Big Tech continues their headlines for censorship by removing Parler from the internet in a coordinated effort. Demands to censor and moderate their platform came from all sides, with both Google and Apple threatening and following through with removal from their app stores. This was promptly followed by a threat from Amazon to deactivate the platform who paid Amazon for server space to host the platform.
Parler was taken offline with Amazon citing their right to remove content under Section 230. The right to free speech is paramount, and this type of action is a perfect demonstration as to why Section 230 needs to be amended.
We Don’t Have Rights When Corporations are the Regulators
So many people love to stand on the principle that corporations are not government, and therefore are incapable of infringing on the rights of others. However, we have already demonstrated how that is simply not true when your private corporation acts as a public forum with public interest.
It is often referenced that the government overtake of the private sector is a sign of fascism, but what happens when corporations overtake the role of government? Trump put a stop to this ultimate form of fascism by ending Obama’s signature Trans-Pacific Partnership global trade agreement. The TPP would have granted corporations the ability to challenge government policy and regulations internationally to protect profits and subvert government regulation altogether.
What we see now is the use of corporate power to enforce censorship of political speech, and regulate how potential competition can operate with their monopolized stranglehold on the industry. In other words, corporations are stepping up to the plate to infringe on basic rights where government is restricted from doing so.
Removing Parler in such a way has been a demonstration on the next evolution of fascism, and it should scare anyone who wants to live in a free society. Meanwhile, these measures are being praised among those who claim to be anti-fascist.
Parler is reportedly moving their content to be hosted by Epik, however their Senior VP of Communications responded to the news by touting success in their own censorship.
Specific and Violent Speech is Already Illegal
It is important to take a moment to remind people that threatening violence is already illegal and not protected by freedom of speech. The excuse for the actions being taken against Parler are due to the lack of moderation of threatening or violent content.
It is not and should not be the job of a social media platform to police speech. If anything, actual threats should remain available online for law enforcement to investigate. In fact, it is already being reported that posts of this nature have been stored with location information attached.
However, the vast majority of these types of posts are not what social media sites choose to censor. Instead, it is very obviously politically motivated, making this a clear danger to basic constitutional rights.