Judge Easily Rejects Parler's Demands To Have Amazon Reinstate Parler

from the nicely-done dept

As was totally expected, US district court judge, Barbara Jacobs Rothstein, has handily rejected Parler's motion to force Amazon to turn Parler's digital lights back on. The order is pretty short and sweet, basically saying that Parler hasn't even remotely shown a likelihood of success in the case that would lead to having the court order Amazon to take the social media site back.

On the antitrust claims, the judge points out that these appear to be a figment of Parler's imagination:

At this stage in the proceedings, Parler has failed to demonstrate that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its Sherman Act claim. While Parler has not yet had an opportunity to conduct discovery, the evidence it has submitted in support of the claim is both dwindlingly slight, and disputed by AWS. Importantly, Parler has submitted no evidence that AWS and Twitter acted together intentionally—or even at all—in restraint of trade....

Indeed, Parler has failed to do more than raise the specter of preferential treatment of Twitter by AWS. The sum of its allegation is that “by pulling the plug on Parler but leaving Twitter alone despite identical conduct by users on both sites, AWS reveals that its expressed reasons for suspending Parler’s account are but pretext.”... But Parler and Twitter are not similarly situated, because AWS does not provide online hosting services to Twitter. Parler’s unsupported allegation that “AWS provides online hosting services to both Parler and Twitter” is explicitly denied in a sworn declaration by an AWS executive.... (“Twitter’s principal social-media service (the “Twitter Feed”) does not run on AWS. . . . On December 15, 2020, AWS announced that it signed an agreement with Twitter for AWS to begin servicing the Twitter Feed for the first time. . . . We do not yet service the Twitter Feed, and I am not aware of any particular timeline for doing so.”). Thus, as AWS asserts, “it could not have suspended access to Twitter’s content” because “it does not host Twitter.”

For what it's worth the judge doesn't even note the other huge weakness in Parler's "antitrust claims." I had intended to write a post about this, but now that this order is out, that post may be moot: Parler's CEO in his own declaration undermined the entirety of the antitrust claim by admitting that there were at least half a dozen other "large" cloud providers beyond Amazon. It's true that none of them wanted to do business with Parler, but it sort of highlights that there's competition in the market:

Parler reached out to at least six extremely large potential providers— all of which refused to host Parler for one of two reasons.

The "strongest" (and I use that term in the sense of the "tallest of the ants" meaning) of the claims was probably the breach of contract claim, in which Parler said AWS's terms require 30 days notice for termination. As we wrote, however, the terms also allow for a suspension of service in much less time, and Amazon insists that Parler's service was suspended rather than terminated. The judge, not surprisingly, did read the whole of the terms of service, rather than just the convenient bit Parler's lawyer wanted her to read:

Parler has not denied that content posted on its platform violated the terms of the CSA and the AUP; it claims only that AWS failed to provide notice to Parler that Parler was in breach, and to give Parler 30 days to cure, as Parler claims is required per Section 7.2(b)(i). However, Parler fails to acknowledge, let alone dispute, that Section 7.2(b)(ii)—the provision immediately following—authorizes AWS to terminate the Agreement “immediately upon notice” and without providing any opportunity to cure “if [AWS has] the right to suspend under Section 6.” And Section 6 provides, in turn, that AWS may “suspend [Parler’s or its] End User’s right to access or use any portion or all of the Service Offerings immediately upon notice” for a number of reasons, including if AWS determines that Parler is “in breach of this Agreement.” In short, the CSA gives AWS the right either to suspend or to terminate, immediately upon notice, in the event Parler is in breach.

Parler has not denied that at the time AWS invoked its termination or suspension rights under Sections 4, 6 and 7, Parler was in violation of the Agreement and the AUP. It has therefore failed, at this stage in the proceedings, to demonstrate a likelihood of success on its breach of contract claim.

Then there's the intentional interference claim, which almost never flies, because it's almost always just an attempt to repeat earlier claims with a "and this is serious." Here, it's just pathetic. And the judge knows that.

Parler has failed to allege basic facts that would support several elements of this claim. Most fatally, as discussed above, it has failed to raise more than the scantest speculation that AWS’s actions were taken for an improper purpose or by improper means. Conversely, AWS has denied it acted improperly, justifying its actions as a lawful exercise of rights it had pursuant to either the suspension or the termination provisions of the CSA. Further, for the reasons outlined supra, §§ III.B.(1) & (2), Parler has failed to demonstrate the likelihood that AWS breached the CSA. To the contrary, the evidence at this point suggests that AWS’s termination of the CSA was in response to Parler’s material breach. Parler has therefore not demonstrated a likelihood of success on this claim.

