from the that-did-not-take-long-at-all dept

Well, that did not take long at all. On Friday we predicted that just like every other social media platform out there, the new favorite among people who falsely say that Twitter is censoring conservatives, would start taking down content and shutting down accounts just like everyone else. Because, if you run any sort of platform that allows 3rd party speech, sooner or later you discover you have to do that. In Friday’s post, we highlighted Parler’s terms of service, which certainly allows for it to take down any content for any reason (we also mocked their “quick read on Wikipedia” style understanding of the 1st Amendment).

What we did not expect was that Parler would prove us right so damn quickly. Over the weekend, Parler was apparently busy taking down accounts.

And he was not the only one.

There’s a lot more as well. Parler seems to be banning a bunch of people. And it has the right to do so. Which is great. But what’s not great is the site continues to pretend that it’s some “free speech alternative” to Twitter when it’s facing the same exact content moderation issues. And, yes, some people are claiming that Parler’s quick trigger finger is mostly about shutting down “left” leaning accounts, but as with Twitter’s content moderation, I won’t say that for sure unless I see some actual evidence to support it.

What I will say is that when politicians like Ted Cruz say he’s joining Parler because it doesn’t have “censorship,” he’s wrong. Same with basically every other foolish person screaming about how Parler is about “free speech.” It’s got the same damn content moderation questions every platform has. And it’s pretty silly for Parler’s CEO to refer to Twitter as a “techno-fascist” company for its content moderation policies, when his company appears to be doing basically the same thing. Amusingly, the CEO is also claiming that “If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler. Except that later in that same article, he admits: “You can’t spam people’s comment sections with unrelated content.” Except, you kinda can do that on the “street of New York.” (I recall there being more than one street in New York, but whatever). Anyway, this was always bogus, as you can see from the fact that so many accounts are being banned.

As I’ve said before: I think competition is good. And, personally, I’d prefer there to be many more competitors (though, I wish they were interoperable implementations of a protocol, rather than individual silos, but…). So, I have nothing against Parler existing. In fact, I think it’s an excellent demonstration of why the concerns about “dominance” by Twitter or other platforms is silly. It’s possible to create alternatives, and Parler has shown that it’s able to attract a bunch of users. At least for now.

But what no one should do, is think that Parler is somehow any more “pro-free speech” than Twitter is, or that it doesn’t pull down content and accounts. Because it does.

Filed Under: bans, content moderation, free speech
Companies: parler

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