From there it’s Tricky The department
I have delayed writing in-depth thoughts on the total deplatforming of the parlor, as there was a lot happening in part (including some more timely posts about Parler’s lawsuit about it), but more importantly over the years I Calling people think more deeply about content moderation rather than the layer of infrastructure. Because those issues Are too complicated Compared to the general content moderation debate.
And once again I am going to make the mistake of offering an argument on the Internet. I urge you to read this entire post, resist any knee-jerk reaction and consider the big issues. Actually when i started To write this post, I felt that it was being argued that legally, the move against the parlor was indeed a mistake and something to be concerned about. But as I explore the arguments, I simply cannot justify any of them. Upon inspection, they all split up. And so I think I will return to my initial stance that companies are free to make decisions here. However, there should be concern when regulatory and policy makers start talking about content moderation at the infrastructure layer.
The “too long, unread” version of this argument (and again, please try to understand the nuances) is that even though Parler is currently down, it is not due to the single company having total control over the market. there are doing the option. And while it appears that Parler is having difficulty finding an alternative to work with, this is the nature of a free market. If you are so toxic that companies don’t want to do business with you, then it’s up to you. Not them.
It is possible to feel somewhat conflicted on this. I initially thought Inconvenient With Amazon removing Parler from AWS hosting, the service was effectively shut down, and Apple removed its app from the App Store, effectively barring it from iPhones. In both cases, they looked like very large guns that were not narrowly aimed. I was atleast Similar to Google is concerned about removal, as it does not block the parlor from Android phones, as you do not have to go through Google to get it on Android phones. But (and this is important) I think all three moves are clearly For companies to take legal and appropriate steps. As I explored each issue, I kept coming back to a simple point: the problems the parlor is currently facing are Due to their own actions And companies’ reluctance to engage with a toxic operation. It is a free market.
If Parler’s position was due to Government pressure Or because there were no other choice For the company, then I would be a lot more concerned. But this does not happen.
The Internet infrastructure stack is represented in various ways, and there is no definitive model. But an easy way to think about it is to have “edge” providers – websites you interact with directly – and then have everything below them: Content Delivery Network (CDN) that routes traffic, hosting companies / data Help centers / cloud providers that host real content, broadband / network / access providers, and domain registers and registrars that help handle naming and routing setups. And there are a lot of other players too, some (like advertisements and some communication providers), with elements on the edge and elements deep in the stack.
But an important thing to understand is the level of restraint the various players have, and can have an overall impact on their moderation. Deleting a tweet is a matter for Twitter. The second thing for Comcast to say is “You can’t use the Internet.” The consequences of moderation become so severe that you go into the stack. In this case, the only real alternative to AWS for Parler was to remove the entire service, as it could not target problematic content (of which there were many). As for the App Store, this is a difficult question. Is the App Store Infrastructure, or Edge? Perhaps they are both a small one, but they had only one limited option: remove the application altogether, or retain all of its contents.
For many years, we have talked about the risks of saying that players in the infrastructure stack should be responsible for content moderation. I was concerned, back in 2014, when it came to placing obligations on domain registrars, the domains they had registered were used for websites that broke the law. There have been some attempts to hold such players responsible as if they were actual jurists, and this clearly creates all kinds of problems, especially at the 1st amendment level. When you go deeper into the stack, moderation options are less like a scalpel and more like a sledgehammer that remove entire websites from existence.
Nearly a decade ago, in a situation that has some similarities to what has happened now, I highlighted concerns about Amazon deciding to displace WikiLeaks in response to angry demands from then-Senator Joe Lieberman Was. I found that highly problematic, and likely to be unconstitutional – although WikiLeaks, without the presence of the US, at the time stood very low to challenge it. My concern was less with Amazon’s decision, and more with Liberman’s pressure.
But it is important to go back to first principles in thinking through these issues. It is quite clear that companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google have every legal right to remove services they do not want to associate with, and there is a reason why people and companies might not want to associate with Parlar. But many are concerned about takedowns based on the idea that Parler may be “completely” deplatformed, and that a company saying “we don’t want you here” can leave them with no other options. . Not so much a content moderation question as a contest.
If it’s a competition question, then I don’t see why Amazon’s decision is really a problem. AWS has only 32% marketshare. There are many other options out there – including Oracle’s Trump-friendly cloud services, which promote how easy it is to switch from AWS to your website. Oracle’s cloud already hosts Zoom (and now Ticketok’s US services). There is no reason that they also cannot host Parler.
But, at least according to Parler, it is having trouble finding an option that will host it. And it’s hard to feel sympathy on that front. Any business needs to make connections with other businesses to survive, and if another business does not want to work with you, you can go out of business.. Landlords may not want to pay rent to distressed tenants. Fashion houses can choose not to buy from factories with exploitative labor practices. The business police practice each other’s business all the time, and if you’re so venomous that no one wants to touch you … at some point, it’s probably up to you.
The situation with Apple and Google is a bit different, and again, there are a lot of nuances to consider. With Apple, apparently, it is controlling access to its own hardware, the iPhone. And a reasonable argument should be made that Apple offers the complete package, and part of that deal is that you can only add apps through its App Store. Apple has long argued that it does this to keep the phone safe, although it may also raise some anti-competitive concerns. But Apple has banned too many apps in the past (including Parler competitor Gab). And this is part of the nature of iPhone ownership. And, in fact, there is a way to route around Apple’s App Store: You can still create web apps that will work on iOS without having to go to the store. This limits functionality and the ability to reach deep into the iPhone for certain features, but they are tradeoffs.
With Google, it seems that anxiety should also be reduced. Not only can Parler serve as a web app, Google Does Allows you to sideload apps without using the Google Play Store. So the only limitation was that Google didn’t want the app Own shop. Indeed, before Amazon took everyone down from Parlar, the company was promoting its own APK for sideloading Android phones.
In the end, it is hard to argue that this is as worrying as my initial gut reaction said. I am still concerned about content moderation when it reaches the infrastructure layer. I am quite worried that people are not thinking through such governance-administration questions. But when it is specifically related to Parler, exploring each issue, it is difficult to find anything that is directly related. Mostly, options are available for the parler. And one area that there apparently aren’t (cloud hosting) seems less because AWS has more market power, and more because a lot of companies just don’t want to associate with Parler.
And it is basically the free market asking Parler to do its work simultaneously.
* It is noteworthy that AWS customers can easily migrate only to Oracle Cloud, as Oracle has copied the AWS API without permission, which according to their own attorneys is copyright infringement. Expect Oracle to never be hypocritical.
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Filed under: application store, aws, cloud computing, content moderation, deplatforming, infrastructure, network stack, play store
Companies: amazon, apple, google, parler