Amazon, Apple and Google have been named defendants in a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to shut down the social-media website Parler that is injuring the individuals and organizations that used the platform as well as the company itself.
The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Florida by Freedom Watch, a nonprofit political-interest group run by former DOJ lawyer Larry Klayman.
Parler was shut down by its host, Amazon Web Services, after President Trump and thousands of conservatives were banned from social-media platforms.
The loss of Parler is damaging many, the complaint claims.
“PARLER and FREEDOM WATCH have been and will continue to be severely injured by [Amazon’s] malicious and pretextual shutdown of PARlER’s social networking platform because, during the period that PARLER is offline, many of its users will migrate to other online social networking platforms which are available on the Internet,” the complaint states.
“On information and belief, once PARLER users have migrated to another platform, many of them will not return to PARLER, and FREEDOM WATCH followers who migrate from PARLER will be lost by FREEDOM WATCH.”
The complaint notes the extent of the problem cannot be determined because the number of followers cannot be determined while Parler is offline.
The company has confirmed it plan to be back online sometime in the coming weeks.
Amazon cut off service to Parler, just as speculation grew that Trump might move his tens of millions of Twitter followers to Parler, which would have been a tremendous boost to the company.
The other two companies are accused of taking down access to the platform through their status as software application providers.
“On information and belief PARLER and FREEDOM WATCH have been and will continue to be injured by APPLE and GOOGLE’s malicious and pretextual decision to block iPhone and Android smartphone users from downloading the PARLER app. In addition to blocking potential new PARLER users from access to PARLER’s social networking platform, APPLE and GOOGLE’s wrongful refusal to allow existing PARLER users access to the PARLER app will block those existing users from staying with PARLER.”
The complaint points out that Amazon claimed it suspended Parler because the company could not properly “police its platform regarding content.”
“However, on Friday night, January 8, 2021, one of the top trending tweets on TWITTER was ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ On information and belief, AWS has no plans, nor has it made any threats, to suspend TWITTER’s account.”
The concerted effort to stifle Parler, therefore, “wrongfully interfered with FREEDOM WATCH’s freedom of expression, by depriving FREEDOM WATCH of access to the free speech oriented forum provided by PARLER,” the complaint states.
And Parler was “directly harmed” because it could not participate in “public debate and dissemination of its message,” the filing said.
The case seeks actual and compensatory damages, likely not to exceed $75,000, plus legal fees and costs.
It also asks for a court to order Amazon to restore its services to Parler.
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