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13 Jan, 27 tweets, 7 min read
Tech companies made the right call to stop hosting Parler after it refused to combat calls to violence. Action was needed, even though it was late and reactionary.

It’s also not that simple. THREAD 🧵
We should take platform shutdowns seriously.

What happened with Parler points to several larger issues that are not completely about Parler. Here are 5 we want to break down 👇
1) It highlights that Big Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon hold too much power over the internet ecosystem.

2) There’s little to no transparency from these companies on how decisions like this are made.
3)These companies have also failed to act in many other countries around the world in similar situations, or have made harmful content moderation calls in the past.
4) This isn't the first time when those in power have made big calls on content. In the past, tech companies have removed content, accounts, and platforms in attempts to fight “terrorism.”
Sweeping content moderation decisions can have big effects on marginalized communities, a critical reason these decisions can’t be taken lightly. A round-up from @jilliancyork: jilliancyork.com/2021/01/10/eve…
5) The U.S. public sector, government, and those in power have failed to address white supremacy and extremist activity long before the attack on the Capitol.
But first, let’s back up and recap what has happened with Parler, largely just in the past week:

- On Jan 6, insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn valid election results, after Trump incited violence at a rally and on his online platforms (for years).
- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Snap then suspended Trump’s accounts indefinitely, and Youtube did for at least a week.

- Apple, Google & Amazon Web Services took down Parler, a site that has galvanized the far-right & helped them organize the attack (which led to 5 deaths).
- Parler did not address this problem, and knowingly allowed illegal and harmful activity on its platform that led to an attack on the Capitol.

- As private parties, Apple, Google & AWS stopped providing services to Parler bc the site did not comply with their codes of conduct.
There are still many questions for everyone: tech companies, political officials & the American people.

What was the process & timing behind the companies’ decisions to pull Parler? We need transparency so that developers & the public know how & when platforms will take action.
How did the companies respond to previous reports of extremism/harmful content on Parler? What roles did other social media platforms play in the attack? This information should be more public.
Would tech platforms have responded similarly elsewhere in the world? Let’s not forget how Facebook’s platform has been the source of violence in Myanmar, Ethiopia, and elsewhere around the world, and other government leaders have used Twitter to incite violence.
But here’s what we do know: While Parler was down for a few days, the company moved to Epik, a domain registrar known for hosting far-right extremists. Parler CEO John Matze has also not addressed the issues raised by the Big Tech companies and American society at large.
We’ve written a letter asking Parler for more information on how it will uphold its responsibility to respect human rights.

We’re looking for answers ASAP: accessnow.org/how-does-parle…
Instead, Parler has said that tech companies' response is a free speech attack.

Let’s debunk that right now: the 1st Amendment only protects against censorship by the *government*, so tech cos de-listing Parler & preventing Trump from tweeting doesn't violate the 1st Amendment.
BUT that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a Big Tech monopoly issue. Any decisions that these companies make will continue to have big implications for freedom of expression.
This situation reinforces just how much power Apple, Google, and Amazon have. As providers of hosting services, they can either host or not host. Refusing to host is a big deal! It results in the shutdown of an entire service and should only be considered as a last resort.
Parler has failed here. Allowing illegal activity on its platform forced the hand of Amazon, Google, and Apple to shut it down. They had little other alternatives in the face of escalating violence.
The stakes are high. We need full transparency and accountability. Tech companies have codes of conduct that developers and clients must follow, and they should be enforced equally across the board.
We demand more from these companies that control so much of the internet, especially when they’re making big decisions.
Parler and other sites like it must be held accountable, too. We’re investigating how this could have been better handled, and what we can learn going forward to move toward a safer, more rights-respecting internet for all.
Everyone, including companies and governments, have roles to play. Here are Access Now’s 26 recommendations for lawmakers, regulators, and company policy makers to help ensure online platforms do not facilitate harm: accessnow.org/guide-how-to-p…
As a society, the U.S. needs to take a step back and consider how failing to adequately address centuries of inequality has led to this moment, and how that is reflected, like a mirror, back at us online. We all have a lot of work to do.
P.S. Here are things that won’t help: enabling more surveillance, blocking encrypted platforms, reforming Section 230 w/o an eye towards protecting at-risk groups, and silencing activists (we don’t mean insurrectionists here) who are fighting for human rights & a better internet.
We encourage you to join the Access Now community, and help us advocate for digital rights in the U.S. and around the world: accessnow.org/express
Also, we hope that you will follow the many others who have worked on these issues in the U.S. for a long time:
@EFF
@PENamerica
@evan_greer
@fightfortheftr
@jilliancyork
@EFFFalcon
@rankingrights
@mediajustice
@culturejedi
@splcenter
@rashadrobinson
@ColorOfChange

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More from @accessnow

13 Jan
Uganda's election starts in just a couple hours.

Meanwhile, its citizens can't get online due to a state-orchestrated #internetshutdown.

This is a severe breach of human rights ‼️ We call on President @KagutaMuseveni to #KeepitOn #UgandaDecides2021
Yesterday, the Ugandan Communication Commission ordered ISPs to:

- block social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Playstore Apps
- block over 100 VPNs (circumvention tools), making it impossible to avoid the censorship
accessnow.org/uganda-interne…
The government has effectively cut off millions of people off from each other and the world.

#KeepitOn #UgandaDecides2021
Read 4 tweets
16 Mar 20
1/ While our communities are focused on staying safe, as of now, @PIRegistry is still holding @ICANN to the March 20 deadline to decide on whether control of .ORG will transition from @internetsociety to private equity firm @ethos_capital.
2/ The #dotorg transition would add risk to crucial channels of trusted information in a precarious time.
3/ Given the current global crisis around #COVID19, and what is at stake for all who depend on .ORG — including civil society and many healthcare providers around the world — to reach people in urgent need of assistance, PIR should immediately extend the deadline.
Read 4 tweets

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