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Judge refuses to reinstate Parler after Amazon shut it down (npr.org)
332 points by eu 45 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 599 comments



Here's the denial of the TRO:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qhXD-4Kaw5dCEBv0dUM8buygEKg...

Parler hasn't lost the case, just a TRO that demands reinstatement on AWS, but the ruling on the TRO requires the judge to tip their hand about the case, and Parler is going to lose.

I don't think you even need to read the AWS AUP to know that Parler has no real case here. To buy Parler's contract claim, you'd have to believe that Amazon's lawyers are so stupid that they set out a TOS for the world's largest hosting provider that didn't give AWS the right to boot customers, which is something AWS --- really, every hosting provider --- has to do all the time. You almost have to not know anything about the hosting business to think there could be a case here.

But if you need to read a judge laughing Parler's claims off, well, now you can. Real "based" energy in excerpting the AWS AUP in their complaint and clipping it right before the clause that gives AWS the right to terminate service without notice to customers who violate their AUP. The judge, uh, noticed.

(As the judge points out, among the many problems with Parler's restraint of trade argument, there's the fact that AWS doesn't host Twitter's feed.)


IANAL and I'm not saying I disagree with your conclusion, but I do think the case is more interesting than just AWS booting a malicious customer (with regards to their TOS).

> there's the fact that AWS doesn't host Twitter's feed

This is funny (as in, LOL funny) to point out because it makes parler seem completely inept, but it's only technically correct.

They just negotiated a fat contract to host twitter, and that's set to go live in the next few months. Can that really not be considered an endorsement of twitter's content with respect to AWS' ToS? It's not like twitter just signed up for an AWS account like the rest of us do. There was a bidding and negotiation process. Sales teams on both sides worked on that contract. I don't think it's so unreasonable to take the existence of that contract as evidence that AWS reviewed twitter's content and deemed it acceptable content.

Why does this matter? Legally, I don't think it does. I don't see any good reason why AWS shouldn't be allowed to selectively enforce their ToS.

But Parler sought to compete directly with twitter. At the time of account termination, they were growing at a rate of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of users per day, and in a way where it's not hard to imagine it being zero-sum (twitter users terminating their accounts and going to parler).

I don't think the case would succeed, but I do think that parler can make an interesting case about AWS picking a winner and damaging a loser.


> This is funny (as in, LOL funny) to point out because it makes parler seem completely inept, but it’s only technically correct.

This is one of the cases where technically correct is actually the best kind of correct, because it goes directly to Parler’s claim that Twitter is a similar situated entity hosted on AWS being treated differently.

> They just negotiated a fat contract to host twitter, and that’s set to go live in the next few months. Can that really not be considered an endorsement of twitter’s content with respect to AWS’ ToS?

Um, no?

(1) Because if Twitter is under the standard TOS, they’ll be subject to the same reactive enforcement and quick cancellation as anyone else. Bringing someone on on those terms simply means you have the same trust as you’d extend to a random member of the public that they won’t break your TOS.

(2) Since they just “negotiated a fat contract”, they may or may not even be under the same TOS as are offered to people who just want to pick up hosting without negotiation. Which would be even farther from an endorsement of their content adhering to the general TOS.

> I do think that parler can make an interesting case about AWS picking a winner and damaging a loser.

Its possible that they could do so in the abstract, but they have made an argument along those lines, and its pretty clear that that concrete argument, as opposed to any hypothetical one they could have made, was, in the context of the particular evidence they’ve profferred to support it, unconvincing to the judge.


[flagged]


> It provided the platform for organising the summer of rioting the US has just seen.

Twitter was literally closing accounts and deleting tweets that called for violence during that summer. There was quite a lot of complaining where twitter done it in ambiguous situations. Twitter was not perfect. But twitter was definitely at least trying. Twitter would not had issue to delete clear calls for violence that Amazon would point to them for weeks - the way Parler acted.

The fact is, it is simply not true that twitter would be acting as parler regarding censorship of calls for violence. In fact, it is a lie.

Parler did not done even token pretend you are trying to effort. Literally only issue here is that you dont care about left wing radicals being censored, which is fine, but then you pretend it does not happen which is not fine.


there are still plenty of tweets that havent been deleted.


Yes. And it does not matter, because perfection is not required. Requiring perfection is just rhetorical trick to create false equivalency.

Amazon did not required perfection from Parler. Amazon is taking down Parler, because Parler did not even pretended to care about the issue. They have not done even token effort. Amazon is not taking down Parler for few bad message Parler did missed or were ambiguous.

Instead, Parler refused to take down messages Amazon pointed at few weeks ago. If Amazon sends twitter similar messages and twitter will ignore the Amazon for weeks or will respond with "we cant take them down, impossible", then it would be the same. That did not happened.


You are missing the point.

Why Parler? There are lots of other social media platforms out there using AWS with the same kind of rhetoric so that's not a good explanation or reason.


The general class of rhetoric is not the issue. The complete failure to take action about specific, identified pieces of content when notified about it is the issue.

Now


You are missing the point too.

Why did someone decide for that specific case and not the numerous others by ex. Twitter that are still there.

Picking on the little guy just because they are little seems to be a pretty questionable move.


> Why did someone decide for that specific case and not the numerous others by ex. Twitter that are still there.

1.) Twitter was not there and is not there yet. They will be there tho.

2.) Twitter was literally closing accounts and deleting tweets that called for violence. There was quite a lot of complaining where twitter done it in ambiguous situations. Twitter was not perfect. But twitter was definitely at least trying. Twitter would not had issue to delete clear calls for violence that Amazon would point to them for weeks - the way Parler acted.

The fact is, it is simply not true that twitter would be acting as parler regarding censorship of calls for violence. In fact, it is a lie.

Parler did not done even token pretend you are trying to effort. Twitter does much more then that.

3.) Parler is not little guy, they have Mercer money.


"Because you haven't yet punished all offenders, you can't punish any of them."

Am I getting your argument right?

Parler was the most gratuitous because:

1. They had a combination of very tight censorship of dissenting voices, and complete laissez-faire for violent and racist rhetoric as long as it was right wing.

2. It was used to organize a violent and very public revolution against the United States of America, which resulted in five deaths.

You almost certainly knew all these things already. The likely reason you are supporting Parler in this comment is because you agree with their political stance.


It must be nice to be a mind reader.

I don't care about Parler or crazy righ-wingers. I just care about the inconsistency with which these big platforms seems to be acting and so far I haven't seen anything provide a proper explanation for why Parler and not some of the other social networks out there.


There is explanation - both in this thread and in Amazons response to lawsuit which is public.

You don't care about fairness, you are just trying to convince people that there was inconsistency - by ignoring massive differences between how the two platforms operated. Parler was acting differently then Twitter.


> Why does this matter? Legally, I don't think it does. I don't see any good reason why AWS shouldn't be allowed to selectively enforce their ToS.

Well, first off, it's not necessarily the case that AWS's contract with Twitter is the same as AWS's contract with Parler.

But more importantly, whether or not a company chooses to enforce violations of contracts with third parties has no bearing on whether it can enforce violation of contract against you. The best you can argue is I think equitable estoppel: by not enforcing it on others, maybe they gave you a reasonable impression that your conduct wasn't violating. But AWS has a clause that says effectively "we don't waive any rights by not enforcing terms against you", and furthermore, AWS and Parler were already in communication about Parler's issues complying with the terms, which destroys any equitable estoppel claim.


Moreover, as I'm fond of pointing out: Amazon bounces people off AWS all the time, just like every hosting provider; abuse is a basic fact of life in hosting. Amazon will have no trouble establishing that what it did with Parler is routine, and that nobody could reasonably have an expectation that the AUP was merely performative.


For technology abuse (e.g. spamming, botnets, etc), legal reasons (cp, pii dumps, etc), or for not liking the content being hosted?

What happened to Parler is not routine when you exclude all of the cases of blatant abuse of the service.


Yes it is. It's right there in the AWS AUP. "Content that is defamatory, obscene, abusive, invasive of privacy, or otherwise objectionable". Other providers have even stricter AUPs, for instance against otherwise-lawful pornographic content.


The guy/girl above talks about it being routine, why are you citing AUP? You'd have to show they have done this before, frequently.


Is putting something like "otherwise objectionable" as a reason to terminate contract legal? Can AWS terminate contract with a website owner who supports, say, gay marriages, because there is someone in Amazon who considers this to be "objectionable"?


'Otherwise objectionable' is meant to be a catchall, but isn't really the one Amazon is relying on, since much of the content Parler stated it didn't want to remove is also unambiguously abusive and defamatory. The words itself are the same as Section 230, except in this instance Amazon is saying it is willing to consider its clients responsible for their user generated content.

There are religious web hosts that will terminate you for not following their Statement of Faith, so I don't think Amazon would have any issues in requiring its customers to have a particular stance on gay marriage in the very unlikely event it wanted to.


[flagged]


Suppose a group of passengers started a violent revolution against the pilot, and killed a flight attendant. Would you say that the pilot was being reasonable to throw them off the flight?


It’s a simple question about stats. How often does Amazon kick off services because of weak moderation and not because of illegal content? It’s not like these posts were not called out by government officials as illegal needing takedown that Parler refused to comply with.

Your analogy is shitty because there was no violent revolution conducted by Parler against Amazon.

The correct Analogy is the airline pilot kicking off any Parler employees traveling for business. That’s it.


That analogy makes very little sense, because an airline carrying Parler employees is in no meaningful sense an operational part of Parler's business, while AWS clearly is. I think you're reaching.

It doesn't much matter; this case is dead in the water.


It wasn’t my analogy to begin with. I was illustrating how stupid the analogy was to a passenger threatening the pilot. Parler didn’t threaten Amazon.

If you want to argue that travel isn’t essential to a business’s employees, that’s fine. My original question still stands though. How often does Amazon kick off tenants when they haven’t broken laws or abused technology (e.g. spammers)?


What does "abused technology" mean? The answer is that it means approximately what Amazon and its customers agree it means, as expressed in their contracts. Your personal norms about what abuse is and isn't aren't relevant, because Amazon made theirs clear in their contracts.

Technologists on message boards who are shocked and offended at Amazon's decision are generally tipping their hands that they don't ever have contracts reviewed, or really even think about them in their day-to-day work. A plain reading of Amazon's terms --- not to mention having paid attention to how cloud providers handled Gab --- made it clear that Parler's position was untenable.


> or for not liking the content being hosted?

Parler was widely distributing violent content from major leaders (c.f. Lin Wood calling for Pence's execution) in a movement that reality showed was a real and not theoretical threat (c.f. the mob chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" in the rotunda).

I really, genuinely, truly don't understand why people insist on understanding this only in the context of partisan censorship. Parler had been around for years, uncensored. Almost all it's major accounts had history on Twitter for years before that (often having been kicked off for similarly violent content, btw).

If Big Tech really, truly wanted to censor conservative opinions for partisan benefit... why did they wait until months after the presidential election to do it?


> I really, genuinely, truly don't understand why people insist on understanding this only in the context of partisan censorship.

It's motivated reasoning. It's how you can get to the conclusion that Amazon cutting ties with Parler is unacceptable.

I don't necessarily think all people who follow this line came up with it spontaneously. I'm sure there's a lot of propaganda to this effect swirling in conservative media, pushed and promoted by bad faith actors for various short term partisan ends. I'm pretty sure that's why the specious comparisons between BLM and the capitol attack became so widespread.


I don't necessarily think all people who follow this line came up with it spontaneously. I'm sure there's a lot of propaganda to this effect swirling in conservative media

Now that's motivated reasoning. You are choosing to dehumanize those who disagree with you, because that's more comfortable than acknowledging that they might have a legitimate grievance somewhere beneath all the ruckus around the election results.

It's logical to conclude that there will be blowback from a coordinated campaign to shut down the largest platform favored by "the other side".


> Now that's motivated reasoning. You are choosing to dehumanize those who disagree with you, because that's more comfortable than acknowledging that they might have a legitimate grievance somewhere beneath all the ruckus around the election results.

What now? I pretty explicitly humanized them, and even shifted the blame a way from them. Personally, I think a lot of them are being shamelessly used and exploited.

> It's logical to conclude that there will be blowback from a coordinated campaign to shut down the largest platform favored by "the other side".

Not really. The largest platform favored by "the other side" (which I'm assuming is conservatives/Republicans) was and is Facebook.

Parler was only favored by a much smaller, radicalized subset of conservatives, mainly those who wanted to spread false claims of election fraud (because, IIRC, it only got popular in response to Twitter putting warning labels on such claims, which offended this radicalize subset). I'm totally fine with any blowback from such people, since their cause of championing lies needs to be utterly defeated, for the good of the country.


Claiming that anyone who disagrees with your conclusions didn't come to their opinions on their own, but through propaganda, implies that they can't think for themselves but you can. That is at best belittling, if not dehumanizing. It fails to acknowledge that, bizarre as what's happening on the right is, the same rhetoric and reasoning w.r.t. propaganda applies to anyone. Believing those with whom you disagree to be brainwashed, as seems to be so popular on all sides these days, will fully prevent ever healing the rifts between groups.

This patronizing belief that "those" people need to be protected from manipulation is used as more fuel on the fire. Thus the cycle of radicalization is amplified. Any victory gained by force will create the will within the defeated to build an opposing force.

Instead we have to look for the underlying causes (e.g. opioid epidemic, loss of opportunities, counterproductive cultural aversion to education, etc.) that drive people to rally together under the first cause that promises to help them, and address those.


It isn't motivated reasoning, it is profound scepticism around how Amazon could have (1) identified the risk Parler was breaching their TOS (2) confirmed their suspicious and (3) ejected them from AWS in the time-frame that actually happened.

Parler seems to have been caught completely unaware that there was a risk of AWS cancelling their service, so presumably there wasn't any serious attempt by Amazon to seek corrective measures. It seems unlikely there was even an attempt to understand Parler's moderation process, because having those conversations and raising/addressing concerns takes time.

It is clear that the process to remove Parler wasn't slow and deliberative. The question in my mind is whether it was explicitly political, implicitly political or if someone powerful in AWS was just panicking. None of the 3 situations bode well for anyone trying to use AWS as infrastructure for communication. Which is a number of their major customers.


AWS drew attention to the violation of the TOS in mid November and provided extensive documentation of the kind of content they regarded as unacceptable in mid December [1]. You seem unaware of the most basic facts of the case.

1: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/01/filing-amazon-wa...


I am unaware, I'm not planning on reading the case details until after a month or two has passed. Best to get a little hindsight.

That is an interesting exhibit, thanks. It has swayed me on the time-frame, I'm not sure it changes my basic view - the AWS rep is talking about literally 3 posts in mid November, one of which seems to have 450 views in 5 days if the eye icon means what I think. From politely raising 3 horrible posts to extinguishing a business in a month and a half still leaves me questioning if the TOS was enforced politically.


Let's game plan for a moment. You are a hosting provider. One of your customers is violating your TOS and posting content that is objectionable. They are potentially big and growing customer so you are giving them time to respond while you try to weight the cost and benefit of enforcement at this time.

While you are working though this the customer is used as a platform to organize an attack on the government of the the country you are based in. 5 people died as a result and there is every indication that if the attack had gone the way the attackers wanted it to that more would be dead including the Vice President of the United States.

Suddenly the cost calculation changes. It has become evident over the several months of negotiation that the customer has 0 intention of coming into compliance. The speech they are hosting has already resulted in a very large and very visible terrorist act. They have ceased to be profit center and become a liability. What do you do?


What you are presenting is the worldview of someone who is biased. I do suspect AWS was thinking that - which is why I'm not ruling out political bias. Even if that interpretation of the Capitol riot somehow, miraculously, turns out to be correct there hasn't been time to prove it with evidence.

But, as chalst argues, there are interpretations where they were acting reasonably.


Yeah, you're going to find that most people are very much biased against enabling a violent coup on the government that is being really good to them. A coup that, if successful, has the potential to endanger their entire business, their wealth, and possibly their lives.

BTW, "you're biased" is not, in and of itself, a reason to entirely shut down an argument as invalid.


The bias isn't in the response, it is in the faulty interpretation:

  A coup that, if successful, has the potential to endanger their entire business, their wealth, and possibly their lives.
Not only was this an unsupported at the time, but unless something really flashy happens it is only going to become more obviously wrong. 1 violent riot in 2021 compares not so badly to the widespread peaceful arson and looting in 2020 that was brushed off as routine political expression.

> BTW, "you're biased" is not, in and of itself, a reason to entirely shut down an argument as invalid.

