Judge Not Impressed By Parler's Attempt To Force Amazon To Put It Back Online

from the not-how-it-works dept

It appears that Parler’s antitrust lawsuit against Amazon for suspending its AWS account isn’t off to a very good start. In an emergency hearing on Thursday to see whether or not the judge would order Amazon to turn AWS back on for Parler, the judge declined to do so:

U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein in Seattle said during a hearing Thursday she?s not inclined to order Amazon to immediately put Parler back online. Instead, she expressed interest in taking a more measured approach to deciding whether she should order a permanent injunction to restore web-services to Parler.

Having spoken to two people who followed the hearing, it sounds like the judge did not make an official ruling yet, but said she will quickly. Another comment I heard from people who listened to the hearing was that Parler’s lawyer did not seem to understand some fairly basic concepts regarding how all of this works, which does not bode well for his client. Also, Amazon’s lawyer has said that they told Parler that the they would allow the site to return to AWS if it put in place a real content moderation strategy — which again leans into the fact that they suspended, rather than terminated Parler’s account (this has become a key point in the lawsuit, as Parler argues that termination violates their contract, while Amazon says the account was merely suspended, which is different from terminated).

One other point: Parler’s lawyer apparently told the judge that Parler could not afford to litigate this case all the way to judgment (in the context of arguing that there would be irreparable harm in not turning the site back on immediately, when asked why any harm couldn’t later be dealt with by an award of damages). I find this amusing, because just last week (which feels like a century ago, of course), Parler insisted that it didn’t need Section 230 at all and CEO John Matze was saying that Parler was big enough to fight off any lawsuits that would come about without 230. At the time, I pointed out to him that while his backers, the Mercer family, are wealthy, they’re not that wealthy.

Still, it’s pretty stunning to go from “eh, we can handle such lawsuits if we’re liable for our users postings” to “uh, we can’t afford this lawsuit we filed to keep our site alive” in just one week.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: amazon, parler

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Judge Not Impressed By Parler's Attempt To Force Amazon To Put It Back Online”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
35 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

I would be amazed if the Mercers are still footing the bill for Parler, it’s no good as a radicalisation tool now people are paying attention. Steve Bannon and their other winged monkeys demonstrated with the way they weaponised the ragefilled gamergate incels of 4chan, it’s a lot easier to get away with things if nobody takes you seriously, they just look the other way as your users become angrier and more cilent and their toxiticy escapes into the wider world.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: How the (wannabe) mighty have fallen

While TPB was a slightly different issue, it’s actually not that difficult if you have competent and knowledgeable staff. Any reasonably sized organisation should have a disaster recovery plan that includes losing major providers, and one of the big advantages of hosting cloud infrastructure is supposed to be that you can automate most of the process. That they haven’t been able to restore services yet is very telling.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: How the (wannabe) mighty have fallen

"Plus the Pirate Bay pointing out that its not that difficult to remain online even when under assault from the MPAA and RIAA."

It’s not, no. But TPB’s owners see no need to continually brag about owning TPB in order to leverage the political power of its users and so have no qualms about remaining anonymous and unreachable. Parlers owners do.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: dirt ...

"It’s bad when facist can’t even finance themselves????"

Well, to be fair most fascists through history have started from the premise that they had no money and were, for some reason or other, utterly unemployable for being inept, horrible people, or both.
The successful fascist is more often than not that one in ten thousand deranged grifters finding the one niche of conmanship they could be successful in, at a time when enough people were susceptible to blind, dumb rage and hatred, to be successful.

In this particular case, of course, it’s a bit different. The Mercers started Parler for a reason. If it starts posing a risk to them or their finances, Parler gets cut off in a hurry.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: "What do you mean the free market told us 'not interested'?!

I’m starting to be of the opinion that they’ve decided that it’s just not worth the effort to bring it all back online. The brand is now toxic enough that there’s very few people actually willing to work with them, and that importantly means things like advertisers or payment providers as well as hosts. They can bring it up again relatively easily, but the opportunities to grift as going to be way less lucrative. Once they’re back, they’re going to be under intense scrutiny, they won’t be able to offer apps and their target audience is not exactly known for their tech savviness.

At this point, it’s probably more profitable to go the route Trump went with the false claims of election fraud – waste time in courts, claim that failure to get anywhere is some kind of conspiracy rather than their own incompetence, and ask for donations to help fight the cause (while conveniently leaving small print that lets them pocket most of the proceeds).

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "What do you mean the free market told us 'not intereste

That… sounds entirely likely actually. Why go through all the hassle and work to bring the site back when they can use it being shut down to separate idiots from their money with the promise that one more court case will let them rise from the ashes, paired with claims that just a teeny-tiny bit more money and they’ll be back better than ever after all?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "What do you mean the free market told us 'not intereste

"The brand is now toxic enough that there’s very few people actually willing to work with them, and that importantly means things like advertisers or payment providers as well as hosts."

True enough which makes this a very good litmus test. If the only thing the Mercers wanted from Parler was grifting political and fiscal capital then Parler will be thrown overboard in a hurry and quickly choke to death.

If there’s any ideology behind it at some level in Parler’s ownership or corporate structure then it may linger on in a TPB-like existence with the people running and funding it being anonymous and unreachable.

The latter will be far more serious as that will indicate that at least some of the 74 million are passingly competent and serious enough to put their money where their mouth is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Real content-moderation strategy

Amazon’s lawyer has said that they told Parler that the they would allow the site to return to AWS if it put in place a real content moderation strategy

Sure, and as you have demonstrated there is no successful moderation. And what is ‘real’ anyway? No moderation? That’s real, but just as failed as any other.

