By Quentin Choy
April 19, 2021
Parler, a social media app often used by conservatives will return to the App Store after it was pulled in January. Apple removed the app saying that it incited violence in the January 6 Capitol insurrection, since users communicated on the app prior to the siege.
Apple claimed that Parler did not moderate its content enough, saying that some posts “encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races and religions, glorified Nazism, and called for violence.”
While these ideas are atrocious, social media companies and tech giants should not be the ones regulating the speech of its users. Social media ought to return to its origins in letting people freely express thoughts and opinions, no matter how odious. This is an issue of free speech, and while the government itself is not prohibiting and banning certain speech, the social media companies doing so is unacceptable as well.
Even if Parler was utilized in coordinating attacks on the Capitol, who’s to say that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google weren’t used to the same degree if not more? Photos were posted to Facebook, Instagram, and people tweeted their support for the insurrection, including then-President Trump.
Following Trump’s tweets, Twitter banned Donald Trump from the app. Why is it that with Parler, instead of banning a user like they did with Trump, the entire app was shut down instead? Should Facebook have been banned for the users who posted their support for the insurrection and #StopTheSteal?
I don’t agree with banning users with dumb, but not threatening opinions, nor do I support the removal of social media apps as a whole. If I were to log onto Parler for just a few minutes, I’d probably lose a few brain cells reading the ridiculous content on there. However, just because I disagree with the opinions of its users, I don’t think those users should be banned or the app removed.
The social media giants displayed a double-standard in banning Parler for its content in relation to the Capitol insurrection while allowing itself to be off the hook. Less regulation is good for speech, and only when direct threats of violence are made should “post moderation” and “speech regulation” be applied. Let people say what they want, and let those who disagree respond. The banning of Parler and of Donald Trump from Twitter only fuels the culture war fixation on “cancel culture,” and makes elites and those nominally on the left look censorious and authoritarian.
Image Courtesy of The Verge