No argument on that particular point, but it is a decent reason not to try and use a certain infrastructure provider for communication tools or artistic content. Most people are looking for a dumb pipe when they pick an infrastructure provider, not a back-seat moderator with a twitchy trigger finger.


> What you are presenting is the worldview of someone who is biased.

"This site we host was just used to plan a violent revolution. It's more trouble than it's worth, let's dump them."

Is this what you mean by "bias"?


No, the bias is assuming that is true and acting on it without sufficient evidence.


What do you consider sufficient evidence here? There were multiple documented posts on Parler that have been documented running up to the events on Jan 6'th that show people organizing and preparing for it. The evidence was present before the decision by AWS. I know folks who were collecting that events weeks before the event and predicting violence based on what they were seeing. The evidence for it is only increasing now but there more than sufficient evidence on the day of the event to indicate that Parler was going to be a liability to anyone hosting them.

Bias in this case works both ways. It makes some ignore the evidence that was already present. Businesses aren't courts that need to prove guilt. This was about getting rid of a high risk client who had made clear that they will not be changing their high risk behavior. There is no reason AWS needs to share in that risk after giving them the opportunity to change.


> What do you consider sufficient evidence here?

If I became convinced the expulsion had nothing to do with Jan 6 and was part of a standard process of review that AWS conducted for all their customers then that'd be sufficient.

There were, generously, a few hundred people involved in the Capitol storming. It isn't obvious how organised they were organised since they lacked guns and riots sometimes start spontaneously from protests. AWS didn't have time to work out who they were, what they were trying to achieve, how they were organising, what there motivations were or what was going to happen next. Using that as a trigger to ban Parler - when they could easily have been organising on Facebook or in person - would be strong evidence of political bias.

> Businesses aren't courts that need to prove guilt.

I don't mind if AWS is biased, but part of the fun of kibitzing is assessing whether decisions are good or bad. AWS making decisions on bias rather than rational thought process would be bad. People who use evidence and can think in a consistent manner have a big advantage.

Twitter made the mistake of trying to rationalise their bias, giving us a memorial of them trying to rationalise "To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th." as a call to violence. It is a legitimate concern that the same sort of evidence-free thinking could take root in AWS's leadership - they might easily be drawing their leadership from similar pools of people to Twitter since the big tech companies are acting in the same direction at the same time.


> If I became convinced the expulsion had nothing to do with Jan 6 and was part of a standard process of review that AWS conducted for all their customers then that'd be sufficient.

Whoosh. The entire point of the evidence that exists is that Jan 6'th dramatically changed the risk calculation. Without Jan 6'th I can imagine that Parler might still be online. But if you ignore Jan 6'th and it's impacts you ignore a large part of the calculation going on for a business. Jan 6'th took Parler from hypothetically risky to proven risky.

You keep attempting to dodge or downplay those events but they happened and they had a very dramatic impact on the political landscape.


Why is it "being enforced politically" or not important ? You are worried about it being "fair" ?

Some humans who run a biz serving other humans stood up and announced "you and you camp Auschwitz shirt friends are odious, we don't want that stank on us".

Is it political ? Maybe. Or maybe they are simply decent humans calling out some pieces of shit.

Other times and places in history people haven't stood up to the evil. In some, they did.

Amazon is fighting the good fight here. Facebook has been an open collaborator. Amazon drew a line in the sand and said " we are on this side, hope you join us"

Amazon was late, but ended up on the right side of history. Evil needs to be told that the rest of us think they are wrong. They can't figure it out on their own.


The most likely explanation for Amazon changing its approach is that the issue was taken over from risk-averse managers who hoped Parler would do the right thing by closure-hungry executives who were not willing to wait and were willing to risk a lawsuit and conservative backlash.

The more interesting question is why Parler were willing to risk being shut down in this way. I see two possibilities: either they did not have a realistic understanding of their situation, or they preferred to have Amazon pull the plug rather than being responsible for unpopular moderation of their users.


> Parler seems to have been caught completely unaware that there was a risk of AWS cancelling their service, so presumably there wasn't any serious attempt by Amazon to seek corrective measures.

Read Amazon's reply to the case. They warned Parler for Weeks that posts were a massive violation of their TOS and Parler did exactly jack shit.

Finally they were kicked off.


> I really, genuinely, truly don't understand why people insist on understanding this only in the context of partisan censorship.

Because the same content exists on Facebook and Twitter (for the same reason: moderation is hard) but nobody is trying to disconnect them.

> If Big Tech really, truly wanted to censor conservative opinions for partisan benefit... why did they wait until months after the presidential election to do it?

They didn't. Twitter locked out the New York Post for reporting on the Hunter Biden story before the election.

What this appears to be about now is that the backlash from that sort of behavior was enough to cause a right-leaning social media site to become popular, and it continuing to grow in popularity would prevent them from doing similar things going forward.


Facebook and Twitter spend a cubic fuckton of money on moderation, at a scale significant enough that there are, annually, news cycles about the psychic toll Facebook moderation takes on the army of people Facebook pays to do it.

Parler hoped to do moderation on a volunteer basis.

The two services simply aren't comparable.

You can run a service like Parler on all-volunteer (or, like Gab, no-volunteer) moderation. You just can't do it on Amazon's infrastructure. Plenty of companies that aren't organizing mass shootings or insurrections manage just fine without AWS, for a variety of reasons --- some of which even include cost savings.

The constant comparisons between Facebook and Parler are talking points, and insulting to our intelligence. We know better than to buy into this stuff.


> Facebook and Twitter spend a cubic fuckton of money on moderation, at a scale significant enough that there are, annually, news cycles about the psychic toll Facebook moderation takes on the army of people Facebook pays to do it.

Which appears to be less effective -- paid moderators aren't members of individual communities -- with the result that most of the planning of the riot happened on Facebook.

> Parler hoped to do moderation on a volunteer basis.

So does Reddit, doesn't it? Moderator of a sub is the creator, a user? And it seems to be less bad than Twitter and Facebook.

The reason people compare to Facebook and Twitter instead of Reddit is because they're worse.

> You can run a service like Parler on all-volunteer (or, like Gab, no-volunteer) moderation. You just can't do it on Amazon's infrastructure.

What happens if you can't do it on anybody's infrastructure who has the capacity to host a site that size?

But you're changing the subject.


Reddit bans whole subs when they get too out of hand to moderate, while Parler effectively is one of those banned subs. Amazon presented a record of months of complaints about specific pieces of violent content on Parler, to which Parler not only didn't respond, but in fact waved off by saying they had a backlog of tens of thousands of similar pieces of content.

Reddit would have killed the toxic sub and been done with it. Parler couldn't, because they were the toxic sub.


> Amazon presented a record of months of complaints about specific pieces of violent content on Parler, to which Parler not only didn't respond, but in fact waved off by saying they had a backlog of tens of thousands of similar pieces of content.

They were adding six digit numbers of users a day. Was a temporary backlog that unreasonable?

> Reddit bans whole subs when they get too out of hand to moderate, while Parler effectively is one of those banned subs.

Reddit (per Wikipedia) has 330 million users and 138,000 subs. Parler had 10 million users, equivalent to more than 4000 subs, not one.

And I think that's the root of it. "Nuke from orbit" against something that had the capacity to be saved through measures dramatically less drastic than that.


> And I think that's the root of it. "Nuke from orbit" against something that had the capacity to be saved through measures dramatically less drastic than that.

But Parler _didn't even try_ any of these less drastic measures. They could have properly moderated, or if that's not possible because they were growing so fast they could have limited posts from new users, or added moderation bots, or could have blanket-banned the most problematic subgroups. They didn't do these things.


> they could have limited posts from new users

They did have restrictions on new users. People accused them of suppressing leftists by doing this.

> But Parler _didn't even try_ any of these less drastic measures.

Prior to the riot their failure was no greater than that of Facebook. Parler (but not Facebook) was forced offline almost immediately after it before being given any meaningful opportunity to do anything different in response.

It's also not obvious that their existing measures wouldn't have been as effective as alternatives once their user base stabilized and the backlog was cleared.


> But Parler _didn't even try_ any of these less drastic measures. They could have properly moderated, or if that's not possible because they were growing so fast they could have limited posts from new users, or added moderation bots, or could have blanket-banned the most problematic subgroups. They didn't do these things.

IIRC, Parler billed itself as an unmoderated "free speech" space [1]. IIRC, what little moderation it had was done by unpaid volunteer moderators, which in this case is akin to letting the inmates run the asylum.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/08/technology/parler-apple-g...: "Over the past several months, Parler has become one of the fastest-growing apps in the United States. Millions of President Trump’s supporters have flocked to it as Facebook and Twitter increasingly cracked down on posts that spread misinformation and incited violence, including muzzling Mr. Trump by removing his accounts this past week. By Saturday morning, Apple listed Parler as the No. 1 free app for its iPhones."


> Parler had 10 million users, equivalent to more than 4000 subs, not one.

That's about 1/3 the size of /r/askreddit, and comparable to /r/politics. Your approach to the math here is silly for a variety of reasons (users can be members of multiple subs, membership isn't split evenly among all subreddits, there's a long tail of subs with 1 or 2 members, etc.) Parler was equivalent to a mid to large subreddit. It would have been around the 50th largest.

/r/politics, for comparison, has a moderation team of ~60, most of whom have years of experience moderating the subreddit, and is assisted by a number of bots (automoderator, as well as some /r/politics specific bots) developed and tuned over the years to help. They also have direct lines to the admins (most major subreddits do) for when they need more official assistance. The sub also has a fairly well understood set of rules, and users who are willing to report offending content.

Parler had none of those things. I've had the pleasure of moderating a (much, much!) smaller community. I once encountered a situation where it got viral for a very controversial reason. I and the rest of my moderation team was unable to keep up with the quantity of content being posted, so we did something very simple: we locked the subreddit temporarily, preventing anyone without a history in the community from participating.

I stand by that decision having been the responsible thing to do. I can understand why, for profit reasons, Parler didn't want to do the same thing, but it would have been the responsible thing to do.

> "Nuke from orbit" against something that had the capacity to be saved through measures dramatically less drastic than that.

I've yet to see any evidence that this was the case. "Saving it" in the way Amazon wanted seems to be entirely anthitetical to the approaches Parler was willing to take. Even now, the best approach Parler has been able to come up with is to use some AWS ML scanner to detect bad content.


> a scale significant enough that there are, annually, news cycles about the psychic toll Facebook moderation takes on the army of people Facebook pays to do it.

Funny you should bring those news stories up, because they are often focused on how understaffed these efforts are. On a moderator to 100k user ratio, Facebook and Parler had effectively the same (0).

Just because Facebook pays a few hundred people to suffer ongoing psychological trauma doesn’t mean they are doing anything more than paying lip service to the complaints.


2.8B mau & 15000 moderators is .5 per 100k for facebook.


Right, do you realize how insufficient that is? 1 person in charge of the speech, photos, and videos of 200k people.


> really, genuinely, truly don't understand why people insist on understanding this only in the context of partisan censorship.

Well the fact that the riots were organized on Facebook for the month leading up to it certainly looks inconsistent.

> If Big Tech really, truly wanted to censor conservative opinions for partisan benefit... why did they wait until months after the presidential election to do it?

You mean until right after the elections that took away all of the Republican power to regulate tech? Seems like a great time to do it.


> Well the fact that the riots were organized on Facebook for the month leading up to it certainly looks inconsistent.

That's misleading. While there was definitely unacceptable activity that slipped through Facebook's moderation, they were making attempts to stop it.

IIRC, a lot of the organization activity on Facebook acted as a funnel to places like Parler. E.g. a protest event on Facebook, calculated to comply with its policies, which linked to Parler or Gab where more illicit planning could take place.


Facebook is so large that their moderator to user ratio is the same approximation as the moderator to user ratio of Parler. Parler was just more honest about not being able to realistically moderate people.


I’m not a lawyer either but I’ve dealt with AUP enforcement.

You don’t have to be perfect at content moderation. You do, however, need to be very responsive to the hosting provider. If they contact you about a piece of content in violation of the AUP, you better take it down ASAP.

Ultimately I think that is the core distinction between Parler and Twitter. Twitter has a professional moderation program that is responsive; Parler was not responsive, according to Amazon (and I’m sure they have the receipts).


> parler can make an interesting case about AWS picking a winner and damaging a loser

Parler made this specific allegation under the Sherman Act. It was rejected because "Parler...proffered only faint and factually inaccurate speculation in support of a Sherman Act violation. AWS, in contrast...submitted sworn testimony disputing Parler’s allegations." That said, Parler "has not yet had an opportunity to conduct discovery," so maybe there's a bombshell text somewhere.


> Parler made this specific allegation under the Sherman Act.

Well, tried to. They didn't do a good job of it at all. What they actually alleged (relevant towards this theory) was:

* There was set to a mass exodus of Twitter users to Parler

* AWS also hosts Twitter

... They didn't even allege that AWS conspire with Twitter. Sure, they don't have any evidence of that conspiracy without discovery, but they didn't even allege a fact that could be proven with discovery.

These two facts are supposed to sustain the theory that AWS had no other reason to kick off Parler other than a conspiracy to keep Twitter the dominant platform. Despite the complaint itself opening up by alleging that AWS kicked off Parler because Parler espouses conservative views and later conceding that Parler knew that its content violated AWS's terms, albeit Parler was attempting to rectify it.

There's another issue with Parler's claims that I haven't seen anyone else bring up: if Parler was expecting the influx of Twitter users as a result of Twitter banning Trump, how would kicking off Parler keep these users on Twitter or otherwise buttress Twitter's dominance?


> These two facts...

No, the second of those is not a fact. Twitter does use AWS for some things, but the actual service is not hosted on AWS.

And that's pretty much the end of it. As the judge rightly points out in today's filing, all of Parler's talk about Twitter is just a bunch of hot air.

That could change if this lawsuit proceeds, and discovery reveals evidence of conspiracy. But that is all highly speculative at this point, and I would not be surprised if a company as lawyered up as Amazon has taken steps to make it all but impossible for such a thing to occur.


For clarification: I'm detailing what Parler alleged as a fact (see ¶15 of the original Complaint for where Parler alleges this). My point is that if Parler's alleged facts are all true (which is not the same as saying they're all true!), that does not sustain its antitrust claims.


All fair, but I think it still bears calling out. Repeating a claim that's well-known to be bunk, and using the unqualified word "fact" to describe it, will sow a lot of confusion. Especially when discussing a case that already rests at the center of a great big gyre of misinformation and misconception.


Banks were just as well lawyered up and that didn't prevent damning communications in 2008.

This case may not succeed but I can see it being re-used as part of a larger antitrust lawsuit. Though I doubt a democrat DOJ will actively drive such a lawsuit against big tech.


I don't think it's so unreasonable to take the existence of that contract as evidence that AWS reviewed twitter's content and deemed it acceptable content.

Twitter content isn't on AWS now though, and there's no way to know what Twitter has agreed to remove in the move over to AWS, so essentially this argument says that Parler should be allowed to stay on AWS because it's possible that AWS might host similar content in the future. That argument obviously doesn't work. A business can't be judged on what might happen in the future.


>At the time of account termination, they were growing at a rate of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of users per day

[citation required] This is an absurd claim.


AWS also a a very large contract with another Twitter competitor: Pinterest


In what way is Pinterest a Twitter competitor?


Social media companies that compete for engagement (eye ball time) to sell to advertisers.


I don't buy this argument at all. That's such a broad definition. By that logic every single business that sells any type of product or service is a competitor since they all compete for consumers money.


Twitter and Parler are not comparable offerings. The only similarity is being in the vague space of “social media” or “microblogging”.

After that there is a major divergence between the type of content they host, moderation processes, and documented outcomes of moderation (eg: people espousing left-wing views being banned from Parler) that show the real difference between the two products and why one was booted and the other wasn’t.


It seemed apparent right when the case was filed that Parler didn't have a leg to stand on. It was partly a play for publicity that plays well into their customer demographics, and a dying gasp of trying to seek some kind of injunctive help from the administration, no matter how impossible it seemed.

Judging by how weak their infrastructure was in the first place, getting any kind of resilient hosting in place after all the industry behemoths turned their backs on Parler was clear not a viable option. If you can't get your site to work well with all the best tools, you really have little hope in the wild west.


I know effectively zero about Parler's infrastructure, but I would say it's not that uncommon to build a product tied specifically to AWS. What really surprised me though is that it took them days to get even a static homepage up.


My understanding is that Parler actively avoided making technical decisions which would tie them to AWS. Their problems coming back online have primarily been because most major hosting providers have refused to take their business (and possibly also as a result of their ridiculous hardware requirements, cf. https://twitter.com/th3j35t3r/status/1350612426115452935).


