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Tech Tyranny: Parler in Peril and Twitter Tests the Truth

Parler in dire straits, and Twitter tribulations for progressive activists.

by | Feb 4, 2021 | Columns, Privacy & Tech

Social media platform Parler quickly gained symbolic status as a free speech frontier after the Capitol riots as one platform which would not capitulate to the politically correct – but is that all over now?

Parler Free Speech Crusade Collapses Under Infighting?

Parler quickly gained thousands of users in the aftermath of the 2020 election, but the company’s rising star was shot down when Silicon Valley giants Apple, Amazon, and Google accused the platform of fomenting violent discontent that led to the events of Jan. 6. Since the three tech giants pulled their online hosting services, Parler was yanked from the web and has not so far managed to get back online.

Expectations were high that Parler would soon resume its services, but it looks like a rift between the owners has brought that – as well as the future of the company – into question.

CEO John Matze has reportedly been fired by the company’s board, which he says is controlled by Rebekah Mercer, over competing visions. In a memo to Parler staff, obtained by Fox News, Matze wrote:

“Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed. For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation.”

It’s unclear at this point what the specifics of Matze’s vision are, but it would appear the dispute is over content moderation policies going forward – providing ideal “product stability” while also maintaining free speech for users.

Co-founder Mercer has been described as a Republican megadonor and a Trump supporter of anti-establishment views. The heiress revealed in November 2020 that she had been helping to bankroll the social media platform, making a statement at the time in support of its freedom-oriented stance:

“John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy … The ever-increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online. That someone is Parler, a beacon to all who value their liberty, free speech, and personal privacy.”

Does this commitment to free expression signify that there is something else behind the rift between Mercer and Matze – or has one of them changed their approach in light of the business realities of Big Tech control and Parler’s lack of success in circumventing the Silicon Valley pillars to make it back onto the internet?

Parler investor and political pundit Dan Bongino waded into the fray with another behind-the-scenes point of view, suggesting that “the story you’re hearing is, unfortunately, not correct.” On a Facebook video, Bongino took the gloves off, asserting that Matze is “not telling the truth.” He stated, “There were two separate visions for the company, and I don’t know what John’s saying in his reports out there, but this free speech vision, that was ours – the other owners in the company.”

Bongino continued:

“Some terrible decisions were made in the past that led to this, that led us to getting pulled down by Amazon and others. It was us, me and the [two] other owners … that were constantly on the side of ‘this site was going to be a free speech platform or it was going to be nothing’ … After Apple, Amazon and Google wiped us out, we could have been up in a week if we just would’ve bent the knee … We don’t want garbage on our site either and we took the proper steps to do that but we were a free speech site and will remain as such and that’s why it’s taken so long to get back up.”

Ultimately, it remains unclear what has been going on behind the closed doors of Parler’s offices. What does this untimely division mean for the future of liberty on social media? Only time will tell.

Twitter Tribulations

Two progressive icons face trouble in the turbulent skies of Twitter – Greta Thunberg is being accused of conspiracy, while New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is trying to deploy her fans into curbing an alleged misinformation campaign.

Thunberg rapidly and spontaneously rose to become the world’s favorite teen activist, definitely not manipulated by any adults. Accidental Twitter posts show that not all may be as it appears with this lone-wolf influencer, however. Thunberg, weighing in on recent farmers’ protests in India, mistakenly tweeted a document that instructed her on what to say to support the Indian revolt. The script included suggested posts and tags for the eco-warrior, as well as links to other celebrities.

The post was quickly deleted from Thunberg’s Twitter account, but the damage was done. Not only did it provide a peek behind the curtain of supposedly grassroots activism, but a politician has called it “evidence of international plans for attacks against India,” and the group is being investigated for criminal conspiracy. Luckily for Greta, it appears she is not being investigated personally.

AOC is also weighing in on protests – but closer to home. In fact, if you believe the congresswoman, she was right in the thick of the riots on Jan. 6 and came close to death. Question her claims and her supporters will have your posts removed from social media – or that appears to be what she is hoping for.

The representative has been dubbed “Alexandria Ocasio-Smollett” by some who claim her story of events is exaggerated. She has been likened to actor Jussie Smollett, who has been accused of fabricating a violent attack against himself. AOC’s staff was not going to stand for “misinformation” spread to sully her reputation, reportedly writing in an email to supporters, “As we speak, right-wing operatives with millions of followers on social media are spreading flat-out lies and misleading information about Alexandria. But with your help we can force Twitter and Facebook to enforce their own rules.”

The message instructs readers to find and report such messages, which are allegedly radicalizing people against AOC. The email was shared on Twitter by Jack Posobiec of the One America News Network, who has outright accused the lawmaker of lying. Posobiec wrote: “To be clear, a US government official is calling for tech companies to censor private citizens for daring to point out when she is not telling the truth.”

Is AOC a survivor of trauma? Is Greta Thunberg simply a stage performer following a script? The only obvious truth is that Twitter continues to be used as a tool to control the way people see the world.

~

Read more from Laura Valkovic.

Read More From Laura Valkovic

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