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Parler shows the way forward by circumventing big tech

The social media platform that offers itself as an alternative to the dominant oligopoly has managed to restore itself a month after AWS cut it off.

Parler positions itself as a free-speech alternative to selectively-policed Twitter. It was scapegoated in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riot due to allegations that the whole thing was coordinated there. As a consequence Google and Apple kicked it off their app stores and AWS, on which the entire platform was hosted, terminated the service unilaterally and permanently.

It’s very hard to imagine AWS, or any other major cloud company, treating Twitter or Facebook in that way. Even if one of them was found to have broken one of the Byzantine and constantly changing terms of service, they would presumably be offered infinite opportunities to rectify the situation. Facebook, not Parler, was by far the most cited social media site in the official US investigation into the causes of the riot, but we’re not aware of any resulting sanctions from its fellow tech giants.

Clearly the only way Parler can now hope to exist is by making itself totally independent of this oligopoly and that’s what it seems to have done. We haven’t received any formal public announcements, but many media have reported on a Parler statement referring to it now being built on ‘sustainable, independent technology’. Surprisingly that turns out to be another US cloud provider – SkySilk – which has bravely risked pariah status by hosting Parler. Here’s its statement on the matter.

Every report we’ve seen on this topic has felt compelled to characterise Parler as a ‘right wing’ platform as if that, in itself, is reason enough for it to be punished and marginalized by the tech establishment. The tech press seems largely hostile to Parler, citing vague concepts like ‘advocating hate’ that can just as easily be applied to all other public internet platforms. Some media will presumably trawl the platform for further speechcrimes now that it’s back up, but so long as SkySilk stands by it there’s nothing they can do.

The persecution of Parler by the tech establishment and its subsequent ability to carry on regardless could mark an inflection point in the relationship between the internet and its users. If Parler becomes a cause celebre among the political right and those opposed to censorship then there could be a lot of opportunities for alternative service providers who treat their smaller customers better than the giants currently do.

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10 comments

  1. Avatar user127 16/02/2021 @ 12:11 pm

    Scapegoated? Really?
    Why don’t you list some facts about what Parler’s user base represent and why it was built in the first place?

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 16/02/2021 @ 12:13 pm

      Why don’t you?

      • Avatar Marco Ermini 16/02/2021 @ 3:03 pm

        I am afraid, this doesn’t sound like a pacated, professional answer.

        • Avatar JakeVeee 16/02/2021 @ 5:11 pm

          Its amazing to see how many of your goons who dont understand freedom of ANYTHING expect other people to enforce your totalitarian views.

          Grow up.

          My cell carrier cant cut me off for saying whatever I want, nor should twitter be able to. All of you trash mofo’s support BLM terrorist then talk about ‘orange man bad’ supporters are terrorist. You people have no ethics, morals or leg to stand on.

          You’re nothing more than the terrorist you pretend to hate.

          That’s right, you’re a TERRORIST for attacking other peoples civil liberties.

          P.S. My cell carrier is a ‘private company’ just like twitter.

  2. Avatar Klaus Landefeld 16/02/2021 @ 4:15 pm

    Scott,

    I fail to see where you are headed with above article, considering the circumstances. The underlying concept of “no moderation whatsoever” will never fly in an online platform – there are just to many parties abusing the privilege.

    Even in the US – and your concept of “free speech” by far exceed what we are used to in Europe i.e. in the field of hate speech – there are limits to what you can say in public. I suggest to take a look at i.e.

    for a (non comprehensive) list, but assume you are well aware of these limitations already.

    As long as a public platforms insist on anonymity, they require a bare minimum of moderation and take down of a variety of abusive or even illegal content – there is just no way around it, as I can attest to being one of the operators of the German hotline
    for reporting on abusive and illegal content. As it stands, I am not aware of any jurisdiction throughout the world where certain types of content are not prohibited.