Those are... rather onerous HW requirements. Do you really need 20k cores to run a small-medium size social network? Asking because I have personal running a 40-50 million monthly users file sharing site on less than a tenth of that and most of it was done with Rails (itself not the most minimalist of frameworks).


Yeah, those requirements are quite steep for what Parler does. That being said, it is actually incredibly hard to scale any product that sees a sudden massive influx of users, media attention, and conflict like this. I mean this from a purely technical standpoint.

If your customer base is doubling every few weeks, that's simply not enough time to hire more engineers, onboard them, and get their resources focused on optimizing the stack to improve efficiency. It's also way more realistic to scale up your infrastructure in the short run until you know you've stabilized at a point where you can purchase and operate dedicated hardware to offset the steep margins cloud providers charge.

On top of it all, their product itself seems off-putting to a large portion of tech workers, which would make hiring talented individuals even harder.


At this point, we actually do know how to scale a social media site though, and if you’re making a new one you should anticipate such exponential growth.

It seems they did not set a sufficient foundation for such a possibility, and got caught unprepared.


For sure. I shared this in another comment earlier, but they literally were using a free trial of Okta [1] to secure prod. This is why all of their user data got leaked. Their code was written to fail open, so if Okta didn't respond for some reason to auth requests, access was granted by default.

[1] https://twitter.com/okta/status/1348191370528256002


My understanding is that that was a myth. The data which was exfiltrated from Parler was retrieved through their mobile API, which allowed for easy enumeration of content and didn't implement some expected access controls (like blocking access to deleted content).


Them using a trial version is not a myth; that is from the official Okta Twitter account.

My understanding of the scraped data is that some APIs used both sequential keys, and ignored both permissions and their soft delete flag. It’s not clear to me whether or not that API was permanently unauthenticated, or if it failed open once Okta locked them out.


That API was effectively public by design. It's the same API that anyone using the Parler mobile app would have been accessing.


That API --- their most obvious, public API --- appears to have done no authz, despite using sequential identifiers. There are private feeds on Parler. That's clownish. I don't understand why anyone would trust them going forwards.


I don’t understand either, but lots of people appear to be doing lots of things I don’t understand. So I’m going to assume that people will continue us to trust them going forward, even if I think they shouldn’t.


I don't know what the pill color for this is, but, like, welcome to the desert of the real and all that.


why are they not looking to colocate instead?


No colo company wants them as a customer and it would take months to order and install ~200 servers.


Probably because their workloads haven't stabilized at any meaningful threshold. You can only justify the capital expenditure if you know you can amortize it over time. Hard to do for a startup whose existence is being threatened. They are also a political hot potato, and would need the colo provider to agree to take them on and withstand the public pressure, which I doubt most would want.


Their proposed current hardware costs are a tiny capital outlay. Future current hardware costs are a tiny capital outlay.

They will pay far more for bandwidth than they ever will for hardware.


They probably don’t have the personnel who know how to order, provision, and physically manage that kind of hardware. They’re a small startup, and going with AWS means that they probably don’t have any of the necessary skills to do that.


I don't necessarily disagree with the hardware capex vs bandwidth tradeoff, but I don't think either of us are aware of their balance sheet to reasonably claim if this is an insurmountable cost for the business today or not. Paying for several thousand servers, getting them up and running, and tuning them isn't exactly a trivial effort... and then you have to deal with bandwidth.


From the tweet, looks like 540 servers max at this point. And sure, not trivial but you shouldn't be planning to run a large chat system without the technical staff to pull something like that off, whether on AWS or not.


Peruse https://www.lastweekinaws.com/blog/parlers-new-serverless-ar...

Unless you are building your webservice like it's 1998 (And webservices in 1998 sucked), you can't really disentangle from hosted solutions.


Sure you can, and lots of people do.


Agreed, I would wager that this is where a good majority of startups begin until they take a good stock of the situation at hand.


Heck, I do it in my current job. It's not that different from running in AWS.


Parler appears to have had an inefficient architecture that required an absurd amount of compute power to run compared to their customer base. Apparently they were running one hundred metal instances for their database alone; speculation on Twitter was that they’re struggling to find someone who can give them that much capacity in a hurry.


[flagged]


Not an attorney, but I've read all the briefs in the case (you can too at https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/29095511/parler-llc-v-a...).

Count 1 (antitrust) fails because you need to actually allege a conspiracy, not just say "Twitter is also a customer of AWS!" I mean, I immediately realized it was deficient on their initial brief, because they didn't even back up enough evidence to satisfy their own citations, let alone explain how they can pass the big citation they conveniently omit (Twombly).

Counts 2 and 3 fail because the gravamen is that AWS violated its own contract by not giving 30 days' notice. Ignoring the very next paragraph that says AWS can terminate with no notice. Their own response to that point in the reply brief was pitiful.

Actually, their response was so pitiful they tried a second reply brief (that's the "supplemental authority" brief) where they instead changed their argument to "this is our reading of the contract, and you have to endorse it because it's a contract of adhesion." Which instead comes across as "we totally missed that part in the contract, and now we're trying to legal fu our way out of not reading a contract." Changing your argument on the fly doesn't tend to go very well in the courts.

The quality of their legal briefs is not impressive, and when you're going up a large corporation with deep pockets and competent legal attorneys to defend themselves, you're going to have a very rough time of it.


> Ignoring the very next paragraph that says AWS can terminate with no notice. Their own response to that point in the reply brief was pitiful.

This is the part I don't understand. Did they really think no one would notice it?


My working theory is that they didn't notice it until AWS pointed it out in the reply brief.

Their previous attorney apparently dropped them as a client sometime around the 8th, and I suspect this lawsuit was put together in extreme rush on the 10th to keep Parler running. It absolutely wouldn't surprise me if neither Parler nor the attorney actually reviewed the agreement in enough detail to notice that AWS had the right to terminate immediately. Admittedly, this theory doesn't explain how the antitrust count gets added.


Also, Twitter is a future customer of AWS. They’ve not yet moved.


It absolutely is going to be interesting, but maybe not in a way that's successful for them. Filing a notice of authority in lieu of a sur-reply is bush-league argumentation.


Can you explain?


Sure, I'll circle back with a longer form response in a few minutes. In the meantime, I find it interesting that people think down voting my comment will intimidate me into changing the analysis. That's not how legal judgment works. That's not how anything works...


Look at it from other people's point of view.

Argument from authority is one of the weakest forms of argument. If you want to weaken it, you turn it into argument from claimed authority that no evidence was offered for. If you want to weaken it even further, you set that weak argument against a judge's decision and the reasoned analysis of other people who clearly have read the legal briefs and have pointed out specific problems with the arguments made.

This is exactly what you did. Now maybe you are exactly what you say and you are exactly right. However based on your current content, you are indistinguishable from a troll. And that is exactly how people are responding to you.

If you don't want people to treat you as a troll, you need to provide enough actual meat that it is clear that you are not a troll. But until you are willing to do that, you should expect the response that you are getting.

If your expectations are different, then that is your mistake. You should learn how the internet works and adjust your expectations accordingly.

If you want an example to look at, see https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=rayiner. He is a respected lawyer who often posts opinions that run counter to the average opinion on this site. But when he speaks about the law, people listen. Not because he claims to be a lawyer, but because he speaks in a way that demonstrates his knowledge of the subject.


I downvoted you not because I thought it would intimidate you, but because it lacked any content at all. You just asserted something without explanation. It was a low quality post. The way you respond to the downvotes now also makes me think you are not even arguing in good faith, but just doing performative victimization.


A legal professional saying a case is interesting, on a forum of mostly technical people, is a contribution. Even if a small one given a lack of supporting argument.

If tptacek, security researcher, says a case is no real case (even with arguments) and an attorney contradicts him then that is evidence tptacek is wrong.

Realistically, I still expect Ptacek to be right - I don't see how Amazon could be forced to host something they don't want to. Nor why it would make sense to make them to. So I hope this lawsuit fails. But the way Parler was assassinated seems a bit questionable and there might be some cause for complaint there. It may be that AWS's terms of service are overruled by some law somewhere and they'll owe someone money.


I must disagree here. Someone essentially saying "I have professional authority; you're wrong" is to me worth even less than a bare declaration of "you're wrong"--it is nothing more than an appeal to authority if there is no reasons given for the opinion.

Or, put more simply, to me, reasoning from a non-expert trumps non-reasoning from an expert.


> A legal professional saying a case is interesting, on a forum of mostly technical people, is a contribution. Even if a small one given a lack of supporting argument.

> If tptacek, security researcher, says a case is no real case (even with arguments) and an attorney contradicts him then that is evidence tptacek is wrong.

There is no evidence lest it's explained why the former is wrong. I know for a fact that a judge with actual credentials didn't think the case had merit. Now LiquidmetalFish claims otherwise, without any supporting arguments or reasoning.


Maybe they, like me, read the court's frankly damning opinion and didn't find that your fact-less argument from authority contributed to the discussion.

If you wanted to write a "long form" (?) reply then you could have done so. In the meantime the hand wave above has to stand on its own merits; or more specifically fall on its lack thereof.


I don't think responding in less than five minutes was unreasonable. It's also not legal advice, simply my personal opinion on some of the numerous issues that are likely to be litigated.

I also think this entire thread will be worth revisiting upon appeal.


> I don't think responding in less than five minutes was unreasonable.

This only further highlights how unnecessary the original low value reply was. Instead of responding with something of substance that took five additional minutes to write, you told us your qualifications instead of your views.

> I also think this entire thread will be worth revisiting upon appeal.

I don't really see why. None of the reasons you got downvoted have anything to do with this specific case (low effort comments, arguments to authority, complaining about the response to the forementioned, and then arguments that are poorly explored/rely on erroneous facts).

Even if Parler ultimately won via an entirely new theory of US law as you have argued, it wouldn't change that your comments here today could have been better and would have been received better if they were.


I don't see how this case will go anywhere on appeal: the facts that are actually alleged in the complaint are simply too thread-bare to support any matter of law that could be appealed, and Parler hasn't claimed anything that would allow your legal theory to apply to this case.


@mecurialshark, likely has nothing to do with trying to change your opinion. Likely has more to do with you posting your credentials as a reason to trust you but giving us nothing more than that.


Thanks, that must explain why his legal opinion below was downvoted to a similar degree.


It's not intimidation as much as a content-free post. You claim to be a lawyer and I have no reason to doubt that but that doesn't mean that your opinion is authoritative: for example, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani are lawyers but they clearly do not let either the facts or law prevent them from saying whatever is politically expedient.

Your subsequent comment avoided all of that by having something tangible which can be evaluated.


> I find it interesting that people think down voting my comment will intimidate me into changing the analysis.

I find it interesting that you think you can read minds as what expectations downvoters have about their downvotes’ effect on your behavior.

As you say, “That’s not how anything works…”


I do not possess power to read minds, nor anticipate the court's actions. I find it all, very interesting!


If you don't possess power to read minds, then you shouldn't say things like "I find it interesting that people think..."

Is that how you talk to the judge in court?


"I find it interesting that people think down voting my comment will intimidate me into changing the analysis."

If you actually offered an analysis that demonstrated your expertise you would have probably gotten upvotes instead of downvotes.


Say more!


I'm curious... how so?


Without addressing the specifics of the TRO (which is simply an early stage request for injunctive relief, asking the court to compel AWS to reinstate services pending litigation):

Packinghan v North Carolina (2017) - Access to social media and digital infrastructure cannot be prohibited by the state.

Marsh v Alabama (1946) - Constitutional protections of 1st and 14th amendments applicable within confines of “town” owned by a private entity.

Packinghan, viewed in combination with Marsh, provides an interesting lens for issues concerning a digit company owned town. If data storage and/or social media can be viewed as critical digital infrastructure and a private organization provides those services, an argument can and will likely be made that the services are tantamount to a digital company owned town.

As Justice Ginsburg said during oral argument regarding private digital networks, “the point is that these people are being cut off from a very large part of the marketplace of ideas. And the First Amendment includes not only the right to speak, but the right to receive information.”

And as Justice Kagan stated during Packinghan oral argument, "whether it’s political community, whether it’s religious community... these sites have become embedded in our culture as ways to communicate and ways to exercise our constitutional rights.”

Moreover, AWS's behavior may be viewed as an antitrust issue, acting in conjunction with a cartel. A party does not need to have majority market share to function in coordination with other dominate players in order to form a cartel that can manipulate the market.

Also, they may or may not have provided sufficient notice (a contract issue).

Either way, it's definitely relevant to industry and likely to be litigated on appeal following the trial court's ruling (whatever it is).


Regarding Marsh v Alabama: "Recently the case has been highlighted as a potential precedent to treat online communication media like Facebook as a public space to prevent it from censoring speech. However, in Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck [2019] the Supreme Court found that private companies only count as state actors for first amendment purposes if they exercise 'powers traditionally exclusive to the state.'"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_v._Alabama#Subsequent_hi...

Manhattan Community Access Corp. finds that _public access television stations_ aren't subject to the First Amendment, let alone private web hosts.

I mean, as an attorney, I think it would be kind of interesting to see what happened if the Supreme Court ruled that private web hosts in general, or Amazon in particular, are somehow state actors. It would be one of the most practically disruptive-to-society court decisions I can think of, about as interesting to watch as declaring that all warehouses are now public parks. But it's against both recent precedent and common sense.


>or Amazon in particular, are somehow state actors

They operate under the extremely valuable liability protection granted them in section 230 of the CDA.

If I were to take government funds to build my warehouse, there's a pretty decent case that it is at least a public forum, if not a park.


No, that would not be a decent case that your warehouse is a public forum. That's a risible argument. Hundreds of warehouses around the country are built on government funds, none of which are public property. Try telling General Dynamics they're a theme park operator and see how far that gets you.


https://www.csbj.com/premier/businessnews/lawsuit-arises-fro...

>“In sum, the financial participation of the City in the Mall’s progress, the arrangements with the City police substation, and the active presence of other governmental agencies in the common areas of the Mall, constitute governmental involvement in the operation of the Mall,” the court noted. Thus, it concluded the mall’s “open and public areas ... effectively function as a public place,” and that mall owners couldn’t restrict distribution of political pamphlets or signature gathering in the mall’s common areas without violating the state Constitution.

Also, General Dynamics absolutely operates under many contractual obligations in which the federal government directly dictates how they shall run their business.


So does every business. None of that means General Dynamics operates parks.

The Marsh line of decisions you're referring to was disposed of upthread. It's dead, Jim. SCOTUS just last year said you can't expect to pretend social networks operate as public squares; you can only claim functions that are normally exclusively the province of governments.


Also General Dynamics must submit to labor rules: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/program-areas/employers/fe...

The basis for title 9 regulation is that universities take Federal grants.


Section 230 liability protection is the lifeblood of these businesses. That protection is worth billions of dollars. While the courts might be unwilling to go there, Congress should define the obligations that come with such a valuable grant from the public in law. My proposal is that the law should be reformed such that moderation decisions made by section 230 interactive computer services should be logged and reviewable (at the plantiff's expense) in a reputable third party arbitration venue of the service's choosing.


> Packinghan v North Carolina (2017) - Access to social media and digital infrastructure cannot be prohibited by the state.

Amazon isn't the state.

> Marsh v Alabama (1946) - Constitutional protections of 1st and 14th amendments applicable within confines of “town” owned by a private entity.

Which doesn't apply here, as Amazon isn't a company town/acting in a quasi-governmental capacity.

> AWS's behavior may be viewed as an antitrust issue, acting in conjunction with a cartel.

The court ruled on this, and pointed out that the accusations were factually erroneous.

> Moreover, they may or may not have provided sufficient notice (a contract issue).

The court ruled on this, and sided with Amazon (zero notice in this circumstance). If anything Amazon giving them 24 hours was above what the contract required.

I suggest reading the court's opinion before replying, since it undercuts many/most of the points you've tried to make.


There has been no ruling by the court on the merits of the case. A TRO is simply a request for injunctive relief, asking the court to compel AWS to reinstate services pending litigation.

--

> Packinghan v North Carolina (2017) - Access to social media and digital infrastructure cannot be prohibited by the state.

Amazon isn't the state.

- Correct. My point is that Packinghan, viewed in combination with Marsh, provides an interesting lens for issues concerning potentially monopolistic behavior. IF data storage and/or social media can be viewed as critical digital infrastructure, an argument can and will likely be made that the services are tantamount to a digital company owned town. We'll see! Either way it's very interesting and highly relevant to the industry.


