Many are very confused about what happened with Parler being pushed off the internet, and I think I can help.
Imagine that you’re a new virtual server provider and you have five scenarios:
You get a message saying one of your customers is hosting a joke forum that has within it some sexist jokes. Al Bundy stuff, basically, where it makes fun of women and wives and how much they annoy their husbands.
You get a message saying one of your customers is hosting a messages forum frequented by lots of early-teen males with anger issues, and evidently there is a lot of low-scale racist and sexist comments, and some homophobia. None of it seems super violent or dangerous, but it’s definitely offensive.
You get a message saying one of your customers is hosting a forum where men share pornographic images, but it’s mostly softcore and high-art type stuff. Some virtual/art and some actual photography. But it seems pretty tame and respectful, at least for what it is.
You get a message saying one of your customers is hosting a forum for general pornography, but within the last 6 months it’s gotten increasingly explicit, and now there are multiple sections that keep popping up sharing borderline-age porn images.
You get a message saying one of your customers is hosting a forum for “freedom from groupthink”, and for years it was very civil and just presented viewpoints that were counter to the mainstream politically correct opinions. But it wasn’t really directly violent or aggressive. But suddenly, over the last 6 months, it became extremely popular and now there are tons of sub-groups there who are outright promoting terrorism, racist attacks, and all sorts of horrible behavior.
Now—in all three cases—imagine that the person contacting you is saying this material is unacceptable and that they’re going to discontinue doing business with you if you don’t stop hosting them.
What do you do?
And even better—what is your process for deciding what you should do?
I think one thing should be extremely clear: as the business owner of this server hosting company, it’s up to you to decide. If you only want to host Christian bakery forums, that’s your choice. And if you only want to host Metal bands looking for drummers, that’s your choice.
There’s lots of legitimate stuff on Pirate Bay, but that doesn’t stop hosting providers from wanting to avoid the bad part.
It’s your choice to decide who to take as a customer, and who to deny, and that’s exactly what AWS did when it kicked Parler off its platform.
They didn’t stop the thousands of other hosting providers from hosting them. All they can control is their own service. It’s up to their competitors if they want to do business with them now that AWS doesn’t. And that’s where Pirate Bay comes in.
Remember Pirate Bay? Remember how they repeatedly got caught hosting questionable content, and then subsequently kept getting kicked off of various hosting services? One after another made the individual choice not to take them on as a customer based on the content that they seem to allow on their service.
This is no different.
Parler did appear to start out as just an alternative place for conversation. But that was a long time ago. And as things started heating up the place evidently kept getting more and more extreme. And then it turned out to be used by a significant number of the people who attacked the Capitol.
Well, yeah. That’s likely to get you kicked off of a platform. That’s expected behavior. The service is now tainted with the labels of terrorism, violence, etc. I’m sure it’s not all like that, but it doesn’t matter. 90% of Parler could have been a bunch of LGBT Mormon Pacifist Boyscouts, but if the other 10% were a serious problem, and the moderators weren’t controlling it, that’s plenty of reason for a host to say, “No thanks.”
And by the way, you know Pirate Bay still exists, right?
They got banned a million times by a million hosts, and they still found a way. Why? Because they weren’t censored by Christianity or the US Government. They simply had a bunch of private companies decide they didn’t like their objectionable content.
That’s what this case is ultimately about. Objectionable content.
Again, go back up to the list of scenarios above. It’s one thing to kick someone off your platform for hosting bad jokes. It’s another to kick them off for being aggressively racist and sexist. And it’s another to kick them off becasue you can’t control the forums becoming a hotbed for insurrection against the government of the United States.
That’s radioactive shit. Like underage porn, or ISIS planning forums. We should not be surprised that once AWS dropped it, many other companies followed their lead.
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That’s not evidence that the universe conspired against Parler. It’s evidence that the universe continues to work like normal, and that their content is simply considered objectionable.
Insurrection, terrorism, racism, anti-Semitism, pornography, drugs, weapons, etc.—these are all categories of content that will get you kicked off of a platform if you fail to moderate them.
So stop complaining that the left-wing media crushed your free speech. They didn’t, just as they didn’t crush Pirate Bay’s free speech. Or some hosting site for questionable porn.
You’re free to be a libertarian, or to be part of the IDW, or to be anti-leftist. You know there are thousands of creators all over the internet doing that, right? Millions of people, blogging, sharing video, hosting their own shows on YouTube, on television, or on talk radio. There is tons of conservative media out there. Tons.
Parler wasn’t taken offline for having conservative viewpoints. If that were the case, it would apply to millions of other outlets as well.
They were taken offline for hosting the domestic terrorism version of ISIS 8Chan. Maybe it only became that recently, but that’s not a defense. The content was more than enough reason for AWS to boot them, and it makes complete sense that others followed.
When the whole internet cancels Ben Shapiro and Tucker Carlson because they have right-leaning views then I’ll be fighting with you. But that’s not what happened. They’re still doing fine because they’re not encouraging attacks on our democracy.
This is not a mystery. Don’t make it one.