The judge does admit that Parler may be right that there are irreparable harms here, but its failure to plead a winnable case means that doesn't much matter. Finally, there's an interesting paragraph on the public interest arguments in the case:

The Court explicitly rejects any suggestion that the balance of equities or the public interest favors obligating AWS to host the kind of abusive, violent content at issue in this case, particularly in light of the recent riots at the U.S. Capitol. That event was a tragic reminder that inflammatory rhetoric can—more swiftly and easily than many of us would have hoped—turn a lawful protest into a violent insurrection. The Court rejects any suggestion that the public interest favors requiring AWS to host the incendiary speech that the record shows some of Parler’s users have engaged in. At this stage, on the showing made thus far, neither the public interest nor the balance of equities favors granting an injunction in this case.

Separately, it's worth noting that the judge called out the fact that this is not a case about free speech or the 1st Amendment, as some have tried to frame it:

It is important to note what this case is not about. Parler is not asserting a violation of any First Amendment rights, which exist only against a governmental entity, and not against a private company like AWS. And indeed, Parler has not disputed that at least some of the abusive and violent posts that gave rise to the issues in this case violate AWS’s Acceptable Use Policy.

Overall, the ruling was basically exactly what most people were expecting. The case still moves on, for now, as this was just rejecting the request for a temporary restraining order (effectively forcing Amazon to rehost Parler). But I would imagine this does not bode well for the next step, which is likely a motion to dismiss the entire lawsuit from Amazon, which the judge seems likely to grant on similar grounds as was used for this ruling.

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Filed Under: antitrust, aws, breach of contract, temporary restraining order
Companies: amazon, parler, twitter


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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 21 Jan 2021 @ 3:49pm

    Par-lie

    So, Parler was lying all this time about AWS hosting twitter?

    …You don't say…

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

    • icon
      Strawb (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 12:30am

      Re: Par-lie

      That, or the lawyers just suck at research.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:07am

        Re: Re: Par-lie

        Or, they knew they would never actually win the case, so those claims were thrown out as red meat to Parler's userbase as a way to play the victim. They know they attract the kinds of people who will accept wild claims without evidence, so they know that pretending there's a grand conspiracy against them will work to retain some of that base, even if there's no possible way the claims could be factual..

        I've noticed this pattern a lot over the last few years - people who pander to that type of base aren't necessarily stupid themselves, but they know they lose nothing by pretending to be stupid and pandering to those who are. See also: Ted Cruz's recent Tweet about how rejoining the Paris climate agreement means that Biden cares more about the people of Paris than the people of the US. He might not be so dumb that he actually believes that the agreement is about Paris and not just named after the place the agreement was signed, but he knows the people he wrote that tweet really are that stupid and he wants them to support him.

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

        • icon
          Strawb (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

          Or, they knew they would never actually win the case, so those claims were thrown out as red meat to Parler's userbase as a way to play the victim. They know they attract the kinds of people who will accept wild claims without evidence, so they know that pretending there's a grand conspiracy against them will work to retain some of that base, even if there's no possible way the claims could be factual..

          I know we're already talking about lawyers that seem fairly incompetent, but that makes no sense. Why intentionally include claims that are useless in a legal sense, just to rile up users that seem intent on sticking around anyway?

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 2:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

            Because Parler's entire attraction is to people who have been kicked off other platforms, which usually suggests a lot of QAnon and other conspiracy types among the outright white suprematists.

            If they can feed a narrative that they're poor innocent victims of a Big Tech conspiracy designed to silence right-wing voices, that gets them a lot of play, and if all that costs them is looking like idiots to people who'd never consider using them in the first places, then it really doesn't cost them much at all. If they'd have just posed a lawsuit with just verifiable logical facts, that's boring and risks losing attention from the conspiracy weirdos who they hope to monetise when they return.

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

            • icon
              Strawb (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 2:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

              But on the other hand, a competent and cohesive argument for reinstatement of the website that could have given them the website back would've painted them as heroes who fight, and win, against Big Tech. That would have been a big win on the user front.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 3:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

                " a competent and cohesive argument for reinstatement of the website"

                Hahaha - good one.

                "could have given them the website back"
                . They can do this themselves (elsewhere), why do they need help?

                " heroes who fight, and win, against Big Tech"
                . omg - not another stupid super hero movie

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

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 3:08am

                a competent and cohesive argument for reinstatement of the website that could have given them the website back would've painted them as heroes

                What sucks for them: The only person who could make that argument is John Jacob Hedoesn’texist.

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

                • icon
                  Strawb (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:15am

                  Re:

                  Amazon's lawyers said previously that they would be willing to reinstate the site if Parler agreed to implementing proper moderation policies. So I don't think it's inconceivable that Parler's lawyers could have made the argument.