> My point is that Packinghan, viewed in combination with Marsh, provides an interesting lens for issues concerning potentially monopolistic behavior. IF data storage and/or social media can be viewed as critical digital infrastructure, an argument can and will likely be made that the services are tantamount to a digital company owned town. We'll see! Either way it's very interesting and highly relevant to the industry.

Seems like the core of your argument is that private companies could be subject to constitutional protections if they got too big enough/powerful.

Even ignoring that you've essentially invented a new interpretation of US law/ignored all existing precedent, the fact that AWS (32% market share) isn't a monopoly by either common definition or as defined by federal law completely undercuts even such a novel legal theory.

So you're on the outskirts of both law and basic facts here.


There are separate issues.

i) Antitrust - AWS's behavior may be viewed as an antitrust issue, acting in conjunction with a cartel. A party does not need to have majority market share to function in coordination with other dominate players in order to form a cartel that can manipulate the market. There's case law concerning market manipulation, access to industry and consumer protection issues where parties didn't need to directly coordinate to be considered a cartel.

ii) Practical dependence on service providers for access to critical digital infrastructure. To what extent do we depend on particular services for participation in society and the marketplace will influence the analysis. At what point does a data service provider begin to resemble a common carrier (i.e. cable, phone or internet provider) and in what context would common carrier laws apply?

iii) Contract issues - A few of the foreseeable issues include sufficient notice, contract breach, degree of harm (irreparable harm?), performance obligations.


The judge in this case wrote at some length about the bar Parler's argument needs to clear to make an antitrust claim, and Parler hasn't come close. To make a claim under antitrust, according to the judge who will decide this case, Parler must show (1) the existence of an agreement between Twitter and Amazon somehow regarding Parler, and (2) that the agreement was in unreasonable restraint of trade.

In reality they will be able to do neither thing, because we are all aware that Twitter is not in fact worried about Parler, and that Amazon could give 3/5ths of a flying fuck whether Twitter is worried about Parler regardless. It's a fantasy which has taken on a cloak of plausibility because we have other antitrust concerns about Amazon. But that cloak will not do Parler any good in this trial, nor will our other entirely reasonable concerns about tech consolidation.

Similarly, the judge didn't so much poke holes in Parler's contract claims so much as singlehandedly demolish them, pointing out that Parler's claim about their rights under Amazon's contract were directly contradicted by the very next paragraph after the last one they cited in their complaint.

It would be helpful if you could acknowledge the ruling we're commenting on rather than continuing to argue as if this was entirely abstract. We have some (imperfect) authority to rely on now, in the form of today's ruling.


There has been no ruling by the court on the merits of the case. A TRO is simply a request for injunctive relief, asking the court to compel AWS to reinstate services pending litigation.

Additional briefs following the TRO, replies, nor responses have been filed.

There has been no discovery, no fact finding, no expert witnesses, no oral argument, no jury trial and no opinion. The case has not been adjudicated by the District Court. It has not reached a stage where it can be appealed to the Circuit Court and it certainly has not reached post appellate petition for cert to the Supreme Court.


That's all true, but it's also all stuff you could say without having read the ruling, or acknowledging anything the judge said about Parler's complaint.

It's a short document! It's well written! I recommend it.

Further: some of what you said upthread is contradicted by facts now acknowledged by the court. There may be some barely-colorable argument about antitrust or contracts of adhesion or something, but there is not in fact a colorable argument that Amazon was required to give notice to Parler before terminating them for violation of their AUP; that's in the plain language of the contract, which is on the record in the case, but is also the easily-downloaded AUP a Google search will provide you. Your arguments would be more credible if they acknowledged those facts, rather than implying that they were somehow still up in the air.


Up and down this thread people are mixing questionable legal ingredients in hopes of finding a recipe that makes sense.


> (32% market share) isn't a monopoly

Well, neither was Standard Oil by that definition.

Of course, we already know how to solve the problem of companies having too much leverage due to owning too big verticals - namely to break them up. Not to institute everything-goes rules.


Standard Oil controlled over 90% of production and nearly that percent of final sales.

Courts have never as far as I can find used antitrust on an actor controlling a market at the low level Amazon has here. Can you find such a case?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Oil


> There has been no ruling by the court on the merits of the case.

Correct, but as part of the TRO process, the court is asked to view the merits of the case given what it knows, as part of the determination of granting a preliminary injunction is whether the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits.

The courts opinion, quite plainly, is that Parler is unlikely to succeed on the merits:

> In short, Parler has proffered only faint and factually inaccurate speculation in support of a Sherman Act violation.

> Parler has not denied that at the time AWS invoked its termination or suspension rights under Sections 4, 6 and 7, Parler was in violation of the Agreement and the AUP.

> Parler has failed to allege basic facts that would support several elements of this claim. Most fatally, as discussed above, it has failed to raise more than the scantest speculation that AWS’s actions were taken for an improper purpose or by improper means.

> IF data storage and/or social media can be viewed as critical digital infrastructure, an argument can and will likely be made that the services are tantamount to a digital company owned town.

This argument will fail, for reasons I outlined in a previous comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25781560. To briefly reiterate: Marsh v. Alabama concerned a privately owned town using state force (e.g. police) to enforce trespassing law.

But nothing about those rulings prevents the town from putting up a fence and a gate, and banning people from re-entering.

Twitter (and AWS) have a fence and a gate, and a guard who checks your ID anytime you try to enter the area.


>- Correct. My point is that Packinghan, viewed in combination with Marsh, provides an interesting lens for issues concerning potentially monopolistic behavior. IF data storage and/or social media can be viewed as critical digital infrastructure, an argument can and will likely be made that the services are tantamount to a digital company owned town. We'll see! Either way it's very interesting and highly relevant to the industry.

How on earth is Amazon kicking them off "monopolistic behavior"? There are literally thousands of hosting providers in just about every country on this planet. Parler was quick to point out none of their infrastructure is in any way tied to Amazon.


"monopolistic behavior" is behavior that leverages a company's dominant position in the market to hurt its competition.

The contrary is the case here. If anything, AWS is helping its competition by giving them Parler's users.


I don't see how Packingham or Marsh are likely to be relevant here.

While the former has some lofty language about central social media has become in society, it's still a decision about state action.

Marsh seems like a reach as well - PragerU tried that and it didn't work. I'm not convinced Parler would fare any better here.


I fail to see how either of these cases you cite are the slightest bit relevant to Parler v AWS.

Judge Rothstein stated it quite plainly in today's order: "It is important to note what this case is not about. Parler is not asserting a violation of any First Amendment rights." (Page 2, lines 4-5)


You may want to add Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980) providing a right to first ammendment speech on private property. Although follow on cases have narrowed the prescedent quite a bit.


That’s not what the decision said, you have misread it. It was not the first amendment, but rather the California constitution that required allowing the speech.


The analogies for the digital town/community break down when we consider certain practical and physical barriers that exist in company towns that do not exist in the digital realm. For example, the travel expenses and time required to purchase goods. You could go outside the company town, but it requires much more resources to do so, which is doubly impacted by pay being docked accordingly to bundled company town services (utility, rent, etc.), which traps residents. This is why they have been looked upon unfavorably.

But digital communities do not trap individuals, there is no practical limit except of mental effort to the number of accounts or social media networks a person can simultaneously use. Instead, the costs are borne by the networks themselves, which scales with the number of users.

This is an inversion of the scenario as the public is a passive participant, nothing is forced upon them. This is why I think the argument is not a good fit.

Parler and AWS, as business entities, can only act in their own interests as there is no duty between a corporation and the general public, only their customers through either a uniform or contractual relationship. Wouldn't you agree? It would be dangerous to assume that a corporation has a specific duty to the general public beyond existing customers. That is, AWS only has to deal with Parler, not Parler's customers. That is on Parler.

And I don't think the state enters into this at all.


Please! I'm always interested by the vagueries of contract law, if it isn't too much trouble.


Surely there is a Russian cloud provider?

Parler is a Russian company so it should be easy to sign up with local providers.


The judge went so far as to explain why Parler's motion fails on all of the points, not just the "likelihood of success on the merits". That's a pretty irate judge: they're going out of their way, incurring more work upon themselves, to berate you.

The only surprising things here are a) it took the judge a week to deny this motion, and b) AWS hasn't asked for the case to be transferred to arbitration (given the mandatory arbitration clause in the TOS somewhere).


> (given the mandatory arbitration clause in the TOS somewhere).

This was the most surprising angle to me - that the case didn't fail prima facie on this clause alone. I guess at least it serves to really emphasize how bad of a case they brought.


> The judge went so far as to explain why Parler’s motion fails on all of the points,

Well, actually, they said that it could pass on irreperable harm, but that was somewhat mitigated by the fact that much (but not all) of the harm could be addressed by money damages.

It did fail the the other 3 elements, and the balancing test in the alternate Ninth Circuit criteria.


[flagged]


The harm to AWS is in "interfer[ing] with AWS’s ability to prevent its services from being used to promote—and, as the events of January 6, 2021 have demonstrated, even cause—violence."

I wouldn't call that a laughable claim...


Plenty of people have posted similar or worse things on Twitter without moderation by Twitter or much shame to Twitter's upstream service providers.

Also, can you draw a direct causal line between AWS hosted Parler posts and actual violence that took place on Jan 6th?


I actually agreed with you until I read the order. It's about public good. Parler is arguing that Amazon is part of a cartel and that that's harmful to public, so the injunction restores fairness to the market. The judge finds that meritless because they have no evidence that the cartel exists, and so the injunction does nothing for the public good. I'm certain the factual errors about AWS hosting Twitter's feed didn't help.

Amazon argues that Parler had a role in the insurrection, so banning them is in the public good. Given the amount of content from the insurrection on Parler, it seems more likely than not that at least one person there was influenced by Parler. There is no requirement that absolute proof be shown, the judge is weighing probabilities here. It also helps Amazon that injunctive reliefs are considered an extraordinary measure, so Amazon wins by default unless Parler can reach a significant bar.

This was a moonshot, and Parler knew it. They're asking for a strong legal response based on a pretty flimsy case. Even if what they are saying is true (which I strongly doubt, but what if), they simply don't have the evidence they need to get this relief.


>it seems more likely than not that at least one person there was influenced by Parler.

I think that the real, concrete harm done to Parler's by their instant removal from Amazon is definitely not balanced by whatever "harm" in some Parler client's head before 6 Jan. I don't think it's a close call, and it is scary that federal judges are willing to make such a judgement.

The standard here seems to be that any unsubstantiated theoretical harm from user-uploaded content can be used as a basis to instantly kill any AWS client's business, if Amazon suddenly feels like doing so.


Probably†, but they don't have to. AWS's AUP sets the bar for what is or isn't acceptable on AWS, and AWS has 64 pages of Parler posts that contravened that AUP, many of which AWS warned Parler about and got no response.

We'll all know soon enough, since Parler got dumped by a trivial IDOR vulnerability almost the moment AWS gave them notice they were going to be taken offline.


Yes, but apparently the work of drawing causal inference is unneeded because the judge already assumed it in her ruling, perhaps using her amazing oracular or exploit powers.


Expanding on this, "courts have repeatedly emphasized, an injunction represents an 'extraordinary remedy' that is never awarded as a matter of right... For a preliminary injunction to issue, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating all four of the following elements: (1) that it is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) that the balance of equities tips in its favor; and (4) that an injunction serves the public interest."

Parler failed the first test.


And likely the third and fourth as well. The judge mentions explicitly that they don't think reinstating Parler is in the public interest.

Clearly Parler will suffer irreparable harm here, but they failed by a good margin to meet any of the other tests here.


I think they probably know they have no case but are trying to fan the flames of the culture war to generate support and keep their name in the media until they find other hosting services.


> keep their name in the media until they find other hosting services.

This is the winner right here. It's a rather brilliant play, it keeps reminding their users that they exist. If they can find new hosting before they run out of ways to get in the headlines, they stand a good chance of keeping many of their users.

I would expect to see another wild filing after discovery. They'll find a quote from low-level employees from Amazon and Twitter talking to each other, inflate their credentials so they seem like they have authority, and then make a Sherman Act claim out of it.

I'm curious what lawyer would be willing to file these. The judge even takes the time to point out the places where Parler undermines their own case. This seems like it's just sacrificing your legal career; who would hire you after showing up in court and arguing this with a straight face?


This seems likely. They bring a weak case, and when it gets thrown out, they can say that further proves their victimhood.


Victimhood, the new oil of the 21st century.


The lifeblood of the GOP


Goes even further than that.


True


> you'd have to believe that Amazon's lawyers are so stupid that they set out a TOS for the world's largest hosting provider that didn't give AWS the right to boot customers

I absolutely agree with you. This is as true now as it has ever been, since the earliest days of purely commercial httpd hosting operations in like, 1994 or thereabouts.

Long before the existence of individual virtual machines that anyone with a credit card could rent, hosting companies and colocation/datacenter type places have regularly declined to do business with customers they perceive as toxic, and have ended hosting relationships with customers they no longer wanted.


>To buy Parler's contract claim, you'd have to believe that Amazon's lawyers are so stupid that they set out a TOS for the world's largest hosting provider that didn't give AWS the right to boot customers, which is something AWS --- really, every hosting provider --- has to do all the time.

They haven't released the actual contract itself but from what Parler said in their lawsuit, they had a clause in their contract that if AWS wanted to terminate their contract with cause, AWS would have to give Parler 30 days notice to cure the contract breach or get booted. AWS did not do this instead giving them 24 hours.

Edit:

Reading AWS terms does appear to give them the right to terminate. not ashamed to be proven wrong.

https://aws.amazon.com/agreement/


The contract is the standard Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy to which it refers.

As mentioned above, they don’t have to give you 30 days before suspending for violating the AUP.


Amazon had been warning parlor about their content and lack of moderation for months.


That is not what the contract says (at least from the current lawsuit). Amazon has to formally give a notice that gives them 30 days. Amazon telling Parler that they are violating is not in accordance what most people believe the contract says.

Now it's possible that the contract has some other wording, or that Amazon will argue that they didn't need to be as formal as Parler thinks. But as this goes through the courts, we will find out more.


You don't have to guess about this. The judge cites the AWS terms in the ruling. AWS was not required to give any notice under the circumstances.


A bit off-topic, but after reading this and a few other court decisions (for example in the context of contesting election results), it strikes me that they are pretty well-written.

They provide context for a lay audience, and while their language isn't simple, it is understandable to a non-native speaker like me.

Is this usual? or is it that for such cases with high publicity, the courts select judges that are know as good writers?


This is pretty normal. Judicial decisions are, in general (though not all of this applies to every decision) written to be read by people remote from the decision (either in time or otherwise) and be clear, to justify themselves in the case of appeal, to make clear to the parties what the expectations are of them under them, and to make clear to future courts (including the same court) what was determined and why to support proceedings to enforce, modify, etc., the results.

There’s an extensive body of specialized knowledge and terminology in the law, and a lot of that comes through making short-hand out of bits of decisions or enactments for the convenience of having brevity in reference, but with decisions clarity, both of results and reasoning, is a pretty big goal.


That's fairly normal. It depends on the judge to a degree, as each has their own writing style, but most tend to write fairly clearly like this. I dated a court clerk and asked about the writing style, and was told that they write that way because the parties have a right to understand the court's opinion. Most judges take that to mean that they should write in a manner that a layperson can understand fairly well, because there are members of both parties that are not lawyers, and their case may end up being cited by a pro se plaintiff or defendant (i.e. they are not represented by a lawyer).

> the courts select judges that are know as good writers?

These aren't generally written solely by the judge. The judge's clerk will often draft some or all of it, which the judge can then edit or sign off on. The judge may also consult it with other people or judge's if they want or need to.


It’s really simple. I can decide to do business with you or decide not to do business with you. Also I don’t understand what is preventing Parler from simply hosting a forum? Unless it is because none of the hosting companies want them? So that is it. Let’s stop regurgitating on this forever. Let’s move on.


This case is likely going to be more hairy than AWS wants it to be.


Parler will win in discovery that AWS allowed far more content on Twitter etc without breaching contract - and that staff worked overtime to remove everything AWS had issue with. This was 100% about protecting the Twitter advertising revenue stream to AWS.


Twitter is not hosted in AWS. They just signed the contract, the content hasn’t moved yet.


Amazon did not give Parler time to remedy the issue, which was in the contract. And is now trying to blur the line between a suspension and termination.

Robert Barnes, on the Parler lawsuit https://youtu.be/pAFZw7fGY4A

Viva Frey, a lawyer did a breakdown on the lawsuit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFp5E7akgy8

Robert Barnes, On section 230, and the tech lawsuits https://youtu.be/rD-Zb0nTJw0

Their take on it is that the tech companies have gone too far, and are too arrogant. And now the political climate has shifted. So they will start losing some of these section 230 related cases.