    Your mileage may vary, but in today’s world even the concept of a platform without any moderation – as proclaimed by the “old” parler – will always fail as soon as it gains popularity. It is only a question of “when” certain types of illegal content will force you offline, not “if” – as long as you insist on a fully unmoderated concept you will run into trouble rather sooner than later.

    Even in most parts of Europe – and we are generally not considered restrictive with regards to free speech – the content posted would have constituted a criminal liability of the operator long before the shutdown in the US occurred.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 16/02/2021 @ 4:20 pm

      Lots of straw men there mate, it’s like you’re commenting on a different piece. Where did I say there should be no moderation?

      • Avatar Klaus Landefeld 16/02/2021 @ 6:18 pm

        Scott,

        that was exactly my sentiment reading the article earlier today – you are presenting a cause which as far as I am aware and as far as it presented itself – at least on the international scene – were not the reason for the shutdown at all.

        Parlor had simply become impossible to carry an was becoming a legal liability. My contacts in Google and Apple corroborate
        that the events of January 6th were merely the last straw, not the first steps in pulling the app.

        I would also like to point out that Google was pulling Parler from the Play Store contending that its lack of “moderation policies and enforcement” posed a “public safety threat” and that Apple requested Parler to submit a “moderation improvement plan” within 24 hours (Which I view as unreasonable, but that’s beside the point) or “face removal from the app store” – again, a question of moderation, which was flat out refused by Parlor (“We will no be pressured in changing our moderation policies”).

        AWS alleged that “Parler’s failure to police violent content made the site ‘a very real risk to public safety” before dropping it’s service – touting the same horn. Personally, I wonder when asking to kill, hang or rape people has become acceptable content in a publicly accessible platform? However, even these were not removed by the so called “social” network.

        Considering that this was all – at least allegedly – about content and moderation, I fail to see how you arrive at “Parler was persecuted by the tech establishment” without even mentioning or further elaborating on the non-existent content moderation?

        In this context, I already stated that Parler would have been closed down in Europe month earlier considering the violent content
        – which would have been filtered automatically by larger social networks in order to uphold the more stringent moderation laws predominant in other countries.

        When you are a small platform – like Parler – you might get away with relaxed rules for a while, but while you grow you will have to adhere to the legally required standards to stay operational.

        In your article, you are insinuating there were other reasons for the shutdown and even tag it “censorship” – but you do not weight or even consider the (very valid) arguments given by the “establishment” you single out, going so far as to conclude these were
        treating their their smaller customers badly.

        I will let the readers decide if asking your customers to uphold the law and shutting a public safety threat of the internet should be considered as “treating you customers badly” or rater as “helping to ensure the safety of the majority of users on the internet”.

        • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 16/02/2021 @ 6:23 pm

          Thanks.

          • Avatar B Maharaj 16/02/2021 @ 7:51 pm

            Good Work . I support your courage and conviction. We have to fight for the right to be free from evil doers. Thanks

        • Avatar Peter G. 18/02/2021 @ 4:11 am

          Yet, again, as expected, the term ‘Free Speech’s is lost on a European. You don’t get it and you won’t get it and that’s ok, we expect nothing less in America because you all have never known it any other way than the way it is today. What you know today is just a varying flavor of what you’ve known in the past. In America, we fight for and defend our free speech because we’ve had it at our inception, full stop.

          As for why parler was removed from those stores, well, you can delude yourself into believing it was for the reasons stated, but what you fail to understand is that it wasn’t a lack of ‘moderation’ as a whole, it was a lack of ‘moderation… (of speech we don’t like or support)’. You see, it’s the wink and a nod approach. The say moderation while winking at you.

          My wife is from Eastern Europe and since we moved from over there to the USA 5 years ago, her eyes have been opened to the truth, whereas in Europe in general, your view of the USA is a skewed and distorted one by whatever “truth” the media machines allow to pass your direction.

          Angela Merkel was working directly with Facebook to get anything about the migrant plague in Europe removed from the platform because it wasn’t politically advantageous for her or anybody in the parliament, but I digress.

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