Parler: A Twitter alternative gets shut down

Parler: A Twitter alternative gets shut down

When Twitter and Facebook banned Donald Trump and cracked down on conspiracy theories, Parler was supposed to be the social network to step into the void, said Gilad Edelman in Wired.com. It had, after all, “billed itself as a free-speech paradise, a haven for conservative users who believe Big Tech is out to silence them.” But it turned out there was no haven from Big Tech after all. Not only did Apple and Google kick Parler out of their app stores—last week Amazon cut off Parler’s access to its web services. That meant Parler “vanished from the internet,” said Joseph Menn in Reuters.com. It has “partially returned” with only a bare-bones website, hosted by a Russian company that has worked with racist, far-right, and conspiracy sites.

Apple, Google, and Amazon say Parler didn’t do enough to moderate its content, said Rachel Bovard in Newsweek.com. “This is rich,” coming from companies that have never had a problem with Facebook and Twitter. Last year, representatives of the major tech companies “sat on stage at a Department of Justice workshop” and insisted that what circulates on social media isn’t their responsibility. They said if you don’t like the existing social media companies, go ahead and build your own. It turns out that was “really nothing more than a slogan”—or a rationalization.

Amazon was well within its rights to boot the right-wing social network Parler off its cloud service, said Jonah Goldberg in TheDispatch.com. Parler was “used by jackasses to foment violence and hatred” in the days leading up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol. “The First Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, constrains what the federal government can do.” But it also gives the “right (and obligation) to private institutions, and even some public ones,” to say, “We want no part of this” behavior. Parler is now suing Amazon for forcing its website to go dark. But that suit is “bound to fail.” Just as any restaurant can say, “‘No shirt, no shoes, no service,’ Amazon can say, ‘No calls for civil war or genocide.’”

If it’s really that simple, it’s strange that even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey “has second thoughts,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. We rarely find ourselves on the same side as him on speech controls. But we give him credit “for at least reflecting on his decisions and the new world the tech titans are creating.” In a series of Twitter posts, Dorsey said that his company always told users they can “go to another internet service,” but that principle is challenged if companies like Amazon won’t host what they find dangerous. Continuing down this path means the “erosion of a free and open internet.”

 

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