I'm not going to bother watching Youtube videos on this, because the authority I'm citing here is the judge who wrote the ruling in the TRO, citing the AWS contracts that show Amazon was not under the circumstances required to give Parler notice.


Barnes and Frey didn't read the contract closely.

Uncivil Law is a friend of theirs and he goes over the contract here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhWDKx9myI0&t=6187s

He's a conservative lawyer, so he doesn't have a political bias against Parler. They just don't have a case. I think Parler's lawyers misread the contract and thought the 30-day notice applied to termination for cause.


Yeah. Barnes and Frei didn't read the contract at all. They were just going off the court filings. I don't think they were aware of the additional provision about AWS having the right to terminate right after the 30 day suspension notice provision.


As much as I don't like Parler's digital death sentence from Silicon Valley, they should've known this was coming and prepared. It doesn't take a genius to know that such a controversial website is going to get dropped, even if it's just because it makes the webhost look bad.

Yes it's unfair that Twitter gets away with hosting way worse content, but life is unfair, that doesn't mean you stick your head in the sand and pretend the risk of de-platforming never existed.


The premise of Parler directly contravenes the AWS AUP, which demands that companies ensure their users comply with AWS's AUP and that companies kick users that don't. The whole point of Parler is to host Twitter users who violate Twitter's TOS, which is a cohort significantly comprised of people who are also violating AWS's TOS.

To believe that Parler would have been viable on AWS to begin with, they had to actively avoid reading the AWS terms of service. And, I mean, I'm sure they didn't, just like they apparently didn't authorize anonymous HTTP requests for their users assets. The whole effort seems clownish and performative.

In that light, I think I object to the notion of a "digital death sentence". They chose an incompatible provider for the services that they needed, and suffered the consequences. Gab, a service that is objectively far worse than Parler, appears to be doing just fine; in fact, they went through something similar to this after the Tree of Life shooting was planned on their service, and Parler had to have not paid any attention whatsoever to what happened to their most important competitor to have believed they had a chance on AWS.


Does anyone know how the AUP of Amazon and other services interacts with E2E encryption? For example, Signal uses AWS to host many of there servers, if Amazon discovers that people are using Signal to share unsightly content, can the demand that Signal kick those users off the platform? If Signal's processes and technology aren't capable of doing so, can AWS demand they change that?


I think the right mental model to have here is that AWS can boot any customer that becomes problematic for them, including Signal. It seems unlikely that you can skirt their AUP terms by constructing a service that makes it impossible for you to comply with their terms.

Amazon can enforce their contracts selectively. The contract isn't a statute; it's an agreement between two parties. Amazon could presumably strike up a side agreement with a customer that overrode the "master" contract. I'm not a lawyer, but stuff like that happens in consulting somewhat regularly, where you have an MSA governing all your projects, and specific contracts for weird projects.


I get it, companies do not legally have to provide these services to right-wing groups persecuted off of Twitter. I'm saying that it's _morally_ wrong to deplatform.

Not necessarily because I enjoy having this speech hosted, but because isolating and pushing out so called "deplorables" is escalating the current American political conflicts to serious violence.

As I said in my other comment, when the disenfranchised can't speak, they get violent. If you disagree with these people, say that to them. Cutting them off from the mainstream public squares like Twitter and Facebook just creates a new generation of radicals.

Silicon Valley used to stand for freedom of speech for a reason.


> isolating and pushing out so called "deplorables" is escalating the current American political conflicts to serious violence.

Can you provide references that back up this claim?

Bear in mind that the deplatforming began after January 6th of this year, so any escalating violence which may have occurred on or before that point is not evidence of your claim. And after the events of the 6th I imagine it’d be difficult to compose a compelling argument that not deplatforming prevents violence.

In any case, the only news on the topic that I’ve seen has been that election misinformation on Facebook/Twitter has dropped by 70% since the deplatforming happened on those platforms[1]. That isn’t directly about violence, but presumably will result in less alt-right radicalisation, since their ability to reach new people is reduced. Though obviously it’s much too early to have a good understanding of the long-term impact of actions like this.

Which is why I’m so curious about how you’re making statements like this as if they’re plain facts. I’m super interested to see any references you can provide!

[1]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/16/misinfo...


The deplatforming has been going on for years, since at least 2016 when Trump was elected in the first place. In Twitter's case[0] they went after smaller users (edgy "russian bots") until ~2018, when they really ramped things up. This even hit left wing (anti-establishment) activists[1].

One of the conclusions of a recent purge by Reddit was that it just pushed the banned users into even more radical spaces online[2].

Of course we all know about The Streisand effect, and one article suggests that censorship just draws more attention to the banned content[3]. If we assume that ideas are somehow "contagious" or "infectious"[4] then we're just exposing people to them even more.

> In any case, the only news on the topic that I’ve seen has been that election misinformation on Facebook/Twitter has dropped by 70% since the deplatforming happened on those platforms.

But the deplatforming didn't make those people go away, it pushed them to platforms like Gab and Parler, right-wing echo chambers. This is like an extreme version of a filter bubble. Remember, millions of people supported what happened at the capitol[5], and there is zero hope of de-radicalising people if the left and right aren't talking. If anything, both sides will get more extreme.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deplatforming#Twitter (see references)

[1]https://www.wired.co.uk/article/twitter-political-account-ba...

[2]http://comp.social.gatech.edu/papers/cscw18-chand-hate.pdf

[3] https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://th...

[4]https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-020-00546-3

[5]https://www.statista.com/chart/23886/capitol-riot-approval/


> One of the conclusions of a recent purge by Reddit was that it just pushed the banned users into even more radical spaces online[2].

You should re-read it. It offers that as a possibility, with terms like "may" and "could have". It does not conclude it did happen; it notes that some users migrated, but that's not at all surprising.

The hardcore folks are likely to always wind up somewhere, but driving them off Reddit likely makes it more difficult to recruit less initially strident users. As the study indicates, "the ban worked for Reddit".


Actually, there is a lot of weak evidence out there that de-platforming actually worked as intended. It did push some users to more radical spaces, but it also made it very difficult for weakly-interested users to be pushed into the space and become further radicalized. When 'the algorithm' can no longer suggest a slightly more radical version of the content you are currently viewing because that version has been de-platformed then it seems we start to see the norm drift back towards center rather than being pushed further to an extreme.


I think you're agreeing with me?


Yes, probably should have been a bit more clear about my point. It was not just Reddit and I think the evidence is a bit stronger than you hint at. The fundamental problem facing the 'free speech uber alles' crowd is that there is a growing body of evidence that shows how de-platforming works to limit and contain the most violent and toxic online actors.


> But the deplatforming didn't make those people go away, it pushed them to platforms like Gab and Parler, right-wing echo chambers

It has the effect of preventing violent content from using adjacent nonviolent content (i.e. baby and pet pictures, nonviolent political advocacy) on the mainstream platforms as a kind of "human shield".

Of course, this is a disappointment for anyone who finds the normalization of violence-provoking content desirable.

The problem is that there already exist plenty of forums on the internet for non mainstream but non violent speech. The only speech seeking a home is the violent speech.


This is spawning a lengthy subthread but because you asked me, just for the record, I don't care about the competing moral claims. I'm just interested in what the law says here. The moral stuff never seems to converge to any kind of real insight on HN, but the legal stuff has a right and a wrong answer that we can hope to reach by debating it.


It's also _morally_ wrong to plot violent insurrections and publish death threats, and if that's what you're doing, then "deplorable" is an apt description of you.


> If you disagree with these people, say that to them

That doesn't seem to be working in a post-truth world. Not sure what the solution is, but this isn't nearly enough.


We live in a post truth world because of social media algorithms, which made that content successful. I think we need to heavily regulate those ASAP.


Government having the power to dictate which information should be spread more is not less of a problem...


Is it platforming or deplatforming that is causing the escalation though?

When the white nationalists did not have a platform, was the escalation higher or lower than it is now? Granting them platforms seems like the issue that started the escalation to me.


I think a big part of this is accepting Amazon's claims as fact, which I would not. For example, Amazon claims Parler was not moderating when in fact Parler had some pretty strict moderation enforcement. One could make an argument of whether or not it was successful "enough" and you'd have to compare it to other industry leaders like Facebook and Twitter which both have copious amounts of child pornography, calls for violence, etc.

What I've seen is basically some screenshots of some bad posts, which doesn't tell me anything about what was really going on in a very large and complex system.


Parler had some pretty strict moderation enforcement against progressive views, just not against racism, death threats, and successfully planning violent insurrections against the government.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/01/filing-amazon-wa...

Filing: Amazon warned Parler for months about “more than 100” violent threats

[...] Amazon provided "more than 100 additional representative pieces of content" advocating violence on Parler over the following seven weeks, the company said. Another document in the filing (PDF, also with content warning for racial slurs and threats of violence) lays out dozens of examples of posts Amazon reported to Parler, beginning in mid-December. Those posts call for, among other things: killing a specific transgender person; actively wishing for a race war and the murder of Black and Jewish people; and killing several activists and politicians such as Stacey Abrams, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and former President Barack Obama.

Exhibit D (contains racial slurs, etc):

https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.wawd.294664...


I addressed those claims in my last paragraph.


If by "addressed" you mean "mentioned and ignored", then yes.


Here is Twitter failing to protect a sex trafficked child despite multiple written requests. Twitter just signed a very big contract with AWS.

https://uncoverdc.com/2021/01/21/doe-v-twitter-twitter-fails...

Come back to me when AWS drops Twitter's new contract. Then we'll talk about whether or not Twitter has any moderation. We'll discuss whether Twitter is designed specifically to facilitate child trafficking. And every other formulation of this narrative.


Nobody's going to "come back to you" because you're just trolling, not arguing in good faith, so nobody takes you seriously.


The issue there is not that those messages existed somewhere hidden on the platform. It is that Amazon found them and told about them to Parler. Parler refused or was unable to take them down.

The issue is not that someone somwhere posted something bad and Parler merely failed to notice. The issue Amazon claims is that Parler had not done even bare minimum - taking down few dozens of posts that Amazon told them about.


I saw a lot more than screenshots.

I saw a violent insurrection against the US government unfold on live TV, incited by Trump himself, with the goal of overthrowing the results of a fair election, armed sedition justified by disproven lies, which was planned and promoted and published in real time on Parler.

I also saw a map of the GPS data from Parler users who posted live videos and photos of themselves storming the US Capitol and murdering a police officer and attempting to murder Vice President Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

So yeah, there's a lot more evidence than screen snapshots that you're conspicuously ignoring.

https://gizmodo.com/parler-users-breached-deep-inside-u-s-ca...

Parler Users Breached Deep Inside U.S. Capitol Building, GPS Data Shows


Great. Now provide the same analysis for Twitter, Facebook, iMessage, etc. The livestreams I watched which were streamed from within the WhiteHouse during the event were all on Periscope (Twitter).

I have no doubt that some Parler users went into the White House. I haven't seen any evidence that Parler had no moderation. I haven't seen any evidence that Parler was any different than Facebook or Twitter with regard to users planning illegal/violent acts, making violent comments, etc.


You haven't earned the right or respect for me to bother proving anything to you, since you're obviously a troll arguing in bad faith. None of your replies to anyone even bothered to address the points they raised to counter your frivolous arguments. You're as non-sensical and delusional as any of Trump's supporters. The Gish Gallop doesn't work here. Give it up, buddy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gish_gallop


Whether or not your (that is Parler's) statements or Amazon's statements are correct are issues of fact to be adjudicated in the litigation.

From a practical standpoint, your opinion (and mine for that matter, which I haven't expressed for this reason) is irrelevant.

As such, it seems to me that all we can really say is that the judge's refusal to grant the TRO (given the tests[0] applied in deciding such things) while not dismissing the case outright, isn't a positive development for Parler.

Further, the judge's ruling appears to have questioned the legal basis for Parler's claims. That doesn't bode well for them either.

All that said, claiming that one side or the other is factually correct without having all the evidence seems both biased and premature.

I'll wait until the truth comes out. Because in the end, it always does.

[0] https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_65


The document states that Parler agreed they had a massive backlog of reported content to review that "potentially promoted violence". Even Parler isn't making the claim here that they were doing a good job of moderating. They are arguing that it was a breach of contract not to give them more time to fix it.

There's plenty of reason to be skeptical about lots of things. There's plenty of reasons to dislike mainstream social media companies and the large companies that do business with them. But not everything is a conspiracy.


> it was a breach of contract not to give them more time to fix it

spoken as if there is just one cloud hosting provider in the world; it's parlers job to take care of their own security and resilience

Let's say I call Jim's taxi every day, I am his client, and one day Jim refuses to serve me, can I sue him or should I just call another taxi?


Not sure what you're getting at here. I wasn't supporting Parler's lawsuit. I'm simply responding to the parent comment that was claiming that Parler has good moderation.


> It doesn't take a genius to know that such a controversial website is going to get dropped, even if it's just because it makes the webhost look bad.

Parler wasn't dropped for making Amazon look bad. Parler was dropped for repeatedly failing to address blatant terms of service violations.

AWS still hosts the National Enquirer, the magazine that literally tried to blackmail Jeff Bezos. AWS is hardly in the habit of removing sites that make them look bad.

Parler has gained a reputation for being some sort of free-speech platform, but it was anything but. They had heavy-handed moderation that routinely banned people and removed content for not agreeing with the popular sentiment. They made a deliberate choice to continue to leave explicit calls to violence on their website, and they were removed from AWS for it.

Twitter doesn't have perfect execution of their moderation across all of their tweets, obviously, but they are at least making a good faith effort to remove content that has explicit calls to violence.


If you listen to Parler's CEO arguing about being shut down[0] (interview with Megyn Kelly), he was saying that their tech rep at Amazon gave no hints that they were in danger of being shut down. It sounded like they were doing a decent job and they tried to remedy Amazon's issues, but Amazon wanted nothing to do with them anymore.

EDIT: to add, this is just his take. There is obviously 2-sides to the story, so hard to know the full truth here.

[0] https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGh...


Parler's CEO claims were debunked by Amazon, which provided evidence that they warned Parler for months across multiple multiple violations: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/01/filing-amazon-wa...


Your source for "debunking" has a clear conflict of interest, no?


The source is a legal document that amazon would be guilty of perjury for falsifying.


> he was saying that their tech rep at Amazon gave no hints that they were in danger of being shut down

And I wouldn't expect them to do so! They're a tech rep, not a legal rep.


So deplatforming by surprise is okay?

Facebook and Twitter don't own their data centers. If the DCs responded to the same pressure about hosting illegal content, the social media giants would disappear too.

Edit: the downvotes and rate limits are about to push me away from HN for good. This is ridiculous.

My platform is anti-fascism. I'm tired of people on both sides trying to shut down the other side.


No, literally all I'm saying is that a technical support liason at AWS is not going to be in a position to discuss legal issues regarding the customer's account. It's not their job. If AWS operates similarly to most other companies I've worked with, technical support staff are strictly forbidden from discussing legal issues -- that's the responsibility of the legal department.


> Facebook and Twitter don't own their data centers.

Facebook certainly owns quite a few.

https://www.facebook.com/careers/life/facebook-infrastructur...

They lease some, but some are definitely custom built just for them:

https://www.datacenterknowledge.com/facebook/facebook-plans-...


> Facebook and Twitter don't own their data centers. If the DCs responded to the same pressure about hosting illegal content, the social media giants would disappear too.

Not true, they do have own data centers.


Alright, well I will fix the original claim.

Imagine if the power company, that provides the electricity for those data centers decided to stop working with them, tommorow.

Surely, you could recognize the issues with doing this? (Lets ignore common carrier laws for a moment, because it is not relevant to the main thrust of the argument, which is that this would be bad)


> Not true, they do have own data centers.

Which further underscores the perils of architecture built around a central point of failure once more, so far from what I've heard about Parler makes me think it was a den of mainly boomer aged crack-pot Qanon and Trump supporters.

In a way its a lot like 8chan, which also got censored after the last racist shooting, Hotwheels outright condemned this and went on record from the Philippines where he lives now and said he wished he didn't create the thing as the worst things he could ever imagined came out of there in masse, but he had no choice as a person living the US with a disability and no access to medical care and limited employment opportunities.

