This week, in what appears to be a pre-calculated attack by the Silicon Valley tech giants, free-speech social media platform Parler was banned by the Apple store, taken off Google’s app store, and ultimately kicked off their Amazon hosting services. The moves, which were done (ostensibly) in response to the Capitol attack last Wednesday, seem perfectly timed and executed to cut a potential competitor in the tech space down to size before it’s too late. Certainly, that’s how it looked through the eyes of Parler’s CEO, John Matze.
“This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the market place,” he wrote. “We were too successful too fast.”
In reporting on the story, Buzzfeed News showed their usual commitment to truth and neutrality: “People on Parler used the social network to stoke fear, spread hate, and coordinate the insurrection at the Capitol building on Wednesday. The app has recently been overrun with death threats, celebrations of violence, and posts encouraging ‘Patriots’ to march on Washington, DC with weapons on January 19, the day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.”
Sorry, but is Buzzfeed talking about John Matze? Did he or anyone else on Parler’s management team post that type of content? If not, then…aren’t we talking about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives social media sites blanket immunity from the content that appears on their platforms? Isn’t this what Facebook, Twitter, and Google have been screaming about for the last couple of years? How is it that, all of a sudden, a social media site IS responsible for the content posted by users?
There is hypocrisy, and there’s this. And lawmakers looking to hold these tech companies responsible for their censorship should use this as their ultimate example from here on out. This was not just hypocritical. This was not just an affront to free speech. This was a rank exercise of unchallenged corporate power in service of both an ideology and a demand for total and complete dominance of the marketplace. These sites have gotten too big, and their coordinated effort to shut down competition is a violation of our anti-trust laws.
Conservatism means supporting the free exchange of ideas, and it means defending unpopular speech, even when we disagree with it. It also ought to mean defending capitalism and the free market. But there’s a big difference between healthy capitalism and an unchecked monopoly, which is what we’re looking at in the tech sector. That they’re using this monopoly to marginalize important voices and censor their political enemies is just that much more heinous.