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.”


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 BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump 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 PelosiPelosi quashes reports on Jan. 6 select committee Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed On The Money: Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall | Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure MORE (Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House draws ire of progressives amid voting rights defeat Murkowski to vote 'no' on voting rights bill Harris to preside over Senate for voting rights debate MORE (N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez says she ranked Wiley first, Stringer second in NYC mayoral vote Five things to watch in the NYC mayor's race primary Heatwaves don't lie: Telling the truth about climate change MORE (N.Y.).


Other posts targeted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergTexas governor signs ban on outside help for election administrators Hillicon Valley: NATO members agree to new cyber defense policy | YouTube banning politics, elections in masthead ads | 50 groups urge Biden to fill FCC position to reinstate net neutrality rules Pink Floyd's Roger Waters: 'No f---ing way' Zuckerberg can use our song for ad 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.