The Parler Bans Open a New Front in the 'Free Speech' Wars
The app's banning from Amazon, Apple and Google is creating controversy
This was supposed to be Parler’s time to shine.
Launched in 2018, the social media platform billed itself as a free-speech paradise, a haven for conservative users who believe "Big Tech" is out to silence them. Given that posture, Trump getting kicked off Facebook and Twitter last week after inciting a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol was incredible free publicity. What better proof that the fix was in against conservatives than shutting down the president of the United States of America? (Set aside the fact Trump would likely have been banned long ago if he weren’t the president.) Conservative influencers like Dan Bongino encouraged their fans to ditch Twitter and follow them to Parler. (Bongino has an ownership stake in the company.) Even as reports swirled that the platform had played a role in fomenting last week’s assault on the Capitol, Parler surged to become the top free app in Apple’s App Store. One had to wonder: Could it turn into a durable conservative alternative to the dominant platforms? Only time would tell.
Wait, scratch that—Big Tech told, and the answer was, "no." Over the weekend, Apple and Google told Parler they were banning its mobile app from their app stores, and Amazon Web Services said it would stop hosting Parler’s website. The companies pointed to the continued presence of user posts encouraging or inciting violence. As a result, Parler has, for the moment, ceased to exist. Even if it migrates to a new host, it won’t be able to return to the App Store or Google Play unless it abandons its identity as a platform whose content policies are as permissive as the First Amendment.
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