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.

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Filed Under: antitrust, aws, injunction, terms of service
Companies: amazon, parler


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  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 14 Jan 2021 @ 3:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 14 Jan 2021 @ 3:42pm

    Here's your mistake:

    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.

    You are assuming that this discrepancy is the result of development rather than duplicity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 3:49pm

      Re: Here's your mistake:

      It doesn't have to be duplicity. It could just be that all their financial backers vanished in the past week.

      At which point... they can't afford to run on AWS anyway, can they?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 4:19pm

      Re: Here's your mistake:

      It's a radical and hilarious public turnaround regardless as to background. I see no mistakes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 4:03pm

    It always goes back to the old saw "You can't eat principles". Especially when you have expensive principles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 Jan 2021 @ 4:06pm

    How the (wannabe) mighty have fallen

    It has got to be all sorts of humbling and embarrassing to go from 'we don't need Amazon or 230, we can handle everything ourselves' to 'pretty please force Amazon to host us again right away, we cannot afford even one lawsuit', they most certainly paid the price for their hubris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 4:45pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 9:08pm

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

        The irony is delicious.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 14 Jan 2021 @ 11:15pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 12:55am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    rhino, 14 Jan 2021 @ 4:29pm

    dirt ...

    it seems every Dirt page haz his own Bots that have discussion! well we should report this website .. DIrt .. dirt dirt ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 7:11pm

      Re: dirt ...

      It’s bad when facist can’t even finance themselves🤣

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 1:01am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 5:11am

          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.

          To wit: Donald Trump, circa November 2016.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    wshuff (profile), 14 Jan 2021 @ 4:35pm

    Ils parlent des conneries.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PatrickH, 14 Jan 2021 @ 10:58pm

    I think Matze is in general just full of sh*t.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 14 Jan 2021 @ 11:09pm

    Strange. I was under the impression that Parler were claiming that they had a bunch of offers on the table from hosting providers that wanted to work with them. Why are they using the courts to try and force the one company who's stated that they don't to work with them. So strange...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 14 Jan 2021 @ 11:51pm

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

      It was a tragic moment in the Parler offices when it was discovered that neither the girlfriend from Canada nor the various hosting companies she ran were in fact real.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 12:53am

        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).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 1:01am

          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?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 1:08am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 11:31pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 16 Jan 2021 @ 6:56pm

      Re: Real content-moderation strategy

      Parler essentially has no content-moderation strategy except against liberals. It wouldn’t take much to have an improvement on that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Peter (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 1:45am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 2:19am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2021 @ 3:10am

      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..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TKnarr (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 4:09am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2021 @ 10:14am

      Re: Isn't everybody missing the point here?

      It is pretty great that Terrorgram is starting to take down nazi scum posts. Maybe their next mass violence will be delayed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2021 @ 5:13am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2021 @ 5:22am

      Re:

      Parler already had real moderation by real moderators.

      Which actually boiled down to, 'we will look at those posts eventually'. The time for a post to be moderated was long enough that there was effectively no moderation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 5:46am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2021 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      What they're demanding is algorithmic moderation, which Parler refuses to do..

      What they're demanding is timely moderation, which Parler refuses to do.

      FTFY

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2021 @ 10:45am

        Re: Re:

        Indeed. Then, if these guys insist on the idea that algorithms are the only way to make that possible, then hopefully we can put the lid on their other argument about YouTube and Facebook being able to magically resolve their moderation issues just by hiring a few hundreds thousand people.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2021 @ 2:39pm

    "Excuse me Judge, but how much court time can we get for $9.35?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2021 @ 3:55pm

    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.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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