                  They just failed to in this case.

                  To be clear, Parler reaped what it sowed, but the idea that Parler would intentionally throw away a potential win against Big Tech, who their users hate anyway, doesn't make sense to me. At least not compared to the alternative.

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

                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 7:04am

                    I don't think it's inconceivable that Parler's lawyers could have made the argument.

                    What argument? Even if Parler cleaned up its act, Amazon would’ve had no legal obligation to host the site again. Amazon had legally voided the contract in good faith.

                    the idea that Parler would intentionally throw away a potential win against Big Tech, who their users hate anyway, doesn't make sense to me

                    “Persecution complex” and “martyr” come to mind.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 5:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

                "a competent and cohesive argument for reinstatement of the website"

                There was no such thing. The evidence was that they were kicked off for contract violation, so they have no defence there. The lawsuit was also utter rubbish to begin with in terms of rights, since they have hundreds of other hosting options.

                The did not have any realistic chance of winning among the reality-based community. All they have is virtue signalling to their base who will not, for example, look far enough into their claims about Twitter to understand why Amazon could not have done anything about Twitter.

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

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

                "...would've painted them as heroes who fight, and win, against Big Tech. That would have been a big win on the user front."

                And then what? The whole point of the narrative sold to the benighted morons of the Trump cult, is that they must always be in danger. Always in fear. Always with someone to hate. Always with someone to guide their way by upholding a light of truth, justice, and Apple pie...or, push comes to shove, another war, another terrorist scare, or some murky antifan shadow cabal out to kidnap and sell your kids.

                Much more to gain by remaining the perpetual martyr. They rely on the narrative that they are, in fact, the persecuted minority for holding a difference of opinion and tend to be very quiet that said opinion is one in favor of white supremacy and racism.
                They can't do that if they actually win the public argument and have to start competing with real issues instead.

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

                • icon
                  Strawb (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:17am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

                  Much more to gain by remaining the perpetual martyr. They rely on the narrative that they are, in fact, the persecuted minority for holding a difference of opinion and tend to be very quiet that said opinion is one in favor of white supremacy and racism.
                  They can't do that if they actually win the public argument and have to start competing with real issues instead.

                  Seems to me that a "David v Goliath"-style win, even if it was just a tiny part of the whole lawsuit, would be more beneficial to them here.

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

                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 7:17am

                    Seems to me that a "David v Goliath"-style win, even if it was just a tiny part of the whole lawsuit, would be more beneficial to them here.

                    You don’t understand modern conservative belief, then. Its entire ethos is simultaneously fear (of the Repugnant Cultural Other), dominance of the “lesser” (at any cost), and martyrdom (despite a lack of persecution). Look at the War on Christmas: Fear of “liberals taking away Christmas”, dominance displays of saying “Merry Christmas” and showing off Christian symbolism, and martyrdom based on “all this diversity is ruining our Christmas” and “the liberal media is laughing at us” and whatnot.

                    Parler losing feeds the “woe be unto conservatives” martyrdom narrative. It allows Parler to foment anger towards “Big Tech”. And it even lets them display a form of dominance by going “not even Amazon couldn’t take us offline”. Parler winning the case would’ve given them none of that. I’m not saying the Parler legal team threw the case. But Parler stood to gain more in the long run from a loss.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 7:55am

                      Re:

                      One has to question whether moderating the majority of those outstanding complaints would have resulted in Parler being accused of a bias against conservative views.

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

                    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                      identicon
                      TheVengeful, 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:56am

                      Re:

                      Didn't need Parler for this. Id kill as many lefties in a second civil war as possible for the sake of my continued survival.'

                      Nothing personal, we just arent compatible and my previous "live and let live" mantra isn't exactly popular anymore.

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

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 11:14am

                        Re: Re:

                        Yeah, settle down buddy.

                        You've been conned into thinking you're stronger than you are. I can tell this by the number of "patriots" who stormed the capitol are crying like little bitches now that they're losing their reputations, businesses, jobs, and freedom.

                        Being a tacticool, cosplaying LARPer might impress your friends, but you're not nearly as much as a threat as you think you are.

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

                      • icon
                        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 11:26am

                        The previous president allowed, through incompetence and malfeasance, a deadly pandemic to spread and kill (as of today) over 400,000 Americans — which is far more than the combat losses in World War II, World War I, the Civil War (both the Union and the Confederacy combined!), and…well, basically any military conflict of which the U.S. has been a part.

                        But you apparently think “leftists” are responsible for that for some reason.

