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Tech companies crack down on Trump, supporters

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 1/11/21, 07:32 am

After Twitter banned President Donald Trump for life on Friday, many of his supporters left the platform for the conservative-friendly social media site Parler. Google suspended Parler from its app store on Friday, and Apple threatened to do the same if the platform did not police posts that might incite violence. Amazon cut the site off from its web hosting service at midnight on Sunday. Parler CEO John Matze said in a post that the company “won’t cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech.”

Is all of this legal? Tech companies do not have the same constitutional duty to protect free speech as the government, though lawsuits in the future likely will test the limits of the companies’ freedom. States and the federal government have sued Google and Facebook for building internet monopolies. Throughout his presidency, Trump unsuccessfully pushed to change the law so courts could hold Big Tech liable for the content it does or does not allow.

Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Liberties about congressional efforts to regulate Big Tech.

Editor's note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital's managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kansas. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Hawkdriver
    Posted: Sun, 01/10/2021 08:59 pm


    Posted: Mon, 01/11/2021 08:18 am

    I'm not a fan of the censorship, although I think that social media companies have a responsibility to remove threats of violence.

    But I'm curious how people think repealing Section 230 would fix this.

    If someone threatens me on a particular site right now, I can flag the comment and sue the individual who made it.

    Without Section 230, I could sue both the site and the individual; thus the site would have a vested interest in prohibiting controversial comments to avoid liability.

    It's hard to imagine Parler ever existing without Section 230.

  • EG
    Posted: Mon, 01/11/2021 08:33 am

    That was exactly my thought when this happened.  Without Section 230 then tech companies would do this MORE often in order to play it safe to avoid lawsuits, thus increasing "censorship" instead of decreasing.

    Posted: Mon, 01/11/2021 10:26 am

    I am nearly 100% in disagreement with President Trump right now. I believe his demagoguery was a key reason for the capitol assault. But at the same time, the speed at which the tech companies shut his accounts and sympathetic networks makes me wonder what happens when they decide that World's position on sexual ethics is discriminatory, or that a Bible-teaching church's sermons don't need to be available. 

    I don't know the answer ... as a private company, Amazon has every right to not offer hosting. I just don't know if I like the implications for the future.

  • GJ
    Posted: Tue, 01/12/2021 11:55 am

    Chilling...might makes right, sadly