WTF are you really saying here?

This is a collective take down of parler by Amazon (hosting), Apple and Google (app delivery). I’ve no love for Parler (Mercer funded bleh), but I see a collective takedown of ONE corporate comms platform by a collection of OTHER corport comms platforms.

Thus, its political.

Have fun.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Peter (profile) says:

Isn't everybody missing the point here?

With Section 230 still in place – what is the legal basis for a hoster shutting down a service purely because of public sentiment?

Sure, after being kicked of Twitter and some other platforms, Trump and his followers need a new home, and Parler was a good candidate.

But "people might use the platform to do things that other people might not like" is not a basis for shutting down the platform. Neither is a request from more censorship than a platform might be willing to provide.

And isn’t it a perversion of justice when a court decides that people have to PAY to enjoys the basic rights provided by the constitution?

Rumors are that following the shutdown of Parler (by a private company, not a government or a court!), Telegram has started to delete messages that some people might not like.

What a great new world!

PS: if internet platforms played as big a role as alleged – how come NSA, CIA, FBI and all the other agencies that sift through every byte passing through the internet 24/7 with armies of bots and even more armies of trained analysts failed to spot what was going to happen? Their very job is to protect America, especially Washington, for exactly what happened on January 6th? And they failed to warn congress, they failed to alert the police in time?
Could it be that the attacks on internet platforms are just window dressing to protect the real culprits?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Isn't everybody missing the point here?

"With Section 230 still in place – what is the legal basis for a hoster shutting down a service purely because of public sentiment?"

They can do what they want within their terms of service. If public sentiment means that they’re hosting a toxic client who has repeatedly violated their T&Cs and refused to take action (as Amazon has stated they have requested them to take for months), then Amazon stand to lose other customers in protest. Why would there be a legal problem with that?

"But "people might use the platform to do things that other people might not like" is not a basis for shutting down the platform."

Yes, it is. Any business reserves the right to refuse entry. Bear in mind that "other people" in this instance means "other paying customers", so why should businesses not have the right to refuse service to people who might be scaring away other customers?

"Rumors are that following the shutdown of Parler (by a private company, not a government or a court!), Telegram has started to delete messages that some people might not like"

Perhaps you should start taking your information from factual evidence rather than rumours? But, even if this is true, then so what? They are allowed to moderate their platform as they see fit.

The real followup question here is why people are using a supposedly encrypted messaging service that the operators of the service are able to individually monitor and modify the messages. That suggests it’s not actually encrypted and thus not doing what they want the service for.

"Their very job is to protect America, especially Washington, for exactly what happened on January 6th?"

Yes, and there are many questions as to why there was a strong overpowering force ready to dissipate peaceful BLM protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas, so that Trump could do a pathetic photo op at a church, but there was no such opposing force when a crowd determined to disrupt the execution of the result of a free election were gathering. Hopefully we will have answers to that before too long.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Isn't everybody missing the point here?

With Section 230 still in place – what is the legal basis for a hoster shutting down a service purely because of public sentiment?

It is the same legal basis that you use to decide who to invite into your place, and who you will not let in..

TKnarr (profile) says:

Re: Isn't everybody missing the point here?

With Section 230 still in place – what is the legal basis for a hoster shutting down a service purely because of public sentiment?

Freedom of association. Citizen’s United held that corporations are legally people, so they have the same right to decide who their customers are that you have to decide who you associate with. If AWS decides it doesn’t want to associate with Parler, they’ve got that right under the US Constitution same as you do. That’s on top of their general right to enforce their ToS and kick people off for violating it.

I’ve always said that the conservatives would regret pushing for certain legal decisions once those decisions started to get used against them.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Also, Amazon’s lawyer has said that they told Parler that the they would allow the site to return to AWS if it put in place a real content moderation strategy

They’re not asking for "a real content moderation strategy," though. Parler already had real moderation by real moderators. What they’re demanding is algorithmic moderation, which Parler refuses to do for exactly the reasons Techdirt has criticized it so many times over the years: it doesn’t work well and is vulnerable to abuse and manipulation.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Parler already had real moderation by real moderators."

Citation needed, depending on the definition of "real". From my understanding, they had some human volunteers taken from their membership base, who were likely to "moderate" left-leaning posts but wouldn’t deal with the insurrection type posts.

Although even if true, you still have to explain why there were apparently 26,000 complaints that had not been dealt with by those moderators. Even if they were above board and doing the job correctly and neutrally (which is highly in doubt), they clearly weren’t staffed enough to deal with the workload.

Anonymous Coward says:

UPDATE: TRO / PI denied today

Order on Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Jan 21, 2021)

Parler initially filed the motion as one requesting a TRO, but after the Court ordered Parler to serve AWS notice, ordered additional briefing, and held a hearing, the parties agree that the motion has been converted to one for a preliminary injunction.

And from the description in the docket entry:

ORDER denying Plaintiff’s 2 Motion for TRO/Preliminary Injunction. Parler has failed to meet the standard set by Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court precedent for issuance of a preliminary injunction. To be clear, the Court is not dismissing Parler’s substantive underlying claims at this time. . . .

 

(Also, story: “Parler’s attempt to get back on Amazon Web Services rejected by judge”, by Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, Jan 21, 2021.)

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...