(Article republished from Revolver.news)
For years, censorship has gradually increased on the most important tech platforms. Facebook is throttling “fake news,” Twitter is banning personalities on flimsier and flimsier pretexts, and Google was deciding which websites can have ads and which ones cannot. Now, even the President himself has been silenced, cut off from Twitter, Facebook, and even his own email list:
The fix, countless “small-government” conservatives said, is simple: Just build your own alternative companies.
No person is more dogmatically committed to this position than Dispatch editor David French, Bill Kristol’s choice to mount a NeverTrump presidential bid. For French, it is impossible for private-sector censorship to ever be bad, and the solution is simply to go out and found one’s own companies:
“Just construct your own online communities,” French says.
Parler, tragically, was foolish enough to take him at his word.
The website launched with a noble purpose: Rather than wait for Twitter to squelch every form of dissent from the platform, genuine backers of free speech should simply create their own, less-censored platform. People who actually want to read what people think could join Parler, while bland idiots who enjoy echo chambers could stick with Twitter. The free market in action!
But the free market was a sham. As soon as Parler began gaining in popularity, the knives came out for it. Well before Wednesday’s incident at the Capitol, it was clear that powerful forces had marked the company for destruction. First came hostile news articles to set the stage:
Since the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Parler has caught on among right-wing politicians and “influencers” – people with large online followings – as a social media platform where they can share and promote ideas without worrying about the company blocking or flagging their posts for being dangerous or misleading. However, the website has become a haven for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists who are now interacting with the mainstream conservatives flocking to the platform.
As the three highest-profile social media companies – YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – continue to take action to mitigate the spread of extremism and disinformation, Parler has welcomed the ensuing exodus of right-wing users. [PBS]
After the Capitol riot, which Parler’s owners played no role in, the site’s enemies moved immediately to annihilate it. First Google kicked it off its app store, and then Apple followed. On Saturday night, Amazon announced it will kick Parler off Amazon Web Services, meaning the website will be down entirely until it finds a new webhost. The next step is easy to predict: Whatever company decides to work with Parler will itself become a target, so companies will refuse their business. That’s already happening:
The CEO of the conservative-friendly social app Parler said that all of its vendors have abandoned the company following recent bans from Google, Apple, and Amazon.
“Every vendor, from text message services to email providers to our lawyers, all ditched us too, on the same day,” Parler CEO John Matze said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
In a post on Saturday night, Matze said that the service “will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch” and that “we have many competing for our business.”
But in Sunday’s interview, Matze said that it was having difficulties finding a new vendor to work with. [The Verge]
As a parting shot, one of Parler’s former business partners exposed it to a massive hacking operation.
Parler, a social network used to plan the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week, has been hit by a massive data scrape. Security researchers collected swaths of user data before the network went dark Monday morning after Amazon, Google, and Apple booted the platform.
Reddit users claim that the scrape was made possible due Twilio, an American cloud communications platform that provided the platform with phone number verification services, cutting ties with Parler.
In a press release announcing the decision, Twilio revealed which services Parler was using. This information allowed hackers to deduct that it was possible to create users and verified accounts without actual verification.
With this type of access, newly minted users were able to get behind the login box API used for content delivery. That allowed them to see which users had moderator rights and this in turn allowed them to reset passwords of existing users with simple “forgot password” function. Since Twilio no longer authenticated emails, hackers were able to access admin accounts with ease. [Cybernews]
Twilio’s politically-motivated attack on Parler exposed millions of users to a malicious invasion of privacy. It should expose them to a massive lawsuit; it may even be criminal. But don’t expect that offense to be a priority for the legal system.
Parler tried to “build its own,” and the most powerful forces in American life colluded to destroy it, just as they will destroy any who try to imitate it. In fact, this has already happened in other cases. BitChute, a less-moderated alternative to YouTube, was kicked off PayPal and soft-blocked on Twitter for the offense of not banning enough people.
“Build your own company” is a lie, a trope repeated by those too clueless to realize that the tech-government alliance will never allow serious competition to flourish. “Build your own company” now also requires that you “build your own web hosting platform,” “build your own payments processor,” and “build your own financial system.”
Want to flee to a state that isn’t under the left’s control? Even that won’t work now. “Build your own state” is insufficient. The American oligarchy has already had test runs of forcing whole U.S. states to comply with its decrees. When North Carolina tried to prevent sexual perverts from using opposite-sex restrooms in 2017, the state was targeted by massive boycotts until the legislature meekly rescinded the law:
North Carolina on Thursday repealed a law restricting bathroom use for transgender people, hoping to bring back businesses and sports leagues that boycotted the Southern state because they saw the year-old measure as discriminatory.
The new measure rescinds House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill also popularly known as HB 2, which required transgender people to use the bathrooms, changing rooms and showers in state-run buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
HB 2’s enactment a year ago prompted boycotts that cost the state economy hundreds of millions of dollars. Deutsche Bank AG and PayPal Holdings Inc reversed expansion plans in the state. Entertainers such as Bruce Springsteen and Itzhak Perlman canceled concerts.
In basketball-crazed North Carolina, the withdrawal of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament games and the National Basketball Association All-Star game, which had been awarded to Charlotte, reverberated throughout the state. [Reuters]
In early 2020, threats of similar boycotts were used to keep South Dakota from banning sex-change treatments for children in the service of “transgender” extremism.
The real challenge for conservatives, then, is clear. The crisis of freedom in America is not a simple matter of passing local laws, or building a parallel network of websites, banks, domain registrars, and more. The bottleneck on freedom is not a few socialists, or a few rich companies. It’s the American state itself, which treats any ideologically independent body of sufficient size with the same ruthlessness as a rogue state that won’t accept child transgenderism and abortion in exchange for “foreign aid.”
Such a system cannot be stopped by founding a new company that will just be squished like a bug. It can only be stopped by tearing it down completely, and building a new power structure with totally different values. And that can only be done by building a political movement that understands the stakes and plays to win.