Several social media platforms, including Twitter, permanently banned Donald Trump's account after angry protesters stormed the Capitol on 6 January. Parler’s executives assumed the US president “would move over" to their platform, but the app was removed from the biggest online stores, Google Play and Apple's App Store.
As the company’s attorney David Groesbeck claimed during a Tuesday hearing at a federal court, Parler was shut down because Amazon doesn’t want an alternative platform for Trump.
"I believe AWS's decision to terminate service to Parler was based, not on expressed concerns about Parler's compliance with the AWS Agreement, but in part on a desire to deny President Trump a platform on any large social-media service," Parler CEO John Matze pointed out in the company's court filing.
Judge Barbara Rothstein is expected to make a decision "soon" as the first hearing finished.
Parler has been popular among conservative groups since its launch in August 2018. Soon after Trump was suspended from Twitter, his supporters favoured this platform, that supposedly allows to express themselves more than other platforms. After Parler’s popularity started to grow rapidly, Apple sent a request, giving the social media network 24 hours to moderate posts that allegedly violate their terms of service.
Parler refused to change its policy, prompting Google and Apple to remove the app from their stores by Sunday; while Parler's app could briefly be independently obtained and 'sideloaded', Amazon, which hosts the network's servers, decided to shut the service down. On Monday, Parler representatives filed a lawsuit against Amazon, claiming that the tech giant had violated antitrust laws by removing the app for political and anti-competitive reasons. The company has demanded temporary court order to be restored to Amazon’s servers.
Amazon, in turn, explained in an official statement that the case was not about suppressing speech or stifling viewpoints.
“Instead, 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.”
Parler CEO John Matze noted in an interview to Reuters that the platform could “never” return after these multiple suspensions.
On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey supported the decision to ban Trump’s account, but he noted that it constitutes a "dangerous" precedent.
"Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation," Dorsey wrote.