With that said, I'm indifferent to Qanon BS, and the latest storming of the Capitol underscores how pervasive the cancer that is social media is in deteriorating the social fabric in the US for so many (mainly disenfranchised, and poorly educated people) which makes me want to blame you FAANG types even more. I'm sure Russia and China have a hand in all of this, but that is to be expected after how the US intelligence agencies have weaponized every technology for nearly the entire last century around the World.

But in the end, people have agency and the choice to not use your algo optimized survielence based apps/platforms and fall trap to these abysmal outcomes. And the truth is so many of you people default to the 'If I didn't do it, someone else would' rationalization.

And as I've come to learn in my time in tech, especially in my (limited) time in Silicon Valley, many of you are immigrants on employer sponsored Visas or 1st generation migrants with family back home who need the money to survive, so I can't hate you as a person if that's your situation. I just want to clarify that I hate the system you operate with a passion because it lures you in with the delusion of prestige tied with bloated salaries for focusing your attention on the most pointless, and in modern times clearly dangerous, use of your collective talents and skills at these places when we have so many more real problems to solve.

What I can say is I just sincerely wish you do something worth redeeming you as a Human being as a side project.


You're not anti-fascist if you're sitting here trying to defend the fascists.


> So deplatforming by surprise is okay?

Yes. Abuse and copyright violation doesn't get a pass, so why should extremism?

You take calculated risks in these industries when you're using a service provider. Depends on your goals. Sucks to suck.


This tired argument that Parler is an innocent victim of censorship is so invalid (by so much data) that it seems like a false flag. The moderation of Parler was designed to tailor to one viewpoint: Trumpism. It was an engineering echo chamber for a narrow set of ideologies and naked hate.


bye


adios


What leads you to believe the Parler CEO is a reliable narrator?


100% agree, he has a reason to paint a certain narrative. (I added my edit before you replied I think).

Either way, without knowing the full picture from both sides (like a court case going through discovering to fully put out the communciations between Amazon and Parler), we don't know the answer. We see that Amazon canceled Parler with little external communication. And we see what Parler is saying. Amazon could share what they communicated with Parler (assuming they legally can), then we could see another side to this story.

It would be nice for this court case to go through discovery, then we'll know who said what and when. But until then, we have very imperfect data and have to weigh it as best we can.


They shared it, in their court filing on 12 January:

https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.wawd.294664...

“In mid-November 2020, AWS received reports that Parler was hosting content threatening violence, in breach of the agreement. Executive 2 Decl. ¶ 4. On November 17, 2020, seeking to better understand Parler’s approach to content moderation, AWS provided Parler two representative examples, asked whether “this type of content ... violate[s] [Parler’s] policies,” and asked for “more detailed information on [Parler’s] policies and processes for handling and mitigating” such content. Id. & Ex. D. Two days later, Parler responded that it had referred one of the examples to its “regular contact for investigation.” Id. Ex. D. Over the next seven weeks, AWS reported more than 100 additional representative pieces of content advocating violence to Parler’s Chief Policy Officer, including...”

And some emails, from the Exhibits:

https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.wawd.294664...


I'd be interested to know their response time to remove the content. And how that compares with other social media players.

As well, these are just responses, not actually discovery. I'd be interested exact timelines of things and how emails played out within Parler and within Amazon. Amazon's response is just their take on it trying to justify their own actions.


I've seen a copy of an email exchange between Amazon and Parler from Nov/Dec (which is difficult to Google for at the moment) which was shared publicly.

Amazon bring up some examples of posts that concern them. Parler say they will look at the post that constitute actual threats but have a policy of not removing content like the post that's just a long, content free screed of racial abuse. That alone can easily be considered violation of Amazon's conveniently broad AUP.

Amazon appear not to have chosen to terminate or threaten to at the time, presumably on the basis they were getting plenty of money and relatively little grief for hosting them, but it puts a very different perspective on the idea that Parler was caught completely by surprise, and would have cleaned up everything they could if only they'd had more time and resources.


Note that Parler’s very first reply to AWS defends hate speech and misunderstands the first amendment:

> The first example, as hateful as it is, would not be deemed a violation of our terms of service. Following Nadine Strossen (New York Law School, ACLU), Parler does not ban "hate speech" insofar as it would be protected by the First Amendment.

By the time of the filing, Parler realized this was mistaken on both counts. As noted in the judge’s denial:

> “Parler is not asserting a violation of any First Amendment rights, which exist only against a governmental entity, and not against a private company like AWS. And indeed, Parler has not disputed that at least some of the abusive and violent posts that gave rise to the issues in this case violate AWS’s Acceptable Use Policy.”

Just to underline that first sentence, for end users on Parler, or Twitter, or AWS, “First Amendment rights” are not a thing.


Since he cultivates and tolerates a customer base of Trump supporters, Q-Anon followers, virulent racists, gun nuts, virginal misogynists, frustrated incels, white supremacists, violent seditionists, death threateners, and Twitter rejects, then what reason do you have to believe that he doesn't lie as freely and easily and file as frivolous lawsuits as Trump himself does? What has he ever done to earn so much benefit of the doubt that you're heaping on him, against all the hard evidence we can already see with our own eyes?

Parler Users Breached Deep Inside U.S. Capitol Building, GPS Data Shows

https://gizmodo.com/parler-users-breached-deep-inside-u-s-ca...


Ok but dropping the National Enquirer would make Amazon look even worse.

And keeping National Enquirer doesn't make Amazon "look bad"... you are mixing issues here. National Enquirer itself may not be pro-Amazon, but they'd be that way whereever they are hosted. Their existence on AWS, though, does not impact Amazon one way or the other, because even those who dislike what they publish, aren't generally claiming they should be denied hosting.


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Not everything is a grand conspiracy. Sometimes society really isn't okay with what you're doing.


Also I think dogpiling is often confused, intentionally or not, as conspiracy. It seems like a lot of people really really wanted to drop them but weren't brave enough to make the first move.


I really think this is a significant part of the whole thing. Tech companies are conspiring to ban Trump from their platforms so he cant speak, they just want to do it but dont want the ridiculous backlash from going first.


Exactly, it's not a conspiracy if they're telling you they're doing it: https://twitter.com/Policy/status/1349059276975857664

It's a big club, and you ain't in it.


If society wasn't ok they wouldn't be the most downloaded app.

This is like saying that society wasn't ok with Trump when almost half voted for him.

Trying to rewrite history because there's a Ideological and political control of tech companies doesn't mean you're right.

The same goes for law. Just because something is legal or you don't win a case, it doesn't mean it's right or fair.


Being an especially rabid minority does not make a majority.


I never talked about majorities but I'm not surprised to see the needless adjective.

In my experience, rabid attitudes come up whenever you don't toe conventional lines regarding the good Vs the bad American parties.

You're not allowed to an opinion that's not the right one.


It's not society not being okay with they are doing that makes it intersting.

It's that the subjects of multiple anti-trust probes and companies known for on the down colluding in the past happened to be the ones pulling the plug.

You can argue it was "everyone" having a problem with it, but keep in mind that the Valley is not "everyone". That's the funny thing about conspiracies. Everyone whose in on it flatly denies it, even when it is obvious.

Not saying there was one mind. Just pointing out that assuming "management in the Valley" who have go/no-go on firing customers equates to "everyone" not being okay with it. It does not build confidence to many when unilateral decisions by execs shape the landscape for everyone else. Also yes, some of that population who aren't okay with that likely buy in to more conspirarial thought as well. Doesn't change the facts of the matter.


Similar to how a car accident is interesting, perhaps. My wife checked out the site just to see if it was really that bad. She concluded it was. No doubt many installed it for the same reason.


You'll find that large corporations tend to average out to having fairly similar thresholds for "oh, these guys can fuck right off from our service".

No conspiracy is needed. Same thing happens in neighborhoods - assholes tend to get a reputation as "the asshole neighbor" pretty rapidly. There doesn't have to be a neighborhood meeting to decide this; it just happens.


Do you have a source for it reaching that rank?

Iirc it was dropped from the two app stores about 12h apart.


> Twitter doesn't have perfect execution of their moderation across all of their tweets, obviously, but they are at least making a good faith effort to remove content that has explicit calls to violence.

Isn't that mainly due to their amount of revenue? Are newer services supposed to be shut down because they can't(yet?) compete with Twitter on budget for moderation?


Moderation scales with the size of the site. Obviously a tiny little web forum with a few dozen users isn't expected to have a Twitter-sized moderation team -- but if you're at a few million users and growing fast, you're expected to have some plans in place.


That sounds good on paper, but what happens when your revenue doesn't closely correlate with the number of users? Hypothetically, a site can have a million users but have a shoestring budget. On the other side of the scale, Twitter not only has the support structure to mass moderate but they have investors providing millions of dollars. Hiring a full time moderator isn't trivial; it's thousands a year per person, which can be tough for a website that operates on mere thousands to even a few million.


> That sounds good on paper, but what happens when your revenue doesn't closely correlate with the number of users?

I mean, moderation or no moderation, your overall costs are going to roughly correlate with your number of users. If you can't come up with some kind of revenue stream -- be it subscriptions, advertising, or donations -- your site is going to be a money pit.

Besides, depending on what kind of site you're operating, moderation can sometimes be managed by volunteers. Some high profile sites like 4chan make that work pretty well. But it depends on having dedicated volunteers who can agree to enforce rules, which isn't always easy.


> but what happens when your revenue doesn't closely correlate with the number of users?

Then you stop chasing growth at all costs or you go under/lose business partnerships/etc. Sounds like the free market to me - I don't get the idea that a business is entitled to existence no matter what, whether or not it can afford to pay labour (or even get enough volunteers) to do its work.


> but what happens when your revenue doesn't closely correlate with the number of users?

Then you're fucked, because you overextended past your available resources, and you crash and burn.


It's worth noting how much soft power the political left in America has, despite being about 50% of voters.

Hollywood, Silicon Valley, academia, and the news media all lean left. This means you should expect to have an uphill battle if you want to do anything in these areas that might counter their preferences.

I think all this soft power actually hurts the left in America, because our country's default state is a bit of an echo-chamber. It's possible to go to university, watch movies, read the news everyday, and have no idea what the other half of the country is thinking or saying.


It's worth noting how much actual political power the right in America has, despite being about 50% of voters.

The Senate and electoral college favor them massively. This means you should expect to have an uphill battle if you want to change any laws that might counter their preferences.


A business that is heavily involved with local government has to sweat Republican politics, a business that is heavily involved with technology, the media, or other forms of nonstate power has to sweat Democrat politics. I guess it would be nice if companies could simply focus on getting their job done and not have to sweat anyone's politics at all.


Politics is the the practice of how to organize society. There's no such thing as an apolitical entity. At the most basic level, just the fact that corporations exist is itself a political decision.


Sure, with a sufficiently expansive definition of political everything is, but in the comment above, "politics" meant "dealing with the preferences of." So the local Republican politician would want stuff if you wanted to build your chemical plant, maybe a new baseball field, maybe campaign contributions. Your Democrat-aligned hosting provider would want you to not run the center of operations of their enemies. You are using politics in the academic sense, where two kids playing tag are engaging in politics, but that is not the only thing that "politics" can be used to describe. Companies should follow the law, not politics.


Companies should do what their owners want per capitalism. If that's politics, the company should do politics.


Sure, but the political system should not be such that the owners of the companies have anything to gain by wanting their companies to do politics.


The only way that could ever be the case is if taxes ceased to exist. Until that point, there will always be lobbying for lower taxes.

Your objection really seems to be engagement in culture wars.


Companies have to obey laws and laws are written by politicians. Unless you think companies should be above the law they cannot, and should not be expected to, avoid thinking about politics.


Thinking about the law is a world away from thinking about politics. Companies should think about how to comply with regulations, but they should not be biting their nails over whether the candidate who's backing their chemical plant will give a speech about Marijuana decrimininalization that's convincing enough to secure him the position necessary to force the local regulatory body to change the acceptable limits on effluents so that it becomes possible to continue running a process on an old line.


It sounds like you are suggesting that regulations should never change. Is that what you mean?


No. That is not what the other person said.

Did you accidently respond to the wrong comment?

What the person said was that a chemical manufacturing company should not be "biting their nails" over some random Marijuana decrimininalization speech, that a random candidate is making.


At the end he was talking about changing the rules on effluents. I guess I just doing understand what he is trying to say.


Why should the rules on effluents be related to marijuana policy? They shouldn't be. Why are the rules on effluents related to marijuana policy? Because politics works according to public sentiment attached to individual leaders and their parties, and the leaders and parties bundle together large packages of unrelated policies. Hence a chemical plant owner becomes interested in issues that have absolutely nothing to do with his businesses, or even his business' externalities.


It would be nice if it were possible to be apolitical but in many respects it isn't depending on the nature of your business and that's a reality I think some people are reticent to accept. Corporations exist to make money and there isn't an industry out there that doesn't actively lobby in their interest.

Turns out being `apolitical` is kind of a myth.


Banning speech by half the population is not "soft power" anymore in the world we live in.


When did half the population have their speech banned?


The whole argument is so silly. Trump could snap a finger and have cameras ready to air on national TV whatever he wanted to say.

If Valve bans me from Steam for my language is that also violation of my free speech or is it their right to protect their platform?


Worth noting that Valve is one of the few companies that makes a conscious effort in favor of freedom of speech. They refuse to moderate for ideological reasons and not just cost.


> snap a finger and have cameras ready to air on national TV

You do realize both ABC and CNN literally went live and said they won't air his speech, right?


God I hope so. He got his 15 minutes his whole wasted life.


It depends - is Valve also claiming liability protection under section 230 as a information service provider?


Being an information service provider with Section 230 protection doesn't obligate that provider to allow anyone to post anything.


No, but it should make the platform similar to a public square. Taking a government grant of liability protection should come with obligations to the public.


> Taking a government grant of liability protection should come with obligations to the public.

Why? That's a serious question.

The reason liability protections exist for information services is because information services can't exist without them. It's not possible for an information service provider to be strictly liable for what their users post while having anything like a reasonable quality of service or cost. Think 10 hour moderation queues to post on Instagram, which costs $15/month, and requires using your driver's license or other photo ID to sign up so they can forward libel suits to you.

Requiring strict liability on the part of information service providers will likely drastically reduce the amount of free speech. Because they're going to aggressively take down/reject anything that has the slightest possibility of them getting sued. They won't suddenly morph into the town square because an unmoderated Internet town square is a filthy, ugly place that repels users and advertisers and hurts the bottom line.


"Requiring strict liability..." which is why I did not write that.

I would propose that moderation decisions be logged and reviewable on demand (at the plantiff's cost) in front of a reputable arbitrator of the platform's choice.


I have no idea if this is a good idea or not. If it makes some plaintiffs feel better that they're being heard, great. But I don't believe it would substantially alter the status quo. Anyway, you do you my friend.


Is that even possible at any sort of scale?


if the plantiffs pay, I think so. All the platforms would need to do is log the moderation decisions they already make.


> is Valve also claiming liability protection under section 230 as a information service provider?

What part of Section 230 do you think had any bearing on the issue being discussed?


Section 230 is a valuable grant of liability protection, and thus morally obligates platforms to act as a public forum. At the very least, moderation decisions should be written down and reviewable by a third party. The law should be reformed to reflect that.


> Section 230 is a valuable grant of liability protection, and thus morally obligates platforms to act as a public forum.

That makes no sense, since the entire, explicit purpose of Section 230 was to free platforms from preexisting disincentives si that they could be free to “restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected” without incurring liability that would otherwise attend such editorial control.

You are literally suggesting that the price of Section 230 protection ought to be not doing the things to which Section 230 protection applies in the first place.

Also, I think it's wrong, in any cases, to think of Section 230 as a special grant of liability protection, any more than the preexisting different liability of distributors from that of publishers is a special grant. It's a recognition that online media enables models that would not be practical with the media for which the traditional liability roles for content developed, and that venues for content which wasn't pre-screened in detail but over which largely reactive editorial control was exercised was all of technically and economically practical on the internet, inconsistent with the premises of the classic publisher vs. distributor liability analysis, and already, at the time the Act was considered, starting to be stifled by application of the traditional publisher vs. distributor rules. We don't force bookstores to be neutral platforms to be free of publisher liability, because we recognize that bookstores aren't naturally going to be pre-screening content at the detailed level print publishers will, and it doesn't make sense to stifle them by forcing them to. 230 is the same idea, just for a business activity that didn't exist when the common law of liability was evolving.