                        The problem with your thinking is that “leftists” — nice broad, no-definition, paint-everybody-the-same label, by the way — haven’t generally shown the same level of bloodthirst as those on the other “side”. It wasn’t “leftists” who fomented a mob by delcaring (without evidence) that a presidential election was rigged/stolen. They didn’t toss away a pandemic playbook and had no national response ready for a national public health crisis. And your supposed enemies — the ones you claim to want to kill for your “continued survival” — didn’t tell the American public to inject bleach into their bodies as a means of fighting off the coronavirus. That all happened under the watch of a president from the GOP.

                        You’ve likely been duped by years of being told “leftists” and Democrats and anyone who isn’t one step right of the political center are all trying to “kill” America. Radio talk show hosts, TV pundits, newspaper columnists — if you’re stuck in the right-wing mediasphere, you’re at least knee-deep in the muck of “the left wants fully automated luxury gay space communism”. But the political left of the United States isn’t trying to “kill” America. It’s trying to work on furthering solutions to numerous sociopolitical problems all at once. Most of those issues stem from either systemic bigotry, economic inequality, or both. And while they may not be perfect on that front, at least they’re trying. Republicans would rather let people die and decrease “the surplus population” than do anything to lessen any given crisis faced by the average American.

                        If you don’t think any of that is true, I have two words for you: Flint, Michigan. Think hard about what was allowed to happen here, then consider who allowed it to happen through either unintentional ignorance or intentional malfeasance. If you still think “leftists” are the biggest threat to your existence after that? Nothing anyone can say will convince you otherwise.

                        Your unwillingness to change your mind is the larger threat to your existence. The blame for that lies entirely on you.

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

                      • icon
                        bhull242 (profile), 23 Jan 2021 @ 10:16am

                        Re: Re:

                        my previous "live and let live" mantra isn't exactly popular anymore.

                        Why does the popularity of your mantra matter?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 5:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

            Why intentionally include claims that are useless in a legal sense, just to rile up users that seem intent on sticking around anyway?

            It's a standard play for them. It's what Rudy, the AssKraken, and that other nutcase did for two months.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

            "Why intentionally include claims that are useless in a legal sense, just to rile up users that seem intent on sticking around anyway?"

            Reinforcement.
            The people of the Trump cult used to be part of the GWB cult, before which they were part of the Nixon cult, the Goldwater cult, the KKK...
            ...And today they fully believe in the antifan cabal of satanist child-traffickers led by Hillary and the nefarious Kenyan Muslim while yesterday they subscribed fully to all society's ills being the fault of russian commies.

            That sort of narrative doesn't stick around by itself. If no one keeps screaming about it, eventually even the dumbest dimbulbs will look around and wonder how come they aren't seeing hide nor hair of all those antifan BLM shock troops coming for their guns and children. So Parler, Trump lawyers, and the republican politicians eager to pick up the voter base Trump left behind, need to keep parroting the narrative.

            Cruz is just being a typical republican politician. He feels free and compelled to pour out the most obvious garbage even when it manifestly makes him look like a fool...simply because the people he addresses and whose votes he wants, are dumb enough to eat it up.

            The republicans have lowered themselves to rely on a base which blindly follows them for as long as that base is kept off balance by having messages of impending doom persistently blared into their ears.

            TL;DR?

            Riling the 74 millions up and keeping them riled up is the whole point. If they stopped fearing and hating, they might start to think.

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

          • icon
            James Burkhardt (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 8:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

            I know we're already talking about lawyers that seem fairly incompetent, but that makes no sense. Why intentionally include claims that are useless in a legal sense, just to rile up users that seem intent on sticking around anyway?

            Once again I plug All the President's Lawyers, a podcast from KCRW featuring Ken "Popehat" White.

            Not all lawsuits are about winning. Some are about the performative messaging. Like the impeachment against joe biden - the claims have been adjudicated by the house, the senete, and the OLC and there is nothing there. But filing these articles signals to her base, makes her look to them like shes fighting, and that gives her political capital from doing nothing. Same with parler.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2021 @ 3:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Par-lie

              I read she did not file her promised Biden impeachment because she thought it would be easier.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Jan 2021 @ 4:19pm

    Someone break out the aloe

    That judge was not pulling any punches, they were positively ripping Parler's arguments to pieces though when those arguments are that pathetically weak I suppose that doesn't take much to do.

    With the TRO denied and Parler already having admitted that they can't afford to fight this(strange that, given who funded it...) I expect that Parler will slink off with their tail between their legs, whining all the while about how this just proves that 'conservatives'(read: assholes) are 'persecuted'(read: suffer consequences for their actions), with the site turned into a martyr for assholes to whine about and use to con gullible suckers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2021 @ 4:38pm

    TRO / PI

    … as this was just rejecting the request for a temporary restraining order…

    To be precise, you should distinguish between temporary restraining orders (TROs) and preliminary injunctions under FRCP Rule 65.

