Could this mean waves in the tech ecosystem?
The news that Apple has communicated to Parler that it may ban the app from its Appstore, has me wondering about the future of the device ecosystem. Could the right-wing of politics/society create an alternative tech ecosystem? If not, will regulation, at a future time, be its only remedy?
Given all the talk about right-wing social media, I decided this week to sign-in to Parler, and see what content was on the site. There is plenty of the usual right-wing rhetoric, normal stuff. It also did not take me long to come across a post from someone with 100,000+ followers, demanding that the Insurrection Act be invoked, and that the military be used to round up traitors. Scary stuff (and the kind of stuff that no doubt is motivating the Democratic leadership to remove the President as soon as possible). I am not reposting here for a variety of reasons. Firstly, because I am not sure of the copyright issues. Secondly because Salmon Rushdie advised me not to. Just Kidding, I was unable to contact him.
Moderation issues are complex. Listen to, for example, “Section 230: Everything You Need to Know — Tweets, Free Speech, Beyond”. I will write more on this in a separate blog.
I am 100% in favor of Apple defining, curating, and preserving its brand. Content like what I referenced above, is clearly not aligned with the Apple brand. When Steve Jobs inspired us all to think differently, I suspect he had something else in mind.
At the moment, all I know is Apple is considering banning Parler. If it actually does ban Parler, then I do wonder what the consequences will be. [Note: Since this was published, Apple did ban Parler].
For sure, the debate will shift from social media platforms to hardware platforms. Parler has demonstrated that alternate social media platforms can be created. Even without Parler, there have and are even more proof points, for example Gab, which has been implicated in this week’s attacks on the national capital/capitol.
Parler, in a sense, provides FB, Twitter and other social media platforms with a degree of insulation from anti-trust legislation. Android does the same for Apple, but will that be enough if Apple bans Parler?
More interesting to me though is the question of whether right-wing aligned interests could create an alternate device ecosystem. Sure, people will still be able to get to Parler and Gab via their laptops. However, we all do seem to live on our phones these days. Apple will for sure lose some Parler users to the Android system, but will the consequences go beyond that? [Note: Parler is also banned on the Google App Store. Question is one of whether Android is a more open technology systtem where Parler could still find a life in some form].
I am highly skeptical that an alternative device ecosystem could be created by right-wing aligned interests, though I am not confident I know enough to state a view with any authority.
I would strongly advise the right-wing free speech movement to focus on offensive ideas, which I fully endorse and support, and steer away from hateful speech. I understand the intellectual perspective that a threat to free speech anywhere, is a threat to free speech everywhere. However, sometimes, real life requires a little pragmatism, in addition to digging deep and examining what kind of person you want to be, and what really is The Important, in whatever is being communicated. There are important right-wing ideas that need to be heard. Keep the SNR high. I would naturally advise the left-wing of the same, for the same reasons. I would also advise the left-wing to condemn attacks on business quickly, strongly, and with the same veracity as attacks on government are responded to.
While we work through the existential and perennial issues of what speech we produce, what speech we listen to, and what speech we want to cancel, tech has some interesting choices ahead. I would not discourage any person or company from making decisions that are unpopular or have consequences, I am the last person in the universe to preach to others on that subject. However, for the overall tech industry, there are for sure consequences, regardless of the path we go down.