The movement to kill Parler has begun

So last night I finally signed up for Parler. (I’m @jazzshaw, just like on Twitter in case you’re interested.) As it turns out, strictly by happenstance, I might have been one of the last people to be able to join the service for a while. John warned us on Friday that there were forces preparing to move against Parler and attempt to shut them down under the flimsiest of pretenses. Barely 24 hours later, the purge was in motion. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Apple and Google have already removed the app from their stores and Amazon has suspended Parler’s cloud computing services. (Subscription required)

Apple Inc. and Inc. halted support for Parler, dealing a major blow to a social-media service that has soared in popularity among conservatives and escalating a campaign by tech giants to regulate content they see as dangerous in the wake of the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Amazon said Saturday it would no longer provide cloud-computing services to Parler, and Apple suspended the company’s app from the App Store. Both companies said Parler hasn’t demonstrated in recent conversations that it can adequately address threats of violence on the platform.

“We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity,” Apple said in a statement. “Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety.”

That wasn’t all of the bad news for Parler, as pointed out on Twitter by Steve Cortes.

How I snuck in under the wire may have been just a simple twist of fate, to steal a line from Bob Dylan. I had actually downloaded the app to my phone and my laptop several weeks earlier. But as I was starting the registration process, a pal on social media brought up some concerns over Parler’s privacy and data sharing policies. I decided to hold off and so some additional research first. Then, on Friday, when all of the drama was blowing up, I figured I’d go ahead and complete the registration process. No dice. So many people were rushing to sign up that the servers were swamped and my attempts to register timed out and failed.

Last night the action appeared to have died down, probably because nobody was able to download the app anymore. I was able to complete the registration on the first try and established my account. As far as their hosting service goes, as I was writing this article on Sunday morning, Parler was still up and running and new content was being posted by existing users. I can’t find any solid confirmation as to whether that’s because they’re already on a new provider or they haven’t actually had the plug pulled on them yet.

As for the Big Tech conspiracy to knock Parler off the web, the reality of what’s going on here is almost too obvious to point out. They are claiming that people are using Parler to “plot” another attack on D.C. or whatever. That may in fact be true, but we all know that the same sorts of things go on in Facebook groups and on Twitter all of the time. It’s just that nobody finds out about it until after the fact, particularly when it’s a group of people who only have a few dozen followers (mostly each other) and nobody notices. Twitter doesn’t have an algorithm capable of detecting every person of bad intent and Parler won’t be able to do it either.

The major players coming after Parler right now already know this, but it doesn’t matter. It’s the same as how Twitter handles its own users. They are keenly interested in suppressing “dangerous speech” if it involved tweets from conservatives. But if you’re part of the favored liberal tribe, all is forgiven. Since Parler is now being viewed as a “conservative” or “pro-Trump” platform, the liberal overlords of the tech giants had to figure out a different way to shut them down. So they teamed up to try to make it impossible to access and download the app, while moving to block all of the supporting services required to operate it.

So why not go elsewhere for those services? That’s what all of the liberal scolds are saying this morning. But Melissa Chen has already pointed out the dishonesty in such statements when you consider what it takes to get an operation like Parler up and running.

A handful of tech giants have now reached the point where they dominate the market so thoroughly that they can essentially “regulate” speech and thought on a massive scale while being accountable to no one. If you start posting content they don’t like on their platforms, they will simply ban you. If you try to build a new platform where free speech is allowed, they can move to shut down your efforts by cutting you off from the infrastructure of the internet.

I’ll end with one prediction. Even if it’s not already taking place, liberal activists will be pressuring banks to attempt to stop them from doing any business with conservative-branded startups like Parler. It’s the same thing they did to the NRA with a frightening amount of success. Transferring that portion of the cancel culture offensive to the tech sector will almost be an afterthought for them.