    From Judge Rothstein's order today —

    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.

    (Emphasis.)

    Iow, procedurally, Parler's initial request was for a TRO, but the rejection today was for a PI.

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

  • identicon
    David, 21 Jan 2021 @ 4:42pm

    Government must force someone to sell me a soap box!

    Maybe if you stopped hitting people in the head with those soap boxes...

    By the way, reminds me of this quote from "To Kill a Mockingbird":

    Way back about nineteen-twenty there was a Klan, but it was a political organization more than anything. Besides, they couldn't find anybody to scare. They paraded by Mr. Sam Levy's house one night, but Sam just stood on his porch and told 'em things had come to a pretty pass, he'd sold 'em the very sheets on their backs. Sam made 'em so ashamed of themselves they went away.

    Now of course Parler is not to be shamed into going away, but they are complaining that nobody is selling them sheets.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 21 Jan 2021 @ 5:27pm

    I hope Parler sticks around

    It will be a good way to keep an eye on the loose screws.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2021 @ 6:26pm

      Re: I hope Parler sticks around

      Being on Russian servers is a great way to get US intelligence agencies to watch you like a hawk.

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

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 21 Jan 2021 @ 11:31pm

    The judge, not surprisingly, did read the whole of the terms of
    service, rather than just the convenient bit Parler's lawyer wanted
    her to read:

    Only the best of the best, those lawyers.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 12:41am

    Leaving Parler aside ...

    ... this case puts a big question mark behind the strategy to work with cloud services in general.

    Even if Amazon's lawyers have written provisions into their small print that gives Amazon the right to immediately, without warning and with giving time for arguments or remedy, pull the plug on an entire platform because they believe that some users of a service may have posted inappropriate content?
    Not courts involved, nothing illegal done by Amazon's customer (Parler, in this case), just an allegation that "Parler could have done more" to police their customer's content?

    Amazon may have written itself a legal basis for acting the way they did.

    But they have also put a big question mark behind every customer's decision to work with them.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:15am

      Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

      "pull the plug on an entire platform because they believe that some users of a service may have posted inappropriate content?"

      They didn't do that. They did it because they had 26,000 outstanding complaints that Parler had refused to deal with, and they'd given them plenty of slack to deal with this, until an armed insurrection attempt associated with the platform threatened to lose them other business and decided they had to finally act.

      "Not courts involved"

      No courts are normally involved in private contract disputes until one party takes it to the courts. They have in this case, nd the courts agree that Amazon were correct.

      "nothing illegal done by Amazon's customer"

      Private property owners always reserve the right to kick you out, even if you did something legal, online or offline. It's legal for you to wear nothing but a pair of shorts. A restaurant still can enforce their "no shirt no shoes no service" rule. No lawbreaking is necessary for you to break a contract or terms of service.

      "Amazon may have written itself a legal basis for acting the way they did."

      Not outside the minds of people who think that Amazon should not police their own platform unless they abide some rules they just made up.

      "But they have also put a big question mark behind every customer's decision to work with them."

      Not as big as the one over continuing to work with a platform that happily hosts white supremacist and treasonous content. But, that's a decision for each customer to consider, and I don't think Amazon will lose many of those over this. Even if so, so what? They acted, and they are happy to deal with the consequences of their actions, unlike the crybabies over at Parler.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Mike, 22 Jan 2021 @ 5:37am

        Stop exaggerating

        They did it because they had 26,000 outstanding complaints

        They had 26k reports in their moderation queue. Amazon had only a few hundred specific ones to review. You don't make the situation any better by lying about it like this. The fact is that Parler wasn't overwhelmed by reports from AWS and could have easily hired a few moderators for $10/hr in coal country to do enforce their moderation rules.

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 5:50am

          Parler wasn't overwhelmed by reports from AWS and could have easily hired a few moderators for $10/hr in coal country to do enforce their moderation rules

          And yet, they didn’t. Which is why it had a backlog of 26,000 reports. Which is why Amazon said “th’fuck outta here” to Parler.

          Blame Parler for its failures. Amazon didn’t force them into ignoring thousands of reports or refusing to hire moderators.

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

          • identicon
            Mike, 22 Jan 2021 @ 8:18am

            Re:

            And yet, they didn’t.

            So what's your argument, then? Pissed that someone who normally disagrees with you is generally agreeing that Parler own-goaled this?

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

            • icon
              James Burkhardt (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 9:23am

              Re: Re:

              Actually, I think it is that your evidence doesn't support your point.

