- Parler has dropped its federal lawsuit against former web host AWS but filed another one in state court.
- In the new lawsuit, Parler says the app had just been valued at $US1 ($1) billion before AWS brought it offline.
- AWS’ move meant Parler lost millions of users and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, the lawsuit says.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Parler has dropped its federal antitrust lawsuit against its former web host Amazon Web Services (AWS) – and filed a separate lawsuit in state court in Washington, claiming the app had been valued at $US1 ($1) billion.
In January, AWS brought the controversial social-media site offline, saying it had failed to moderate content that incited violence. Parler disputed the tech giant’s claims, and filed a lawsuit.
The new lawsuit alleges that Amazon breached its contract with Parler when it booted the site offline. It also accuses Amazon of defamation and of violating Washington’s tort, unfair-competition, and consumer protection laws.
Shortly before Amazon stopped hosting the site, Parler was about to seek funding and had been valued at around $US1 ($1) billion, the new lawsuit says. Before it went offline, Parler was “one of the hottest rising apps on the internet” with 12 million users who on average spent between 22 and 28 minutes on the site a day, Tuesday’s lawsuit says.
Since Parler went offline, it permanently lost “tens of millions of current and prospective future users … and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual advertising revenue,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges that Parler and AWS had a “good” relationship up to January. In September, AWS had offered Parler funding as part of a program for startups with high potential, the lawsuit says.
But the relationship quickly soured in the aftermath of the Capitol siege, and didn’t stop when AWS brought the site offline, the lawsuit says.
“After it had terminated the contract, AWS directed hackers to Parler’s back-up databases and has been secretly selling Parler user data to anyone with a certain type of Amazon account,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also says that AWS was aware then-president Donald Trump wanted to create an account on the site.
“The true reason why AWS decided to suspend and/or terminate its contract with Parler was not because of any alleged breach of the contract, but because AWS did not want Parler to be able to provide a new platform to conservative voices, including Donald Trump,” the lawsuit says.
“There is no merit to these claims,” an AWS spokesperson told Insider.
“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 spokesperson said.
“However, as shown by the evidence in Parler’s federal lawsuit, it was clear that there was significant content on Parler that encouraged and incited violence against others, which is a violation of our terms of service. Further, Parler was unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which coupled with an increase in this type of dangerous violent content, led to our suspension of their services.”
Parler ultimately returned online in mid-February with new web host SkySilk, after reportedly being rejected by at least six other large providers.
In the run up to the January 6 Capitol siege, Parler had become a haven for far-right activity and misinformation because of its lax stance on moderating content. During the riots, users cheered the protestors on, and some called for more violence.
AWS dropped Parler just days after the siege, saying the site refused to remove content that incited violence, and posed “a very real risk to public safety.” Parler was also shunned by other tech giants, including Apple and Google.
Parler’s board, headed by conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer, fired CEO John Matze in January. Matze said his ousting was in response to his push for more strict moderation of extremism and violence on the platform.
Mark Meckler, an attorney, political activist, and founder of the Tea Party Patriots, is interim CEO.