Last week Cory Doctorow shared his own answer for what Apple and Google should’ve done about Parler:
They should remove it, and tell users, “We removed Parler because we think it is a politically odious attempt to foment violence. Our judgment is subjective and may be wielded against others in future. If you don’t like our judgment, you shouldn’t use our app store.”
I’m 100% OK with that: first, because it is honest; and second, because it invites the question, “How do we switch app stores?”
Doctorow warns that “vital sectors of the digital economy became as concentrated as they are due to four decades of shameful, bipartisan neglect of antitrust law.”
And now Slashdot reader esm88 notes that “The EFF has made a statement raising concerns over tech giants control over the internet and who gets to decide which speech is allowed.”
Whatever you think of Parler, these decisions should give you pause. Private companies have strong legal rights under U.S. law to refuse to host or support speech they don’t like. But that refusal carries different risks when a group of companies comes together to ensure that forums for speech or speakers are effectively taken offline altogether… Amazon’s decision highlights core questions of our time: Who should decide what is acceptable speech, and to what degree should companies at the infrastructure layer play a role in censorship? At EFF, we think the answer is both simple and challenging: wherever possible, users should decide for themselves, and companies at the infrastructure layer should stay well out of it….
The core problem remains: regardless of whether we agree with an individual decision, these decisions overall have not and will not be made democratically and in line with the requirements of transparency and due process. Instead they are made by a handful of individuals, in a handful of companies, the most distanced and least visible to the most Internet users. Whether you agree with those decisions or not, you will not be a part of them, nor be privy to their considerations. And unless we dismantle the increasingly centralized chokepoints in our global digital infrastructure, we can anticipate an escalating political battle between political factions and nation states to seize control of their powers.
On Friday Bill Ottman, founder and CEO of the right-leaning blockchain-based social network Minds (which includes a Slashdot discussion area), posted that in order to remain in the Google Play store, “We had to remove search, discovery, and comments…”
We aren’t happy and will be working towards something better. What is fascinating is how Signal and Telegram are navigating this and in my opinion they are still there because they are encrypted messengers without much “public” content. Obviously controversial speech is happening there too…
We will be releasing a full report on our plan for fully censorship-resistant infrastructure.
Ottman also advises users downloading apps from Apple’s store to “leave if you’re smart.”