Parler CEO John Matze joins CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on July 2, 2020.
Social network Parler is suing Amazon for pulling its cloud computing support in the wake of the deadly U.S. Capitol riot.
Popular with conservatives and supporters of President Donald Trump, Parler was reliant on the cloud computing services provided by AWS. However, AWS withdrew its support this week after concluding that posts on Parler “clearly encourage and incite violence.”
In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Parler accused Amazon Web Services of breaking antitrust laws.
“AWS’s decision to effectively terminate Parler’s account is apparently motivated by political animus,” the lawsuit said. “It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter.”
It continues: “This emergency suit seeks a Temporary Restraining Order against defendant Amazon Web Services to prevent it from shutting down Parler’s account. Doing so is the equivalent of pulling the plug on a hospital patient on life support. It will kill Parler’s business — at the very time it is set to skyrocket.”
An AWS spokesperson told CNBC there’s no merit to the claims, while Parler did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
“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,” an AWS spokesperson told CNBC.
“We made our concerns known to Parler over a number of weeks and during that time we saw a significant increase in this type of dangerous content, not a decrease, which led to our suspension of their services Sunday evening.”
Screenshots of the Parler app viewed by CNBC show users posting references to firing squads, as well as calls to bring weapons to next week’s presidential inauguration of Joe Biden.
In the lawsuit, Parler’s lawyers question why AWS isn’t removing support for Twitter, which is also an AWS customer.
AWS “stated the reason for the suspension was that AWS was not confident Parler could properly police its platform regarding content that encourages or incites violence against others,” the lawsuit said. “However, (on) Friday night one of the top trending tweets on Twitter was ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ But AWS has no plans nor has it made any threats to suspend Twitter’s account.”
Twitter declined to comment.
Parler became the number one free downloaded app on Apple’s App Store after Twitter announced that it was permanently banning Trump from its platform. “Conservative users began to flee Twitter en masse for Parler,” the lawsuit said.
John Matze, founder and CEO of Parler, condemned the tech giants’ moves. In a series of posts on Parler over the weekend, he said his platform had removed its violent content and adding that its community guidelines don’t allow Parler to be knowingly used for criminal activity.
Matze said Monday that the Parler app will be down “longer than expected” because other cloud hosting companies do not want to work with Parler in light of the press statements issued by Amazon, Google and Apple.
“This is not due to software restrictions — we have our software and everyone’s data ready to go. Rather it’s that Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s statements to the press about dropping our access has caused most of our other vendors to drop their support for us as well,” Matze said.
He added: “Most people with enough servers to host us have shut their doors to us. We will update everyone and update the press when we are back online.”
Parler has transferred its domain name to Epik, which hosts the similar far-right social media network Gab. However, it still needs to find a hosting provider.
Gab, a social network known for its far-right userbase and a frequent host of hate speech, appears to be benefiting from the fallout. On Monday, Gab CEO Andrew Torba announced that the platform had gained 600,000 new users.
— CNBC’s Annie Palmer contributed to this report.