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Amazon cites death threats in push to keep Parler offline

Amazon is urging a judge to keep the social media platform Parler offline, citing a series of death threats against top tech executives and elected officials posted to the site ahead of last week's deadly Capitol riot, according to a court filing from Tuesday. 

Parler sued Amazon on Monday, alleging Amazon Web Services (AWS) violated antitrust law and breached the companies’ contractual arrangement when the tech giant removed the platform that is popular with conservatives because of its hands-off approach to content moderation.

Attorneys for Amazon defended the company's move on Tuesday, saying Parler demonstrated an “unwillingness and inability” to remove content that “threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”

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The court filing went on to say that Amazon “repeatedly” notified Parler that its content violated the parties’ agreement and requested removal, “only to determine that Parler was both unwilling and unable to do so.”

Amazon said Parler's suspension was a “last resort to prevent further access to such content,” including plans for violence surrounding President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year MORE’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Parler saw a boost in popularity after the Nov. 3 presidential election, with disinformation spreading widely across the platform. The app saw another surge after the riot at the Capitol, with about 825,000 installs from the Apple and Google stores between Jan. 6 and Jan. 10, a more than 1,000 percent increase from the same period a week earlier, according to data from Sensor Tower.

Attorneys for Amazon said the company has notified Parler's chief policy officer about more than 100 pieces of content advocating violence on the platform since mid-November.

The examples cited in the court filing included death threats, directed generally at tech executives and Democratic lawmakers, as well as posts naming Democrats like Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote Clinton, Pelosi holding online Women's Day fundraiser with Chrissy Teigen, Amanda Gorman What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFirst Black secretary of Senate sworn in Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote The bizarre back story of the filibuster MORE (N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden officials urge patience on immigration amid border surge Clinton: Allegations against Cuomo 'raise serious questions,' deserve probe Ocasio-Cortez: wage only 'socialist' to those in 'dystopian capitalist nightmare' MORE (N.Y.).

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Other posts targeted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergWarren's wealth tax would cost 100 richest Americans billion Who killed the California dream? If you think it was liberals, think again Facebook touts benefits of personalized ads in new campaign MORE and Google CEO Sundar Pichai with death threats, according to the court filing.

Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Parler said "In regards to legal action, our filings will speak on our behalf."

After last week’s deadly riot at the Capitol, tech companies have taken steps to remove and restrict content that could incite more violence.

Trump supporters and right-wing extremists used platforms like Parler, as well as some mainstream social media sites, to organize ahead of the mob attack on the Capitol. Across some fringe sites, extremists are posting about potentially violent demonstrations for this weekend and Inauguration Day.

Mainstream social media sites have also taken action to limit Trump's presence on their platforms. Facebook indefinitely banned Trump at least until Biden’s inauguration, and Twitter has permanently banned the president's account. YouTube said it would temporarily suspend the president due to the “ongoing potential for violence.”

Updated at 1:20 p.m.