There’s a lot to lean from the way in which Big Tech took down social media platform Parler more than a week ago, and one of the lessons to take away from that whole debacle is the fact that Amazon Web Services (AWS) can also not be trusted (with your business). Thanks to AWS stopping their service to Parler, the social media website has now been offline for days.
Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article detailing how Big Tech worked together in taking down Parler, and I highly recommend reading it in full. Here’s a quote from his article, “How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler” (January 12th 2021):
The united Silicon Valley attack began on January 8, when Apple emailed Parler and gave them 24 hours to prove they had changed their moderation practices or else face removal from their App Store. […] Shortly thereafter, Parler learned that Google, without warning, had also “suspended” it from its Play Store, severely limiting the ability of users to download Parler onto Android phones. Google’s actions also meant that those using Parler on their Android phones would no longer receive necessary functionality and security updates.
The day after a united Apple and Google acted against Parler, Amazon delivered the fatal blow. The company founded and run by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, used virtually identical language as Apple to inform Parler that its web hosting service (AWS) was terminating Parler’s ability to have AWS host its site: “Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST.”
We’ve seen Big Tech deplatforming people they don’t like in a coordinated way before, for example in the case of Alex Jones and his Infowars website. Like I wrote in “The Danger Of ‘Software As A Service’ And ‘Infrastructure As A Service’”:
We see that Silicon Valley, in trying to push forward a specific social agenda, keeps trying to coerce their users in the direction that their controllers — the financial elite — want. Anyone who doesn’t fall in line is banned based on “community standards” and other arbitrary and subjective policies that — certainly as we’ve seen with Salesforce.com in the above case and Patreon in the past — can change on a whim. Even if you don’t violate any of these policies today, you have no idea what’s to come in the future and you’re taking a serious risk.
I have been using AWS myself for testing purposes while developing QuantumGate, and I’ll terminate my account with them this month.
One of the things I’m wondering about is what all of the engineers working for these Big Tech companies are thinking while this is going on. I know that if I was working at one of these companies, I would have quit a long time ago. In fact, in March 2020, a technical recruiter from Amazon contacted me mentioning that they were looking for software engineers to join their Alexa Search team. If you don’t know, Alexa is the virtual assistant AI technology that Amazon is using in some of their products, such as their smart speakers. There are already many stories online about privacy violations and Orwellian scenarios when it comes to these products from Amazon, and combined with the above mentioned kind of behavior (censorship, deplatforming etc.), I would have to be absolutely fucking stupid to consider working at Amazon. Needless to say, after a polite initial reply I stopped communicating with the recruiter.
Apart from Parler, Big Tech is now also threatening other ‘free speech’ platforms with punishment if they don’t obey their commands. For example, Minds recently also received a threat from Google, as mentioned at Speaking About News, “Google sends ‘24 hour warning’ to free-speech ‘anti-Facebook’ platform, Minds” (January 16th 2021):
The social media platform Minds had to remove ‘major functionality’ from its Android app after getting a chilling warning from Google. Its co-founder said plans for a censorship-resistant infrastructure are in the works.
In a post on Friday evening, Bill Ottman said that Minds had received a “24 hour warning” from the Google Play store. This forced them to submit an updated version of the app, based on “interim solution and ninja developers,” which removed the search, discovery and comments functionality.
“I know. We aren’t happy and will be working towards something better,” Ottman said.
Ottman advised users to download the app from Minds directly if possible. “If you are on Apple, leave if you’re smart,” he said. As for going forward, he said a plan for “fully censorship-resistant infrastructure” is coming soon, and that Minds has “multiple escape pods ready to go” if Amazon moves against them.
One of the important things to take note of is the fact that Ottman mentions that “if you are on Apple, leave if you’re smart.” Just a few days ago I wrote the same thing:
Even hardware manufacturers cannot be trusted anymore, such as in the case of Apple and Google. In a recent post about Apple, I had already warned to stop using their hardware and software because they are using their control over both to censor content on their platforms and dictate to users what they are allowed to install and use on their devices.
The same goes for Google; if you are on Android, leave if you’re smart. While side-loading apps that are blocked by Google in their Play Store is much easier on Android devices (it’s very difficult on Apple devices for the average user), it could be just a matter of time before this changes. It’s best to start looking at open and free alternatives such as the Librem 5 phone.