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Home / Business / How Trump’s fan-picked app Parler became a test of freedom of speech

How Trump’s fan-picked app Parler became a test of freedom of speech

From the beginning, John Matze has positioned Parler as a “free speech” social network, where people can say almost anything they want. With millions of President Trump’s supporters fed up with what they thought was censorship on Facebook and Twitter, and then flocked to Parler, it was a winning bet.

On the app, discussions about politics have surged.But there are conspiracy theories that falsely claim that the election has been stolen from Mr. Trump, and users urged the radical demonstrations last week when Congress held a meeting to prove the election of President-elect Biden

These violent appeals quickly came back and bothered the 27-year-old Mr. Matze, a software engineer from Las Vegas and the CEO of Parler. By Saturday night, Apple and Google had removed Parler from their app stores. Amazon said it would no longer host the site on its computer service and said it did not have enough regulatory posts to incite violence and crime. As a result, Parler was scheduled to disappear from the Internet on Monday.

This triggered a frantic effort to keep Parler online. Mr. Matze said on Sunday that he is trying to save the data of approximately 15 million Parler users from Amazon’s computers. He also called a company to find a company willing to provide Parler with hundreds of computer servers.

Mr. Matze said in Parler on Saturday night: “I believe Amazon, Google, and Apple work together to ensure that they are not competing.” “They will not win! We are the world’s last hope for freedom of speech and freedom of information.” He said, The app may be “closed for up to a week while we are rebuilding from scratch.”

Paller’s plight immediately drew condemnation from rightists, who compared large technology companies with authoritarian overlords. California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes told Fox News on Sunday that “Republicans cannot communicate” and asked his followers to text him to keep in touch. Right-wing commentator Lou Dobbs wrote on Parler that in such “dangerous times”, the app filed a strong antitrust lawsuit against technology companies.

Parler has now become a test case for a new national debate about freedom of speech on the Internet and whether tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon have too much power. The debate has intensified since Trump was banned from posting on Twitter and Facebook after Trump was banned from posting on Twitter and Facebook last week after Trump was urged by the president and his social media posts to sweep the Capitol.

For years, Facebook and Twitter have been defending people’s ability to speak freely on their sites, while Amazon, Apple, Google and other companies have largely been independent of apps like Parler. This allows misinformation and false information to circulate in online networks.

Since then, the actions taken by technology companies to limit Trump and Mr. Paller’s levels of such toxic substances have been praised by liberals and others. But this move also raises questions about how private companies decide who to stay online and who will not stay online, especially when it is politically convenient. Biden will take office on January 20, while Democrats will Gained control of Congress.

The recent proactive approach taken by technology companies has also provided impetus to Mr. Trump’s decline during his tenure. Even if Trump faces another potential impeachment, he is still expected to try to provoke anger on Twitter, Facebook and others this week, which may be the starting platform for him to compete with Silicon Valley when he leaves the White House. After he was banned from Twitter, Mr. Trump said in a statement that he would “consider the possibility of establishing our own platform in the near future.”

Ben Wizner, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said it is understandable that no company wants to be associated with encouraging “objectionable speech” that violates the Capitol. But he said Paller’s situation was disturbing.

He said that was because Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores, and Amazon stopped its virtual hosting, which went beyond Twitter or Facebook’s role in restricting user accounts or posts. He said: “I think when talking about Internet infrastructure, we should recognize the importance of neutrality.”

Apple, Amazon and Google stated in earlier statements that they have warned of violent posts on Parler’s website and that it has not taken sufficient action to consistently delete these posts. The two companies said they need sites like Parler to systematically enforce their rules. They declined to comment further on Sunday.

The technology companies that support certain websites are not new. In 2018, Gab was another option for Facebook and Twitter, the most popular among right-wingers. It was forced to go offline due to the loss of support from other companies including PayPal and GoDaddy because it hosted a shot dead. Men’s anti-Semitic positions. Eleven people in the Pittsburgh Synagogue. Later, Gab went back online with the help of Epik, a Seattle company that hosted the other rightmost websites.

Even if Parler becomes lethargic, right-wing figures like Mr. Nunes have built a following on the app and have no other communication channels. On Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, many people still have enough followers who welcome any users who do not violate the rules, including threats of violence or hate speech.

Parler was founded in 2018 by Mr. Matze and a senior programmer, one of several social media upstarts, designed to capitalize on the growing anger of Mr. Trump’s supporters against Silicon Valley. But Parler has a significant advantage: money. Rebekah Mercer, one of Mr. Trump’s biggest donors, helped the site raise funds. Other investors include former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino (Dan Bongino) and Fox News critic. It plans to eventually make money by selling ads.

The app is essentially a Twitter clone. It allows people to broadcast messages to followers, so-called “parleys” instead of “tweets”. Users can also comment and “echo” (rather than “repost”) other users’ posts. When registering a new account, people are asked to choose their favorite colors and are urged to follow a list of conservative voices, including Mr. Nunes, Fox News host Sean Hannity and actress Kirstie Alley.

These “influencers” dominate the live experience. On Sunday, Parler’s news source provoked their angry “parleys” at the Big Tech railing, begging their followers to follow them elsewhere.

Mr. Bongino wrote: “Please subscribe to my daily newsletter today before the technological totalitarians ban everything.” Mr. Bongino also controls one of Facebook’s most popular pages.

Parler grew slowly until early 2020, when Twitter began to label Mr. Trump’s tweets, which was inaccurate, and some of his supporters also joined Parler in protest. After the November election, Parler grew even faster as Facebook and Twitter suppressed false claims that they had rigged votes. After so many users register, they sometimes overload the company’s system and force them to suspend new registrations.

According to data from the application data company Sensor Tower, people downloaded the Parler app more than 10 million times last year, 80% of which were in the United States.

Last Wednesday, Mr. Trump encouraged his supporters to go to the Capitol and put pressure on lawmakers to overthrow his election failure, which triggered a riot and killed five people. The rally was originally planned to be held on Facebook, Twitter and other places. In Parler, people posted advice on which street to walk to avoid the police; some articles about carrying guns in the Capitol.

A few hours after the riots, Matze said in an interview with The New York Times: “I don’t take any responsibility for this, and the platform should not be held responsible, because we are a neutral city square and only obey the law. . “

But on Friday, Apple and Google told Paller that it needed to more consistently delete posts that encouraged violence. By Saturday, Apple and Google had removed Parler from their app stores, thus limiting its ability to attract new users on almost all smartphones in the world.

Apple said in a statement: “There are no threats of violence or illegal activities on our platform.” Google said: “We do require apps to implement strong audits of strong content.”

Late Saturday, Amazon told Parler that it would need to find a new location to host its website. Amazon said it has sent 98 examples of posts encouraging violence to Parler on its website, but many posts are still active.

Amazon stated: “We cannot provide services to customers who cannot effectively identify and delete encouragement or incitement of violence against others.”

Amazon was originally scheduled to withdraw support for Parler before midnight on the West Coast on Sunday. Amazon said it will keep Parler’s data so that it can be moved to other computer servers.

Mr. Matze told Fox News on Sunday: “This is devastating.” “It’s not just these three companies. From SMS to email providers to our lawyers, every vendor abandoned us on the same day.” He said that he is trying to find another company hosting Parler’s website.

But Parler’s chief operating officer Jeffrey Wernick said in an interview that the app has received information from several companies that want to help. He refused to reveal their names.

He said: “One month from now, what will Parler look like,” “But Parler will not disappear.”

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