Parler CEO says social media app may never return as Amazon calls platform's lawsuit meritless

Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Days after Amazon shut down Parler's web hosting service, Parler CEO John Matze said he's unsure whether the platform favored by conservatives will ever return.

"It could be never. We don't know yet," Matze said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Amazon is defending its decision to boot Parler saying in a court filing that it notified the platform repeatedly that its content violated their agreement.

The Seattle-based company responded in federal court to Parler's lawsuit filed Monday. Amazon is asking a federal judge to deny a request to reinstate the cloud-service account for Parler and says Parler shrugged off policing violence content on its site before and after the insurrection at the Capitol.

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Parler, which did not respond USA TODAY's requests for comment, argues in its lawsuit that Amazon violated antitrust laws to harm Parler and help Twitter. It also alleged Amazon breached its contract by not giving 30 days' notice before terminating Parler’s account.

Amazon said Parler contracted with the company in 2018 and agreed not to host harmful content. Amazon also said it notified Parler that it retained the right to suspend accounts immediately if they breach Amazon’s terms of service.

"This case is not about suppressing speech or stifling viewpoints. It is not about a conspiracy to restrain trade," Amazon's attorneys wrote in a filing late Tuesday. "Instead, this case is about Parler’s demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens."

Social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, suspended thousands of accounts linked to the events on Jan. 6. President Donald Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter and has been blocked from posting to Facebook and Instagram at least through the end of his term.

Why Amazon says it pulled Parler

Amazon sent Parler a letter Saturday that mentions 98 examples of Parler posts that "clearly encourage and incite violence."

In its court filing, Amazon shared several examples. The following threats are graphic, violent, and racist:

  • “We are going to fight in a civil War on Jan.20th, Form MILITIAS now and acquire targets.”

  • “After the firing squads are done with the politicians the teachers are next.”

  • “White people need to ignite their racial identity and rain down suffering and death like a hurricane upon zionists.”

  • “We are coming with our list we know where you live we know who you are and we are coming for you and it starts on the 6th civil war… Lol if you will think it’s a joke… Enjoy your last few days you have.”

Amazon claims a conspiracy theory, touted by Trump, that the election was fraudulent and the results needed to be overturned were spread on Parler and contributed to the siege on the Capitol where five people died.

In a statement sent to USA TODAY, Amazon said it told Parler about its concerns over a number of weeks but saw "a significant increase in this type of dangerous content, not a decrease, which led to our suspension of their services Sunday evening."

“AWS provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum, and we respect Parler’s right to determine for itself what content it will allow," the statement said. "However, it is clear that there is significant content on Parler that encourages and incites violence against others, and that Parler is unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which is a violation of our terms of service."

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Can Parler get back in Apple App Store?

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with Gayle King on CBS this week that it's possible Parler could return to the App Store. He said Parler was suspended, not banned.

"Parler has some issues with moderation. There are some incitements to violence examples on there. They need to step it up on the moderation," Cook said. "Our hope is that they do that and get back on the store.”

Cook said the company has terms of service for the app store, and Parler has been in violation of some of the terms. He said Apple is asking Parler to meet those terms.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Will Parler get back online? Amazon says platform violated contract