(Reuters) - Parler urged a U.S. judge on Thursday to order Amazon.com Inc to restore the company’s account, saying Amazon had no evidence the social media platform was used to incite last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol.
At a hearing in Seattle federal court, Parler’s lawyer, David Groesbeck, said the company would suffer irreparable harm if forced to close and that keeping it alive served the public interest. He also downplayed Parler’s role in the Jan. 6 riot in Washington by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
“Millions of law-abiding Americans have had their voices silenced,” Groesbeck told U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein. “There is no evidence, other than some anecdotal press references, that Parler was involved in inciting the riots.”
Parler is favored by many Trump supporters and claimed more than 12 million users.
Amazon Web Services cut off Parler on Sunday night, saying Parler had shrugged off repeated warnings to remove violent content.
It said that content included calls to assassinate Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg and members of the media.
Ambika Doran, a lawyer for Amazon, said Parler violated its contract by allowing such content and had not shown it could effectively monitor content.
“Amazon made the only real choice that it could, which was to suspend the account,” she said.
Parler said Amazon had no contractual right to pull the plug and did so in a politically motivated bid to benefit Twitter Inc, a larger Amazon client that Parler said did not censor violent content targeting conservatives. In a statement, Amazon said that “suspending Parler had nothing to do with politics.”
Parler wants a temporary court order that it be restored to Amazon’s servers while it litigates.
Rothstein said she would rule “as quickly as possible.”
Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google removed Parler from their app stores after last week’s unrest.
John Matze, Parler’s chief executive, told Reuters on Wednesday that Parler may never get back online, but said later that it would return and be stronger.
Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in San Francisco and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney
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