That's why section 230 needs to be re-written. I'm fine with moderation, and I'm fine with sites that publish user-generated content defining their own content rules. What I'm not fine with are rules that are unevenly enforced in order to play favorites. I would reform section 230 so say that you must post the site's user-generated content rules, and you must post a moderation log. The moderation log would consist of the list of moderation actions taken and the accounts affected, and the time. Any moderation action that appears to not align with the stated content policy should be reviewable by a third party accredited arbitrator, at the plantiff's expense. The net effect of this scenario would be to cause the sites to write down detailed rules about content, and enforce them fairly on all sides. Right now there are simply too many flagrantly biased or inaccurate moderation decisions on these sites, and many of them seem to be motivated by political or economic reasons. It's one thing to ask that sites be the "public square" because of the huge gift of liability protection that section 230 grants. This argument has not held up in courts. It's a totally different thing to require sites play by their own rules, and hold them accountable for each hypocritical moderation action that genuinely hurts the "little guy"


That'd be true, if it happened.

Plenty of conservatives left on Twitter.


One set of influencers is elected and held to account, the other is largely unaccountable.


First, the first set isn't a set of influencers. They directly legislate law.

Second, the other is accountable to the same laws as anyone else.


> One set of influencers is elected and held to account

Are they, though?

> the other is largely unaccountable

No the market will hold them to account.


The Senate is split 50-50, but the 50 Democrats represent 41 million more people than the 50 Republicans:

https://twitter.com/AriBerman/status/1352293847385124864

If voting in this country wasn't suppressed at the local level by Republican state governments, the federal government would look very different. It would be much more diverse and representative of real Americans, not just white male Americans.


The Democratic Presidential candidate has won the popular vote in the last 7 of 8 Presidential elections[0], with the Dems having, on average, about 5 million more votes for those 8 elections. It's empirically fair to say the right represents about 45% of voters (which makes their power even more noteworthy).

[0] year,dem_candidate,dem_votes,gop_candidate,gop_votes

1992,Bill Clinton,44909806,George H. W. Bush,39104550

1996,Bill Clinton,47401185,Bob Dole,39197469

2000,Al Gore,50999897,George W. Bush,50456002

2004,John Kerry,59028444,George W. Bush,62040610

2008,Barack Obama,69498516,John McCain,59948323

2012,Barack Obama,65915795,Mitt Romney,60933504

2016,Hillary Clinton,65853514,Donald Trump,62984828

2020,Joe Biden,81268867,Donald Trump,74216747


The electoral college actually favored Biden this time. He got 57% of EC votes, which is much higher than his share of the popular vote.

This is all pointless anyway for a union of states. Germany is underpowered compared to Luxembourg in the EU by design -- the same is true in the US. Should California ever go back to being conservative, as it was until Clinton, it will disadvantage Republicans just the same.


> The electoral college actually favored Biden this time

I think we're operating on different definitions of "favored". The definition I'm using (and which most of the English-speaking world uses) is "have a fundamental advantage". He won the electoral college narrowly. He won the popular vote handsomely. That's a sign of a thumb on the scale in a pretty fundamental way.


> He won the electoral college narrowly. He won the popular vote handsomely.

He didn't though. He won 57% of the electoral vote and 51% of the popular vote.


Another way of looking at it though, is he won the electoral college by a margin of 40k votes (the margin of victory in the states that mattered). He won the popular vote by a margin of 7m votes.


You're a pretty famous person, so we know you are smart enough to know that nothing above 50% matters.

"Favor" only matters to extent it helps a candidate get over 270 EV.


Sorry, you're saying the US should be more like the EU?


50 Senators are Democrats or caucus with them, and the Electoral college just put a Democrat in the White House -- so you can't really make such a claim with a straight face.


I said "favors". The 50 Democratic Senators represent 40m more people than the 50 Republican Senators. It's far easier for the balance to tip right than left.

The electoral college was decided by about 40k votes this time, and about 80k votes last time. The popular vote margin was in the millions. That should tell you something about how far the EC is from reality.


"popular vote" has absolutely no bearing on anything in this discussion. The US is not a direct democracy, it is a representative republic.

The 50 senators who represent semi-conservative states represent the same number of states as the 50 who represent more liberal states.


> The US is not a direct democracy, it is a representative republic.

I'm aware of that. And that structure favors one side more than another. This is not a controversial statement - the numbers (y'know, facts and logic) back that up.

States are lines on a map. In the current setup they have more influence than the actual people living in those states. Do you seriously not see how that can lead to disproportionate representation of some views?


So in a one world government China and India should decide what's best for the rest of the world... Got it.


That's a good argument against having a one-world government. Do you want a one-world government? I don't.


> States are lines on a map.

Saying this doesn't make them less important, it just shows a childish attitude. Local and State governments and representation are important parts of the Republic.

Dollars are just numbers in a database. Will you give me all your money? Or is it only certain "made-up" things that are important to you?

> Do you seriously not see how that can lead to disproportionate representation of some views?

Yes, and straight up popular vote leads to the same thing. That's why we have a system that is a combination of popular vote and state vote.

* The People are represented by the House.

* The States are represented by the Senate.

* Both are represented by the President.

Seems like a well-balanced system to me.


> Local and State governments and representation are important parts of the Republic

Why? What even is a state, if not its people? What even is a local or state government, if not the people in the city or state? Can you even have a state or a state government if there are no people in the state?

What's special about the state or state government specifically that it should get its representation separate from the people it governs? Are the state or state government's aims and objectives different from the people of the state? If so, why, and what legitimacy does it have? If not, why have it represented?

Moreover, if this was really and actually true, why was the 17th Amendment passed? Why aren't senators still chosen by state legislatures, or nominated by governors and confirmed by legislatures? Why does the state get represented twice (Senate and EC) but the people only get represented once? Isn't that an imbalance?

> Seems like a well-balanced system to me.

Because it favors your side. You'd be singing a different tune if it was the other way around.


> What's special about the state or state government specifically that it should get its representation separate from the people it governs?

The United States is a union of states. The people have representation at the federal level, and the state level.

> Are the state or state government's aims and objectives different from the people of the state? If so, why, and what legitimacy does it have? If not, why have it represented?

No. The people of the state are the state, not the government of the state. Again, the state gets representation because we are a union of states. And local governments get representation at the state level. There are many concerns of a people, and we have people representing those concerns at different levels of government, from local to state to federal. Otherwise we could just have a single person represent everyone.

> Why does the state get represented twice (Senate and EC) but the people only get represented once? Isn't that an imbalance?

The People are represented twice as said before (House and EC). The EC is the House + Senate. So no, it's not an imbalance.

> Because it favors your side. You'd be singing a different tune if it was the other way around.

I don't have a side. I vote for policies that I agree with, which has changed over time. Party support of certain issues has changed over time as well.

I am pretty tired, however, of people crying about foundational aspects of my country because they lost an election. I think the increasing concentration of power in the federal government is a bad idea.


> people crying about foundational aspects of my country because they lost an election

It's more a genuine concern that continuing on this path will result in a federal government whose policies don't reflect the views of the vast majority of the nation. You can already see this on issues such as cannabis.

> The People are represented twice as said before (House and EC)

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree that the EC adequately represents the people, since it takes the Senate numbers into account.


States are sovereign entities that made a choice years ago to join together in a federal union. The parameters of that union are spelled out in the Constitution -- you remove that Constitution at peril of the continued existence of that union.

Amendments, like the 17th, are one way to change that union, with the consent of those members of it -- but if you push too far there won't be a union any more, because a portion of those states will walk away from a union no longer defined as they define it.


> if you push too far there won't be a union any more, because a portion of those states will walk away from a union

As the lopsidedness of representation grows ever more pronounced, it increases the probability that federal law and policy will diverge significantly from the views of the majority of the nation. This will likely increase disenchantment with the federal government even further, which is just as great a danger to the union. Surely you agree that this situation isn't ideal either, even if the Constitution says it's supposed to be like that?


They already have.

If the people don't want things to be that way, they can pass amendments to change it.


They can't though. The states that would lose representation have the most incentive to block amendments. Amendments aren't done by referenda.


Amendments are done by the consent of 2/3s of the states, as is spelled out in the document that governs the union of such states.

If you don't want to call that a "referenda", I think you're incorrect, but it doesn't really matter.


States != people. People have to vote directly in order for it to be considered a referendum.


It's a referendum of the states, as was agreed to by the states when the union was formed.

It doesn't have to be people voting directly. It shouldn't be.


Seem more accurate to say:

  * electoral districts are represented by the House [0]
  * states are represented by the Senate
which then begs the questions

  * who represents the people as a whole (if anyone) ?
  * who or what does the President represent?
[0] since representatives are elected solely by the voters within a district, with no reference to voters in any other district.


> , it just shows a childish attitude

So that you can understand how your contribution is being consumed by others: when I came to that sentence fragment I stopped reading and down-voted your post. The remainder of your contribution might have been insightful... but I'll never know.


Yeah, the obvious thing is to split LA, and New York into 5 different states each, so that the liberals gain more power in the senate.

The state level representation of the senate is very arbitrary


I think the constitution bans splitting states. I was looking into combining the dakotas and it doesn't seem possible because of that clause.


And then TX will split into five states.

We can do that all day to no real effect.


This is false. The left now has the Senate and the Presidency.

The electoral college does not matter. They go the way their states go as was made quite clear in the last election.

EDIT: Of course it matters how the voting system was designed. The EC votes the way their State votes.

The forefathers intended for states to have some say in the matter. We are a representative democracy. That is how the system was designed.


You can not seriously argue the EC doesn't matter when the republicans have won the popular vote once since 1988 yet have held the presidency for 3 terms.


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What do you mean by saying that democrats took over the post office? I assume you mean the USPS? The postmaster general was appointed by Trump. The senate until just last week had a Republican majority. Exactly how did the Democrats exercise power to "take over"?


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The Democrats wanted the USPS to deliver the mail. They also wanted people to be able to vote through the mail because we are in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years. This is different from treating the USPS as a general voting system.

You are arguing that the Democrats cheated more than the Republicans, or "better". Do you have any evidence of this? This needs to be evidence from the past election, not Chicago in 1962 or something.


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Does “clearly” mean you have evidence? It sounds like your argument is that everyone will cheat if they have the chance.


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> Most people will cheat in high stakes games.

Citation required.

> I cannot possibly prove any of this to you.

So why bother saying it?


You have no evidence of cheating in this election that has been accepted by any court.

You have no evidence that USPS function "favored" Democrats.

You are perpetuating the lies that have been told by the former president and his supporters for the last 2+ months.


> Each state gets numbers by its population.

This is false, and the core of the criticism of the EC. Each state gets 2 votes independent of its population, which is biased toward small population states, and for over a century the definition of states was constrained by a compromise to protect slavery.


California has more electors than Vermont.


A hypothetical state with 3 people, if admitted to the Union, would have the same number of electors as Wyoming. Clearly sheer numbers are meaningless. And you know that, you just want to argue in bad faith.


Vermont supports abolishing the Electoral College.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Popular_Vote_Intersta...


You're still missing the point. The lowest number of electors a state can have is three. Mathematically, this biases the EC in favor of low population states.

The same approach (all states having two senators) biases the Senate in favor of low population states.

This appears to have been intentional on the part of the founders, but that doesn't make it right.

[ EDIT: s/two/three/ ]


Yes it was designed for this purpose. That's what I'm saying.

So big states couldn't bully around small ones.


In just a few years, 30% of the US population will be responsible for electing 70% of the Senate.

How is that not "bullying"?

How does that play any role in an actual democratic nation, as opposed to some pre-Lincoln concept of the US a series of independent states merely "unioned"? The answer is obvious: it doesn't.


I guess it's better for small states to bully around big ones instead?


623,989/3 = 207996.333333

39,510,000/55 = 718363.636364


So what? That's the point.


You might have had a minimal argument pre-17th Amendment, but that's not how the world works any more.

In addition, there's 0 reason for the house to be as malapportioned as it is. 435 house members isn't written in the constitution.

Third, the entire concept of smaller states having an outsized voice in the federal government comes from the slave owners from the South in 1789. There's no rational basis for it any longer.

People like to pretend the founders were deities and the constitution is handed down from god. But they weren't and it wasn't. A lot of their ideas were really stupid. I mean JFC, we couldn't even get through 3 elections before they had to redo it.

Vermont has a lot more in common these days with California than it does North Dakota. The EC and Senate are outmoded relics from a stupider time that should be abolished.


>Third, the entire concept of smaller states having an outsized voice in the federal government comes from the slave owners from the South in 1789. There's no rational basis for it any longer.

No. It had to do with Connecticut, New Jersey and other small population states who wouldn't have ratified the Constitution unless there was state representation (as we have in the Senate) to balance out the representation by population (cf. The Connecticut Compromise[0]).

The southern states had (or expected to have) large populations, and as such, wanted representation by population.

History and facts matter.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_Compromise


> The southern states had (or expected to have) large populations

The Southern States were underrepresented in the Senate compared to the House by the initial apportionment in the Constitution, represented at very close to the same ratio in each House in the apportionment for the 1790 Census (largely reflecting that they had been overrepresented relative to population, in the House, in the Constitutional apportionment), and substantially overrepresented in the Senate compared to the House after the 1800 Census.

They were well aware of the imminent demographic trends and acted accordingly.

> History and facts matter.

Indeed they do, but the history and facts aren't on the side of “the Southern States had large initial and expected future populations as counted for apportionment in the House and, so by-State representation in the Senate was contrary to, rather than designed to serve, their regional interest.”


>The Southern States were underrepresented in the Senate compared to the House by the initial apportionment in the Constitution, represented at very close to the same ratio in each House in the apportionment for the 1790 Census (largely reflecting that they had been overrepresented relative to population, in the House, in the Constitutional apportionment), and substantially overrepresented in the Senate compared to the House after the 1800 Census.

That's orthogonal to the concerns of small population states, in 1787, when the Connecticut Compromise was adopted.

What's more, the results of 1790 and 1800 Censuses didn't impact support or opposition to that compromise, as they hadn't been performed yet.

>by-State representation in the Senate was contrary to, rather than designed to serve, their regional interest.”

Which is the flip-side of the coin to what I said.


> The left now has the Senate and the Presidency.

The key term is "now". After getting about 40m more votes. Be honest. Is that balanced?


Was just pointing out it's quite clear that the nation itself is left leaning. That's honest by the numbers.

To say the Republicans have any kind of advantage right now except for maybe the courts is incorrect.


They had to lose by 7 million votes to actually lose, I would say they have quite advantage.

As another user said: "The Senate is split 50-50, but the 50 Democrats represent 41 million more people than the 50 Republicans"


We are a representative democracy for a reason. It was designed that way.

You can't change the rules of the game because you're losing.

The United States was designed as a representative democracy on purpose by the forefathers. That is fact.


> We are a representative democracy

And the argument is that this democracy isn't sufficiently "representative", since it doesn't represent everyone equally. Indeed that's an explicit non-goal.

> You can't change the rules of the game because you're losing.

But you can agree that the rules of the game are rigged against one side. You don't get to deny that just because you're winning.


Just because something was designed for a specific purpose a few hundred years ago doesn't mean it serves that same purpose today. Situations change. The Constitution was designed to be amended.


"representative democracy" does not require the structure of the US senate, nor state districting policies, nor the electoral college.

There are many other representative democracies that do not have any of these "features".

Also, I thought a reply ago, you stated that the left was winning, not losing.


It was designed to be unfair. The small states threw a fit at the constitutional convention so now we're stuck with this bs. Why does representative democracy mean some people are more represented than others? Why can't everyone be equally represented in a representative democracy?


Right? "We are a representative democracy" is some Orwellian doublespeak. It leaves out "But some people are more represented than others."


"All votes are representative, but some votes are more representative than others."


You bring up Orwell. Both sides can get to extremism pretty easily. Both conservatives and liberals easily become dictators. Power corrupts everyone.

This has nothing to do with Orwell. Im not sure why you bring him up.

The forefathers designed the system this way. I agree with the way it was designed. It prevents big states like California and New York from calling all the shots.

I agree with the forefathers. You do not. Simple.


> Im not sure why you bring him up.

Because saying "it's a representative democracy" is doublespeak. If you have one person representing tens of millions and another person representing a small city (~150k people), and they have the same vote, it's not meaningfully "representative". Saying "it's a representative democracy" doesn't tell you anything about the fairness of the system.

> I agree with the way it was designed.

Because it favors you. It would be a bad system even if it was the other way around (i.e. it favored the other side).

> It prevents big states like California and New York from calling all the shots.

I'm still to hear a good argument for why it's better for small states to call shots instead.

> I agree with the forefathers. You do not. Simple.

I'm fine with that. They were as fallible as anyone else and could not have foreseen that their system might have flaws. There's no need to deify them and think that everything they did was right.


