By Scott Hamilton
This week has been a rough week for many. Some really crazy things happened that impacted us all in ways we may not even know yet. On January 6, our capitol was breached by a group of activists in an attempt to stop the count of our electoral college votes.
This was only the start; within a few hours both Facebook and Twitter disabled the account of President Donald Trump, and in the days following, did the same to several of his supporters, both in government and among private citizens. The reason stated for the removal of these accounts was that they were being used to incite violence against the government.
These same platforms, however, have allowed accounts to remain active for several Antifa activists. These accounts were actively used to promote the violent protests in Portland and across our country, where buildings were burned, statues destroyed and several city blocks left in control of the mobs. These accounts were left active to protect free speech. It seems to me that these companies are about protecting the free speech of one side.
A term utilized to describe the technology companies that seemed to be taking one side on the political issues in our great nation is technocracy. There are two main technology companies in opposition to the technocracy, MeWe to replace Facebook and Parler to replace Twitter. On January 10, the unthinkable happened. Just weeks after my article asking if big tech could be trusted, their actions appear to clearly demonstrate that they, indeed, can not.
Parler was attacked in a most egregious manner following the horrible attacks on our capital. Parler differs from Facebook and Twitter in one major way; they allow true free speech on their platform with no fact checking or political interference. Because of the reasonable belief by many conservatives that Twitter and Facebook moderate their platforms with a strong leftwing bias, Parker was perceived to be the “conservative” Twitter. This was never a claim of the company, just a perception.
As a result of this perception, many right-wing activists frequented the platform. Parler started marketing towards this bias in the last few months, and private companies Facebook and Twitter appeared to take the attitude, if you want a conservative social media platform, go start your own.
So much for that idea. At the same time Twitter began closing conservative accounts and blocking tweets, Google, Apple and Amazon acted simultaneously to destroy Parler. Google and Apple removed the Parler application from their respective app stores. Parler was told by Google and Apple they would be blackballed until they began moderating their posts. The application was blocked on iPhones and Android based phones, but this was not enough to stop the conservative voices on the platform. Amazon cloud services, which hosted Parler’s web services, had to join the fight to effectively put Parler out of business.
Amazon, in effect, breached their contract with Parler, taking down their web services citing violations of Amazon policies by supposedly posting “violent content” and legally cancelling their contract. As it stands now, the conservative voice online has been silenced by the technocracy. John Matze, Parler CEO, told Maria Bartiromo on Morning Futures that his company’s experience demonstrates that Big Tech “has the power to destroy anybody.” And he’s right. Businesses, non-profit groups and individuals all depend on social media, e-mail and the internet to fully engage society. These tools are nearly all controlled by Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Seeing how three of the four teamed up to destroy competition would make it seem like they are actively violating anti-trust laws. However, it also seems that government dependence on these services puts them above the law.
Until next week, stay safe and learn something new.
Scott Hamilton is a Senior Expert in Emerging Technologies at ATOS and can be reached with questions and comments via email to email@example.com or through his website at http://www.techshepherd.tk.