Parler’s antitrust and breach-of-contract complaint alleges that the refusal by Amazon Web Services to host the site is a politically loaded attack on an upstart’s efforts to compete in the social media arena. — dpa via AP With Parler’s very existence on the line, its lawyer began with a startling admission to a Seattle federal judge that he’s not on social media and has been trying to quickly get up to speed on the technology. From there, attorney David J. Groesbeck’s mission to rapidly resuscitate the site went downhill, just days after Amazon.com Inc pulled the plug on its web hosting service over concern that the conservative alternative to Twitter is brimming with violent content. At the end of a brief hearing Thursday, Groesbeck acquiesced in US District Judge Barbara Rothstein’s inclination to take a slower legal path – even after the lawyer argued that the advertising-supported site is clinging to life with its revenue frozen. Parler’s antitrust and breach-of-contract complaint alleges that the refusal by Amazon Web Services to host the site is a politically loaded attack on an upstart’s efforts to compete in the social media arena. The lawsuit comes amid longstanding battles between President Donald Trump and platforms like Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc that have thrived on his populist messages but have also been severely criticised for enabling him by letting falsehoods circulate widely. Many Trump supporters have moved to Parler to avoid what they see as censorship by Twitter. Groesbeck told the judge that because Parler is now dark, only AWS has access to the content that would show whether there’s evidence backing its claim that the platform was used to incite the Jan 6 Capitol riot. “Parler can’t even look up the data to see what was there,” he said. “They’re holding the key that my client cannot obtain.” While Groesbeck made his arguments about the technology in sometimes halting sentences, Amazon’s lawyer fired back with sharp salvos. “Rape, murder and torture,” Ambika K. Doran said as she listed topics in Parler chatter around Jan 6 that she described as “the tip of the iceberg” for violent content on the site. After Trump was banned from Twitter on Jan 8, there was such a crush of message traffic on Parler that the site went down for seven hours, according to one of its own court filings. Parler then faced a backlog of 26,000 pieces of content that potentially encouraged violence and said it was able to remove all but some 1,000 problematic posts. Doran told the judge the escalation of violent content on Parler has reached the point that posts are now being cited by prosecutors in criminal cases against users of the site. Ordering AWS to restore Parler’s service would be “futile”, because the platform has demonstrated it’s “unwilling and unable” to control its content, she argued. When Groesbeck said Parler has no other options for getting back online, Dolan parried that it’s not clear how hard the site has tried. “There are lots of alternatives they have not addressed,” she said. Rothstein repeatedly pressed Groesbeck to explain the emergency warranting an immediate court order, and why she shouldn’t go through a longer, more deliberative process to reach a permanent resolution of Parler’s dispute with Amazon. The lawyer ultimately acknowledged the slower approach is the “better avenue”. – Bloomberg
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