Google banned Twitter alternative Parler from its App Store on Friday, Jan. 8, claiming the move is to “protect user safety.” The tech giant says Google Play policy requires apps that display user-generated content to “have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence,” according to José Castañeda, Google Public Policy Communications.
The statement went on to say that Google Play apps are required to “implement robust moderation” for “egregious content,” while citing the Jan. 6 break-in at the U.S. Capitol building as an “ongoing and urgent public safety threat.”
Parler will be suspended from Google Play “until it addresses these issues.”
Earlier in the day, Apple sent Parler an email saying: “Our investigation has found that Parler is not effectively moderating and removing content that encourages illegal activity and poses a serious risk to the health and safety” of users after organized complaints against the platform in alleging Parler was used to organize the riot on the steps of the Capitol.
One of the complaints was from a Twitter account with the handle “Sleeping Giants,” a self-described “campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable.” A pinned post on the account has been openly asking for reports on “election-related” violence to the group since Nov. 2. The other four accounts cited in Apple’s email appear to be pseudonymous.
Policing other apps
Apple claims that “Parler is in fact responsible for all the user generated content present on your service and for ensuring that this content meets App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users,” saying it won’t distribute apps that promote “dangerous and harmful content.”
In an apparent bid to dictate how another company runs its business and manages free speech, Parler has been required by Apple to produce a “requested moderation improvement plan” within 24 hours unless the Twitter alternative wishes to be removed from the App Store.
Parler CEO John Matze replied to the threats, saying: “Apparently they believe Parler is responsible for ALL user generated content on Parler. Therefor [sic] by the same logic, Apple must be responsible for ALL actions taken by their phones. Every car bomb, every illegal cell phone conversation, every illegal crime committed on an iPhone, Apple must also be responsible for.”
“Standards not applied to Twitter, Facebook or even Apple themselves, apply to Parler,” he said.
Matze further described the fallacious nature of the allegation his company is responsible for the Jan. 6 violence: “1) Parler has no way to organize anything, Facebook groups was used heavily to organize the protests. 2) Protests are constitutionally protected. 3) Bad actors turned the protest into a riot.”
And Matze is likely correct in his calculation that agents provocateurs were at the root of the rioting and vandalism of the nation’s Capitol after it was alleged on social media that people connected to the 4Chan conspiracy theory movement QAnon, as well as Marxist-anarchist groups Antifa and Black Lives Matter, were at the front lines of the riots, inciting vandalism and violence.
Capitol Police were also shown in several videos opening doors, removing barricades, and otherwise allowing the rioters to enter the building.
While explanations have not been provided, the Associated Press revealed that D.C. law enforcement rejected an offer from the Pentagon to deploy the National Guard three days in advance of the scheduled Jan. 6 lawful protest and an offer from the FBI to deploy agents as the rioting escalated.
Big tech muzzles President Trump
On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg banned President Donald Trump from both Facebook and Instagram. In a lengthy monologue, Zuckerberg claims: “[Trump’s] decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world.”
However, Zuckerberg’s statement seems to deviate from reality. In an increasingly hard-to-find video by Trump on the day of the Electoral College count, the outgoing president asked both his supporters and the rioters to be peaceful:
“We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it. Especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order and we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened.”
Also on Jan. 8, Twitter banned Trump from their platform claiming “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
However, the two Jan. 8 posts by Trump that Twitter cites as justification are far from incitement of violence, as can be seen below:
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter makes multiple dubious and speculative claims in their “assessment” under their “Glorification of Violence” policy.
They claim that Trump’s second tweet serves “as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending,” and that “the use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol,” among others.
Twitter also suspended Sidney Powel and Michael Flynn’s accounts without notice claiming in a statement published by Reuters their move was related to QAnon: “We will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.”
Twitter is ‘not about free speech’
Trump responded to Twitter’s ban on Friday in a statement saying: “Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH. They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely.”
“Twitter may be a private company, but without the government’s gift of Section 230 they would not exist for long,” the President said.
Canadian independent news outlet Rebel Media’s founder Ezra Levant, a former columnist for nationally-syndicated Postmedia from 2010 to 2015, spoke out against the already accelerating Chinese Communist Party-style censorship by several of the world’s largest and most influential companies: “You can’t see what Trump actually said now. You have to take Zuckerberg’s word for it, his interpretation of it because he doesn’t actually quote Trump, does he?
“These are your new rulers, by the way. It’s not Joe Biden, it’s these guys. If they can rule Trump, they can rule you too.”
He continued: “You know, you can still see what Nicolas Maduro, the tyrant of Venezuela, has to say on Twitter. Same thing with the Ayatollahs of Iran, or China’s countless government propagandists on Twitter,” while pointing out that despite Twitter access being restricted to citizens of those countries, their dictators are still allowed to speak on the platform without encumbrance.
Levant said he received a letter from YouTube today asserting that his entire channel may be deleted if he makes claims of widespread election fraud during the Nov. 3 presidential election.