              That they would have needed to hire moderators to deal with AWS complaints is evidence that they were indeed overwhelmed by AWS complaints. If they can not handle it with then-current staffing levels, they were overwhelmed.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 9:37am

                Re: Re: Re:

                That they would have needed to hire moderators to deal with AWS complaints is evidence that they were indeed overwhelmed by AWS complaints.

                Not necessarily, and in this case probably not, as the other factor to consider is over what time period were those complaints spread. It makes a big difference whether they were sent in one minute, or over several months.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:18am

          Re: Stop exaggerating

          "The fact is that Parler wasn't overwhelmed by reports from AWS and could have easily hired a few moderators for $10/hr in coal country to do enforce their moderation rules."

          ...and didn't. If your assertion is true that only makes it so much worse for Parler's sake.

          They were basically told by their landlord that they needed to potty-train their kids rather than let those kids do their business on the breakfast table. And they couldn't be arsed to do that so the landlord turned them out on their ear. Case closed.

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

          • identicon
            David, 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:23pm

            Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

            They were basically told by their landlord that they needed to potty-train their kids rather than let those kids do their business on the breakfast table. And they couldn't be arsed to do that so the landlord turned them out on their ear. Case closed.

            Problem is that they marketed themselves as the platform of choice for breakfast table defecators.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 6:35am

          Re: Stop exaggerating

          “ “They had 26k reports in their moderation queue. Amazon had only a few hundred specific ones to review”

          This might surprise you, but companies can take into account things not directly reported to them in decisions, they also consider widely known public facts”

          “ could have easily hired a few moderators for $10/hr in coal country to do enforce their moderation rules”

          Even though that’s an idiotic take, they didn’t do that. Hence the ban.

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

          • identicon
            Mike, 22 Jan 2021 @ 8:17am

            Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

            This might surprise you, but companies can take into account things not directly reported to them in decisions, they also consider widely known public facts”

            This might surprise you, but I said "stop exaggerating" WRT how hard it was for Parler to keep AWS happy, not as an argument that AWS had to keep hosting them.

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

            • icon
              James Burkhardt (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 9:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

              No one is arguing that parlor couldn't have chosen to keep AWS happy. The argument you responded to was that parlor, rather than beging kicked off for vague suggestions of inappropriate content, was overwhelmed by the scale of reports needing moderation review, could or would not prioritize AWS reports, and so was booted.

              You are the the only one suggesting that the size of the queue precluded the ability of parlor to fix the issues presented by AWS. The size instead highlights Parlor's apathy to addressing the issue, which goes directly against the argument Peter made that parlor was acting in good faith and Amazon did not give them red flag knowledge of bad posts. PaulT's responce, which you represented as suggesting that Parlor couldn't have made AWS happy, was in fact an argument that Parlor refused to make AWS happy by, in part, highlighting that Parlor had not ever taken moderation seriously, which you appear to agree with.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:43am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                No one is arguing that parlor couldn't have chosen to keep AWS happy.

                'Cept for perhaps Amazon.

                From a Twitter thread reporting on the hearing:

                Judge: Does that mean Amazon is still open to reinstatement with an effective moderation plan, or am I putting you on the spot?

                @awscloud's lawyer: Your honor, it's almost irrelevant because there's no way for them to fix this within 30, 60, or 90 days. Nobody from Parler attests that this is something that they can do, or even that it's possible.

                (Hyperlinks go to successive tweets in that thread.)

                Compare with Katherine Khashimova Long's report in the Seattle Times yesterday, “Amazon can keep Parler offline, judge rules” (Jan 21, 2021)

                “There is no reason to think (Parler) could develop an effective moderation plan,” Amazon attorney Ambika Doran of Davis Wright Tremaine said at the hearing.

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

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 11:31am

                  There is no reason to think (Parler) could develop an effective moderation plan

                  This is true.

                  So your point is…what, then? 🤔

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

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 1:37pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                  The 'problem' Parler faces is that any attempt to comply with Amazon's moderation requirements by taking moderation seriously is likely to drive off a large chunk of their user base, which is likely why they said it wasn't possible.

                  When your entire shtick is making it clear that you welcome the people that other social media platforms kicked off for violating the rules/being too toxic to allow turning around and telling those same people 'Yeah, we're not just going to penalize the people trolling you but you as well if you act badly' is going to go over really poorly and alienate a large chunk of the user base, gutting the main draw of the site and user numbers both current and future.

                  Or in tl;dr format, Parler's in a no-win situation when it comes to moderation, but that's entirely their own fault.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 9:10pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                    This thinking is a double edged sword. Sure, a chunk of their userbase was kicked off other platforms, but who is the judge on if those people are too toxic to be any place on the internet? Their competitor, twitter, who banned them? Amazon?

