Apple, Google, and Amazon's decision to effectively shut down the social media platform "Parler" has resulted in cries that free speech and the First Amendment is under attack by big tech. The social media platform often referred to as "Twitter for the Right" was removed from Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store over the weekend. Amazon booted Parler from its servers late Sunday night which left users no way to access their accounts or feeds.
Parler had come under increased criticism that it had been used by some members to incite violence leading up to last week's riot at the Capitol in Washington. Several posts from users called for attacks on members of Congress.
Professor of Communications at Hartford University Adam Chiara says while many of its users will disagree, the decisions made by Apple, Google, and Amazon are not infringing on the right to free speech and the companies have a right to police their services.
"You can have the right to say things and if that platform decides, no you don't have the right to say it, it's not a First Amendment issue because you can say it somewhere else," Chiara explained. "It's not breaking the First Amendment, these are private companies and they're allowed to make these decisions."
When word began to spread that Parler would lose its servers Sunday night, many users searched for another online platform to go.
Gab.com, another social media site championing free speech, and individual liberty became their first choice. The CEO said there were over 600,000 new sign-ups in 24 hours.
"You can see that, if you're in the camp that you should have a complete free expression on these platforms and then all of a sudden those platforms don't exist anymore, that it feels like you're being ganged up on," Chiara said. "It is completely incorrect that if you try to wipe any kind of speech completely that it will be wiped off the internet. Nope. The box is open and we're going to just see where it ends up."
Gab does not have a social media app so it does not work with Apple or Google for placement in the app stores. It also purchased its own servers so it does not rely on Amazon or any other web server. Gab's servers have been overwhelmed by the new traffic and it's been difficult to create an account or log on to the website since Saturday.