Today we remove Parler from Uptodown
This is the second time the “red button” has been pressed to wipe a large-scale application off the map. And although we have had many other minor cases, this new “experiment” has been one of the most devastating after the elimination of Huawei products.
A few hours ago, following the incidents in the United States, Google and Apple removed the Parler social network from their app stores. A project that defines itself as “Free speech platform. Speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being de-platformed for your views. “
Regardless of the particular reasons — always legit since as private companies they have their own policies, terms and therefore full right of admission — the consequences and reactions that they provoke in the rest of the community, in many cases for reasons that are not related with the substance of the problem, deserve an in-depth debate.
The last straw was given today by Amazon, which notified Parler of its removal from Amazon Web Services, its cloud services.
Soon after, alternative stores like APKmirror, and ourselves (Uptodown), proceed to remove the application from our sites.
Is this because we have carefully studied Parler’s ability to moderate its content?. Perhaps because we have some information about the proportion of dangerous content on that social network?. No. The incentive used by big techs — not necessarily deliberately, it is simply inevitable — to influence the rest of the industry is more prosáic and “perverse”.
I‘ll give some examples, always bearing in mind that this is an extreme case due to the possible consequences of not acting against hatred, but to illustrate how interesting the debate is.
If the Google, Apple, or Amazon criteria is based on the proportion of misuse of the tool, we could be tempted to do something similar by banning technologies such as P2P, since objectively it is a mechanism by which a huge amount of violation of intellectual property rights happens. Any torrent client, search engine, or page could be banned at will for their potential illicit use.
It also happens with emulation, a huge proportion of users use them to avoid buying titles, but after all these years we have seen the huge contribution it makes to the preservation of video game culture and access to content that would otherwise be lost.
Of course, they are very different cases, you probably think that we would not reach this type of action due to IP issues, but this “censorship” already occurs today in large stores in a totally subjective way, and as I said before, the reason why they disappear in a cascade from the rest of the sites is not for a matter of substance.
The fact is that no one can survive outside the ecosystem that these big companies develop, no one. The prohibition of one type of content, technology, or application is — inevitably — transitive to the rest of the products of those companies. “Sorry, if you work with this you will not be able to monetize with us.” Nobody would put dozens of jobs at risk to keep or even study the possibility of distributing a certain online app once they take a decision.
So, at the very least, these criteria should be transparent and have some kind of verification outside of the tech companies, since due to the size and multiple effects of these large platforms they not only affect their products.
Could you ban Twitter because it is used by a specific community? Perhaps because you find a certain number of threats, unmoderated illegal content. What response time is required to consider that it acts in bad faith. Where we place the line between the inherent danger of a tool, a platform or an App and the use we make of them.
Since it is not a simple question, it is reasonable to keep a neutral position until this matter matures.
- Internet without censorship!
- Internet neutrality!
They block Trump accounts on Twitter.
Apple blocks the app.
AWS blocks their servers
- It is not censorship, just go to another site.
Because if there is no consensus on whether it is appropriate to delete a certain account, how can we be so sure of doing it to an entire platform?
It seems obvious that Parler is a danger, but it is likely that in the future we will have to get to work on this together, without assuming that it is an internal matter of Google, Apple, or Amazon. Because if it is justified, as in this case, or it is not, the possibility of turning off service at this scale exists and it has already been used for different reasons and under different governments and positions.
Again, we hate giving bad news. I know that as soon as you finish reading this you’ll start feeling better, you’ll remember that you do not believe in any of this crap, that you are in control of your own life, and that you feel better using GPlay or the Apple Store. But you will have to make a decision and we have to insist on the importance of making use of independent and neutral platforms, and promote other ways to access your information and applications.