                    This isn't a road we want to go down. Even if they started banning people in violation of Amazon's ToS, that doesn't actually draw a line on how much moderation or what level of moderation is expected.

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

                    • icon
                      PaulT (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:23pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                      "who is the judge on if those people are too toxic to be any place on the internet?"

                      Those people have thousands of choices available, including setting up their own platform, individually or as groups who agree to work with each other. If they have lost all of these choices because of their toxic behaviour, the judges are the thousands of unconnected individuals they have convinced not to work with them.

                      "Even if they started banning people in violation of Amazon's ToS, that doesn't actually draw a line on how much moderation or what level of moderation is expected."

                      That's a private matter between Amazon and Parler as per their contract and their communications between each other. Amazon have the right to terminate the contract if they feel it is not being adhered to, Parler have many non-Amazon choices for hosting if they're not happy with their side of the deal. As with any private contract, the line is the one agreed between the two parties of that contract.

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

                    • icon
                      That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:25pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                      This thinking is a double edged sword. Sure, a chunk of their userbase was kicked off other platforms, but who is the judge on if those people are too toxic to be any place on the internet?

                      First and foremost the platforms kicking them off, then any other platforms they might try to migrate too, as all the while the public makes their own determinations on how justified or not the bans were. Just because someone finds themselves unwelcome everywhere they go doesn't necessarily mean they're being unfairly persecuted, it's also possible that they're just an asshole no-one wants to be around.

                      This isn't a road we want to go down. Even if they started banning people in violation of Amazon's ToS, that doesn't actually draw a line on how much moderation or what level of moderation is expected.

                      I'd be curious to hear what your alternative is because that's a road we're already well down where private platforms get to decide which speech they will and will not accept and/or support. As for 'how much is expected' more than they were doing would have probably been a good start, but at the point Amazon gave them the boot Parler had basically screwed itself on that front because of the immediacy of the issue.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 9:13pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                  "@awscloud's lawyer: Your honor, it's almost irrelevant because there's no way for them to fix this within 30, 60, or 90 days. Nobody from Parler attests that this is something that they can do, or even that it's possible."

                  Like this, right here. Let's say they didn't do this to Parler, and instead another website, when asked their response is simply "There's nothing they can do or would be willing to do."
                  Shouldn't we be worried about the implications of that?

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

                  • icon
                    That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:44pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                    Like this, right here. Let's say they didn't do this to Parler, and instead another website, when asked their response is simply "There's nothing they can do or would be willing to do."
                    Shouldn't we be worried about the implications of that?

                    If a particular store demands that all customers wear a shirt, one of them refuses and is denied service because of that there's no 'implications' that need to be worried about, it's simply the store making clear that you either follow their rules or they won't serve you.

                    Ultimately Amazon is a very much for-profit company, they aren't going to go around cutting off customers on a whim because that's going to screw with their current and future profits so this is likely one of the rare cases where pure self-interest and greed will act as a check against going too crazy rather than motivation for them to do so.

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

                  • icon
                    bhull242 (profile), 23 Jan 2021 @ 10:25am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                    If someone is unable to afford a shirt or unwilling to wear one, that doesn’t mean that a policy of “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” is problematic. That a person is unable and/or unwilling to follow the rules doesn’t necessarily mean that the rules themselves are the problem.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2021 @ 7:13am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop exaggerating

                    Shouldn't we be worried about the implications of that?

                    Generally, I dislike the term, “concern trolling”. But what you wrote here is simply “concern trolling.”

                    In the instance at hand, Amazon's total response, isn't limited to just simply — one simple answer — to one simple question — asked by the judge during a single, simple hearing. Instead, within this same context, Amazon has argued (p.11 of the brief):

                    Parler’s antitrust allegations fail also because they do not even plead the basic requirements of a Sherman Act claim, such as how competition is harmed, the relevant product and geographic markets, the share of those markets enjoyed by AWS, and others.

                    Now, as Techdirt's friend, Eric Goldman relates,

                    I know many people … are concerned about a powerful web host (like AWS) kicking a customer off its network for apparently political reasons.

                    But as the FTC reminds us,

                    In general, any business — even a monopolist — may choose its business partners.

                    In my book, if you want to elevate “concerns” above the level of trolling, then you must not simply hand-wave in the vague direction of “implications”, but plausibly allege injury of the type which the antitrust laws were designed to prevent.

                    You may be trying to sell ‘generalized concerns’, but until you show me the detailed specs to compare against the competition, I'm simply not buying.

                    I do not like concern trolling, sam-i-am. Especially concern-trolling the federal courts. It's pretty simple.

