
Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, on Friday night, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
That suspension came two days after the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a mob of Trump supporters, whose conduct Twitter said Trump appeared to condone.
The Republican president had earlier asked Pence to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election at a joint session of Congress. Pence did not, and Congress confirmed Biden’s win.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Matthew Lewis)