My Libertarian predilections make it hard to find sympathy for conservative media companies that get blindsided by Big Tech. Facebook, Twitter, regardless of anyone’s sentiment or attachment to them for their day-to-day communication needs, are not like regulated telecommunications companies. They are very much private platforms. It doesn’t surprise me that Parler’s lawyers ditched them. Using AWS is a business decision that comes with contractual obligations. An antitrust argument is flimsy at best when you have a clear violation of a service agreement. Sadly, Parler made a bad business decision and paid for it dearly. But many businesses do, and do not survive in the free market economy. The same can be said about any enterprise from a food truck vendor to a home builder, to a cottage app developer.
Do conservative media companies deserve to exist? I believe every honest business deserves a fair shake at survival in a free market economy, and deserves to reap wha they sow for poor business decisions. Risk remains a consequence best taken in a calculated manner. That said, does anyone remember the early days of these “Big Tech” social media companies? How they calculated risks, the low entry costs and the dorm room experimentation that seems to have all but died?
A mere decade-and-a-half ago, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. were far from household names. To this day their CEOs appear more like overgrown infants who have no idea what world they’ve been thrust into at the behest of an insecure, consuming public seeking the next big diversion. People forget these were all shitty websites and apps built by college kids in the late 90s/early 2000s that exploded. Facebook was competing with MySpace, Friendster, and other laughable attempts to dominate social networking. Twitter had managed to isolate and package short messaging. To this day it remains absolutely nothing special in terms of what it does from a business logic standpoint, is dangerously replaceable, and as such, overvalued.
Contrary to popular belief the “Wild West” of the Internet has not been tamed. Tim Berners-Lee, a giant in his own right compared to so-called Big Tech institutions, has perhaps the most revolutionary new direction for the web that puts the crosshairs directly on those who chose to use it for commoditization, and as of late, censorship. It is very much possible to consider Big Tech in terms of dated, legacy systems and culture. And thank God for that.
As flippant as it sounds, “Just make another, better Parler” is the answer. Parler is dead, and we learned something from this venture.
Parler is dead, long live Libertarian free speech platforms
Dubious profit model aside, MeWe’s UX is often better than that of Facebook, less bloated with junk advertising and has real-time chat built in instead of another god-awful messenger app nobody wants or needs. Parler was Twitter, and there can be any number of Parlers built on alternative server technology. Gab, which has now slowed to a crawl because of an overnight explosion of growth, runs its own servers. All we need is a Tesla phone to meet the sex appeal of Apple’s marketing and industrial design.
The work is hard. The culture czars are pervasive. But nobody need be married to a platform. Hence these lawsuits and hand waving seem superfluous and myopic to me. “Big tech censorship”, ooooohh. Their commitment to censorship is a double sided sword and just the impetus for a Libertarian tech awakening.
Personally, I say let the self-referential world of West Coast culture and its tech economic underpinned rot along with their pie-in-the-sky civic policies. There is a reason coastal citizens escape to greener pastures in the heartland where the Libertarian tech community is not only surviving but thriving. Welcome, one and all.