                    That said, I do hope to see Parler's first amended complaint before the expected motion to dismiss gets decided. They were obviously in a simple hurry when they filed their initial complaint, and now they're getting some time to remedy that basic problem.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 8:33am

          Re: Stop exaggerating

          The fact is that Parler wasn't overwhelmed by reports from AWS and could have easily hired a few moderators for $10/hr in coal country to do enforce their moderation rules.

          So take advantage of simple-minded, out of work coal miners, left behind by the NYC conman who suckered them for 4 years, by paying them less than what they'd make at the local Walmart.

          How nice! Perhaps you can call them "essential" while you're at it so they can contract the non-existent COVID flu?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 2:04am

      Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

      "This case puts a big question mark behind the strategy to work with cloud services in general."
      . That question mark was there all along, some simply ignored it.

      "because they believe that some users of a service may have posted inappropriate content"
      . No, because the website admin did not moderate appropriately, in accordance with the terms of service that they agreed to before use of service.

      "nothing illegal done by Amazon's customer "
      . afaik, breaking a contract is a civil matter as opposed to criminal. Am I wrong about this?

      "just an allegation"
      . I read that several notifications were sent regarding the non-compliance to the TOS and there was no reply.

      "But they have also put a big question mark behind every customer's decision to work with them."
      . weak sauce cancel culture?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 5:44am

      Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

      pull the plug on an entire platform because they believe that some users of a service may have posted inappropriate content?

      SOP for the MPAA/RIAA for decades now.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 9:08pm

        Re: Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

        I know, isn't that terrifying?
        Why do we want MORE MPAAs and RIAAs on top of the ones we already have?

        I thought Techdirt's userbase would realize the implication of exactly what you just said, but maybe not.

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

        • identicon
          Rocky, 23 Jan 2021 @ 2:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

          It's only terrifying if you conflate things. Like, deciding what's allowed on your private property is the same as stopping OTHERS from that they have on their private property and punish them for it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 9:06pm

      Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

      As they should. I don't know why everyone is suddenly in big tech's pants, because I thought techdirt's users were smart enough to realize that these are really just big companies, and they are opportunists at heart.

      Sure, no one liked or should like parler, that doesn't change the fact that this is really just paving the way for the next time this happens.
      And unlike what some of the commenters have posted, Amazon is NOT a beacon of morality. Unless you think union busting during a pandemic is a wholly moralistic view.

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

      • identicon
        Rocky, 23 Jan 2021 @ 3:03am

        Re: Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

        I don't know why everyone is suddenly in big tech's pants, because I thought techdirt's users were smart enough to realize that these are really just big companies, and they are opportunists at heart.

        Nobody is in "big tech's pants" and most are well aware of the predatory behavior they sometimes exhibit. There have been numerous articles and posts ragging on "big tech", but suddenly that means those users are beholden to "big tech" in your book?

        And unlike what some of the commenters have posted, Amazon is NOT a beacon of morality. Unless you think union busting during a pandemic is a wholly moralistic view.

        Considering you conflated things in an another post I think you don't really understand what's really going on, or you have an ax to grind since AFAIK nobody has said Amazon is a beacon of morality. People have said Amazon is RIGHT in this case.

        You are arguing in bad faith or you don't understand what you read.

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

      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 23 Jan 2021 @ 10:40am

        Re: Re: Leaving Parler aside ...

        I don't know why everyone is suddenly in big tech's pants

        We’re not. That a big tech company happens to be right in one case and that we’re saying that doesn’t make us huge supporters of Big Tech. There is nuance.

        Sure, no one liked or should like parler, that doesn't change the fact that this is really just paving the way for the next time this happens.

        You mean the next time a social media company decides to have another company handle its cloud-based infrastructure rather than doing it in-house and then fails to adhere to the terms of the contract it agreed to when it signed up despite several warnings leading to its service being suspended? Oh no. The horror.

        Dude, if you sign a contract and fail to adhere to the terms you agreed to, unless those terms are extremely onorous or something (which doesn’t appear to be the case here), the other party has every right to break off with you. I see no problems with what happened even if it was, say, Twitter being suspended instead.

        And unlike what some of the commenters have posted, Amazon is NOT a beacon of morality. Unless you think union busting during a pandemic is a wholly moralistic view.

        First of all, no one claimed that. At most, people have said that AWS had every legal right to do what they did, this lawsuit had no chance of success, and that they were right to do so. And some didn’t even go that far.

        Second, while owned by the same company, AWS and the part of Amazon that handles the warehouses are not quite the same thing. I haven’t heard anything about AWS doing any union busting.

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 12:57am

    Not really, given how reality differs from the narrative you spun.

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

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