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A little bit of a change of pace this week with the video being solely on the events unfolding around removing content, people and even entire platforms from the internet. These are significant events in history, regardless of your political persuasion, and they’re likely to have a very long-lasting impact on the way we communicate online. It also raises some fascinating engineering challenges; could Parler have survived by building out their own physical infrastructure? Will Gab survive having done just that? Or is the whole house of cards ultimately dependent on Cloudflare’s, a company that may well be the death knell for Gab as have been for other sites in the past? Time will tell on that one.
This was the highest-attended live stream I’ve done and there’s some really interesting comments in the chat so it’s well clicking the YouTube icon and popping it out into a new window to read them.
- Free speech is not absolute – anywhere – and in the US there are numerous exceptions where free speech is not protected (and nor should it be)
- The more mainstream tech platforms have a history of banning all sorts of accounts for violating their terms of service, for example Twitter deleted hundreds of thousands of ISIS accounts in 2015/2016
- Tech platforms have also banned individuals spouting dangerous rhetoric around topics like COVID-19, for example booting Pete Evans of Facebook in December
- On the more white supremacists end of the scale, the Daily Stormer was booted off the internet in 2017 with the final blow coming when Cloudflare dropped support
- Cloudflare also killed off 8chan in 2019 after several mass shootings which featured prominently on the platform (including the El Paso shooter posting a manifesto there just before the massacre)
- The Okta CEO described Parler as “not even trying to suppress the threats of terrorism and incitement of violence” before cancelling their service
- I’ve got a whole thread running on the history of Gab bans although oddly, Gab has deleted a couple of the embedded tweets (they also disallow responses to their tweets which says something interesting about their views on the free speech of others 🤷♂️)
- Jack Dorsey from Twitter has an interesting thread on the removal of content and platforms from the web, with his most poignant observation being “companies came to their own conclusions or were emboldened by the actions of others”
- There is still content on the mainstream platforms that for the life of me, I cannot understand why they have not been deleted, namely a whole bunch of outrageous comments about Israel from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei
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