The electoral college absolutely does matter and absolutely does favor right wing politicians (for now). Every state gets a minimum of three electoral votes regardless of their population, so as a result, a single vote in a sparsely populated state like Wyoming has up to four times the influence that a single vote in a densely populated state like NJ has. The current political make-up of the country is such that right-wing politicians find far greater support in rural areas and thus are favored by the electoral college. So far only right-wing politicians have managed to win the electoral college without winning a majority in the popular vote.

Similar logic applies to the Senate: regardless of population every state gets two senators. Right-wing senators have received fewer actual votes (by individual voters) than left-wing senators for years, yet in that time right-wing control of the senate has been more common than left-wing control. Right now the split in the Senate is 50-50 (Vice President, a Democrat, breaks the tie) but the total number of votes cast for Democratic senators was much higher than the number cast for Republicans.

You literally have to deny reality when you deny that the electoral college and the senate represent a structural advantage for Republicans right now.


Reality is that the Dems own the entire congress and the presidency right now.

Reality is we are representative democracy. The forefathers deliberately designed it that way.

Reality must line up with your arguments. It does not.

If what you say is true, Trump would most likely be president right now.

Dems own entire cities with the largest population centers. Dems have better organized grassroots. Dems have California and New York, the main stream media.

What advantages you speak of are moot compared to those ones.

We are a representative democracy and we always have been.


Yes, we should change the system. It was a compromise that is now well outdated.


Appreciate your honesty even if I disagree. I like the way it is setup. It stops the big states from pushing around the little ones too much.


The entire premise of a republic is that power is checked and balanced. The aim is not to represent the "will of the people", because the will of a majority is frequently to oppress a minority.

The EC was more than a compromise, it was an integral part of a system that prevents too much power being handed to any one institution or demographic. And forcing national candidates to appeal to a multitude of states rather than a handful of cities has a moderating effect.

If anything, what's outdated about the EC is we need more checks on the political influence that is centralized in cities because the founders didn't anticipate urbanization.


And the current system allows the minority to oppress the majority. I don't see how that is better. What we actually need is ranked choice or proportional representation so that we can have more than 2 parties.


If it were a dichotomy as you suggest, it might also be worth looking at why “conservative” or “right” leaning groups have not made inroads in these areas.

I believe it is because to be break out successful in any medium that demands an array of skill you must not discriminate against people: The company must not have or create a forum for a culture of exclusion.

That is to say, it should not matter if a person is gay if they are skilled in acting, coding or teaching. They are welcomed for their talent.

However, these “right leaning” groups typically are at best on the back foot of accepting the reality of diversity. And are often financially backed by people who seek to make laws that restrict the freedom of others to protect some existing homogeneous power structure.

So lack of traction in these industries is because you can’t constrict the talent pool to fit a narrow idea of what a completely equally protected human is and expect to get enough talent to be very successful.


Down voters might find my comment above as not a new idea: The Economist began advocating for Gay Marriage in 1996.

This 2004 article includes discussion of the benefits of acceptance: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2004/02/26/the-case-for-ga...


Hold on, they lean Democrat, not "Left." I know it sounds pedantic, even subjective, but it's very important to point out that the Democrats are pro-business, not particularly pro union, they are pro Wall Street, and they generally are pro Defense spending and engaged in wars abroad in every term going back thirty years. The fact that they talk about race and gender could arguably make them "culturally left" which very much makes them feel left-wing, even radical to some. A European, or almost anyone else in the world would call them centrists or center-right.

Silicon Valley is right-wing on economics and defense of monopoly, and left when you talk about race and gender equity in the board room.

You can see echoes of this on HN where many people support restrictions of speech if they come from a private platform ("laissez-faire" approach to private property), but still call for a shut down of hate speech and a correction of "misinformation".

The Democrats' cultural mores center around postmodernist principles of "language makes reality" "there are power imbalances" "the power imbalances intersect around race and gender" and finally "correcting how we talk about these topics will help the marginalized." ... But, we're reminded, Twitter and AWS and Facebook are private property, and you should read and follow the TOS ("laissez-faire").


not to take away from your point and be too pedantic, but i think maybe left and liberal are being conflated?

actual bonafide leftists have very little real political power in ths u.s afaik...


Yeah, as far as I can tell, America doesn't have any meaningful left-wing politics of any kind. There's not a single left politician elected to any federal office anywhere in the nation, for example.

Hollywood (the industry funded by the US Military to put pro-military-industrial-state advertisements into movies) is not "left leaning" in any meaningful way. "News Media" all lean either slight-right (MSNBC, NPR) to hard-right (Fox News, NYT, WSJ). Silicon Valley is primarily driven by right-leaning "libertarian" conservative types (at both big corps and small startups). Democrats are largely all conservative (in that, Democrats of 2021 mostly all hold identical views to what Republicans used to hold in the year 1998)

We do have a few centrist politicians and groups (Bernie Sanders / AOC+Squad, etc), and a few centrist movements (rights for LGBTQ+, or "Defund the Police", for example, is largely politically-centrist initiatives).

But I'm not aware of even a single left-leaning politician in any federal elected office. For example, no elected federal politician is advocating for the nationalization of all private corporations, or elimination of all for-profit entities, or for a complete cap on individual wealth, or for giving Hawaii back to the aboriginal Hawaiians, or anything like that, that could be considered a full-left position. (But meanwhile, on the right, there is a meaningful ultra-far-right political movement arguing that we should ignore replace democratically-elected officials with dicatorships, for example. And that group has elected members sitting in the House + Senate today)


> But I'm not aware of even a single left-leaning politician in any federal elected office. For example, no elected federal politician is advocating for the nationalization of all private corporations, or elimination of all for-profit entities, or for a complete cap on individual wealth, or for giving Hawaii back to the aboriginal Hawaiians, or anything like that,

so, given this, that NPR is right-leaning, and bernie/AOC are 'centrist', am I correct in your assessment that basically just about only bolshevism counts as 'left'?


Not an American, but

> NPR is right-leaning

Yes.

> bernie/AOC are 'centrist'

Yes. Though I would describe Sanders as left-of-centre (apart from her stance on the environment, Ocasio-Cortez is quite the centrist).

> am I correct in your assessment that basically just about only bolshevism counts as 'left'?

No. There is an entire range of actual leftist politics and economics that Americans tend to utterly refuse to engage with in good faith - the Cold War really did a number on that country's collective sense of a political spectrum. Left/right are instead essentially reduced to only being about social issues like abortion or LGBTQ rights, with some lip service paid to the environment.

"Imperialist capitalism, but make the marginal tax rate somewhat higher and appoint more minorities" is not leftism.


I don't know why this is getting downvoted. As an American, all of the above seems completely correct.


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See, this is the exact refusal to engage in good faith that I'm talking about. The red scare really did do a number on y'all.

Geopolitically speaking, opposition to colonialism and imperialism (and their neo- variants) are generally considered to be leftist ideals. Internationalism skews left and globalism skews right, despite American conservatives' pearl-clutching in that regard. Decentralisation of power (with the extreme including advocating for anarchic/acephalous societies) also skews heavily left, with the flaw that without strong systems this often leads to the re-centralisation of power in the hands of one or a few (conversely, hierarchism which skews heavily right often leads to codification of power in de facto aristocracies).

Economically, capitalism is unambiguously a right-wing economic theory (note that capitalism is not the same think as markets - another thing that people would rather remain cheerfully ignorant about). If your politico-economic system involves capitalism, you'd be very hard pressed to describe it as anything further left than centrist at best (as most mixed economies are). Actual leftist economics would include the somewhat vague blob that is left-libertarianism, encompassing everything from Georgism (often criticised as capitalism lite) to syndicalism, mutualism, anarcho-collectivism and the (of particular interest to me) various schools of African socialism. Opposition to capital/private ownership/wage theft takes many forms, not only that of the communist bogeyman.

Why do people want to think of themselves/be thought of as being on the left so badly when they're completely unwilling to actually engage with what leftism means?


I noticed that instead of responding to my examples of actual leftist governments, with a series of your own examples of major leftist governments that are "not super evil", or are more fair examples, you instead responded with general ideals.

Yeah, no. If someone is going to call AOC or Bernie Sanders as "centrists", then I am going to need you to point to an actual, real life example of a true "leftist" government to understand wtf you are talking about.

Examples are needed so you can't make a bunch of stuff up, and wash you hands with the actual, real life examples of how your "ideals" turned out in real life.

> unwilling to actually engage with what leftism means

Hey, I did try to give examples of actual leftist governments, so we can evaluate how those real life, not made up in your head, examples actually turned out.

When talking about this stuff, the only actual thing that I will except is real life examples of your ideal government. Because, if I don't do that, then leftists will just make a bunch of stuff up, that is not grounded in reality.

Unfortunately the gap in what a leftist will claim that they want, and how they claim things will turn out is miles and miles away different from how actual leftist governments attempt to implement their ideals.


The left-right spectrum is, literally, about ideals - social, political, economic. It is not a scale of "good vs evil", despite what Calvinism has imposed on people's brains. If your stance is that leftism is evil, you are entirely free to say or think so, but it still does not change what the ideals of leftism are, and it still doesn't make trying to change the definitions of those ideals so that you can call yourself/others leftists (for what reason?) any less intellectually barren.

It doesn't make claiming that I'm making stuff up when I'm referring to actual, much-written-about schools of thought that have been critiqued and analysed by people all over the spectrum any less intellectually barren. Reading is free, and many of the works in question are in the public domain.

> and wash you hands with the actual, real life examples of how your "ideals" turned out in real life.

As if you don't?

All your boogeymen (boogeymen that I'm willing to wager have never actually had an effect on your life) are communists. All _my_ boogeymen are capitalists, to this very moment: the UK, France, the Western world in general, first with literal colonisation and currently with a decades-long trail of neocolonialism and outsourcing the cruelty and inequity needed to sustain their economic systems to the parts of the world nobody really cares about. It's incredibly telling which of the atrocities of the 20th century get dragged out all the time and which get swept under the rug.

> When talking about this stuff, the only actual thing that I will except is real life examples of your ideal government. Because, if I don't do that, then leftists will just make a bunch of stuff up, that is not grounded in reality.

You know the funny thing about this? My proto-ideal society (cannot really be described or named as a government, because it was acephalous communalism) did exist, and fragments of it still remain. But then the British came.

And that's essentially the story of the late 19th and the 20th century - nascent right-wing politics and economics running roughshod over nascent leftism, particularly violently so. First with a new wave of colonisation in Africa and Asia to fuel the growth of imperialist capitalism, squashing and integrating various societies that traditionally leant left along the way. And a few decades later with the fascism that swept Western Europe (the quote that free speech advocates like to bring up does not start out with "first they came for the socialists/trade unionists" apropos of nothing). The leftist movements that survived were the ones that were big enough and violent enough to resist destruction, and like I have already said without strong systems such movements were doomed to turn totalitarian. Much like right-wing economics was doomed to turn into this current mess of cronyism, de facto oligarchy, and murder for profit.

But, again, understanding that would require engaging in good faith and recognising that there are multiple factors that influence this topic, which you seem somewhat loath to do.


> It is not a scale of "good vs evil"

> If your stance is that leftism is evil

You are hyper focused on that one word that I used, when that wasn't really my main point. If you don't like that word, then how about I'll rephase. So how about this: "You did not provide any examples of a major leftist government that did not go horrible wrong, and have lots of problems."

> I'm making stuff up

By "making stuff up", I was saying that you were not referencing actual examples that I can look at, that exist in the real world, and are instead talking about hypotheticals that do not reflect how those hypotheticals exist in the real world.

> to this very moment: the UK, France, the Western world in general

And I am going to say that I would much rather live in any of these countries, than any real life examples of leftist governments.

Based on that, and based on comparing real world examples, I am going to say that I would deal with less problems by living in a western country.

> My proto-ideal society did exist, and fragments of it still remain. But then the British came.

Sounds like your ideal society didn't work out so great then and has a lot of horrible problems. If all the leftist governments implode because they can't defend themselves, then it sounds like that is a pretty big problem, and I would never want to live in such a society.

> Much like right-wing economics was doomed

Well at least it is a lot better to live in than the alternative leftist governments! I would still much prefer living in the right wing economies than in any of the leftist ones.


This is silly. Sanders is left. AOC is left. Many are left-leaning.

No one advocates a monarchy either, but that doesn't mean no one is "right-leaning".


AOC is a media figure with a big following, and Sanders has had a cultural influence, but I would hardly say that they're part of the DNC establishment. They're at the fringes. For evidence, Medicare For All is a keystone platform point for them both, and not for the mainstream DNC.


My personal opinion: I don't think Parler is about political left vs political right. There are plenty of folks on the political right who also don't want to be associated with QAnon, insurrection, death threats, and the other stuff that went on in the Parler posts. Don't fall into the trap of boxing this just into 50% vs 50%.

The reality of the US is: 33.7% of Americans didn't even vote in 2020, 34% voted "left", 31% voted "right" (the rest of the votes went to third party candidates). Those who voted on the right are further subdivided into even smaller groups. One of those smaller groups on the political right side includes extremists who attacked the capitol.

Distaste for Parler, due to the actions of some of those extremists who were using it actually crossed political boundaries: folks who didn't vote, folks on the "left" and even folks on the "right". The shunning of Parler isn't about "soft power" on the left its about the fact that a small group of people managed to do something so reprehensible that a LOT more than just 50% of people felt that association with them was tainting.


> It's worth noting how much soft power the political left in America has, despite being about 50% of voters.

This is not technically true. (1) politics is a spectrum (2) the US is generally left leaning as a whole, but the largest demographic designation of people in the US is generally considered moderate.

> This means you should expect to have an uphill battle if you want to do anything in these areas that might counter their preferences.

The population of the US leans left - those outlets are simply a reflection of that. It's absurd to think that all of these elite people who run those companies get together and conspire to keep left ideas alive. If you know anything about the Democratic party you would know they are horrible at creating a coordinated strategy. To think that same party is somehow regurgitating a coordinated theme through commercial means while at the same time having an uncoordinated government strategy is absurd.

> It's possible to go to university, watch movies, read the news everyday, and have no idea what the other half of the country is thinking or saying.

I agree with this but not for your aforementioned reasons. Those echo-chambers exist because communication is no longer at the town square but on social media and messaging apps.


I'm not American but having browsed Parler for say half an hour, if that is supposed to represent 'the other half', then I pray for the country.

I don't think American news media or academia or Silicon Valley skews left. It skews ... urban and educated? Silicon Valley seems libertarian-ish, news and media seems like they do in every other country. From here it doesn't even look like the US has organised, left-wing political actors.


I'd love to live in your reality, but it ain't true. The left isn't the ones storming the Capitol.


When you have polarization along educational and age lines with the left on the higher education and younger side, it's inevitable they'll have cultural power.


> Hollywood, Silicon Valley, academia, and the news media all lean left.

citation needed.

Silicon Valley is a monument to capitalism and most if not all entrepreneurs lean libertarian.

As for the news media, as an example, Fox News has the highest viewership in the US. And for the others, ever thought about why you're not seeing a lot of coverage about unions/worker rights/worker strikes? Don't mistake anti-Trump rhetoric with 'left leaning'..

So I'm not sure we're you're getting your 'data' from.


Fox News has the biggest viewership of a single outlet, and it's right-wing, sure (93+% of viewers self-identify as Republican).

But MSNBC viewers self-identify as Democrat at the rate of 95%, NYT as 91%, NPR at 87%, CNN at 79%.

You need to compare aggregate numbers if you're trying to be fair.

The source for the above is Pew Research Center, Sept 12, 2020, published in this Tweet: https://twitter.com/pewresearch/status/1304908656543178752


Sigh.. Should we forget about the Sinclair Broadcast Group which is the second largest TV station owner in the country and does crap like: https://youtu.be/UOaayej-130?t=34 ?

Saying 'all media is left leaning' is factually false.


So capitalism is right-wing now? Oh let me guess, this is the old "Democrats are actually right-wing", right?

> As for the news media, as an example, Fox News has the highest viewership in the US.

Yes one channel is different than every other, of course viewership is concentrated there -- all the lefty viewers are spread out over the remaining channels.

If the other news channels aren't "left-wing" then Fox isn't "right-wing", and everything is meaningless. There isn't a large population of commies or nazis in the US, despite what the media would have you believe. Both parties are pretty near the center, with some individual outliers.


In what universe is capitalism not an emphatically right wing economic system?


In the universe where way too many Americans think left vs right wing is whether you support reproductive rights or not.


If you read the news every day then you will certainly hear from the other half of the country. I just checked CNN's front page, and while most coverage focuses on the new President, these three articles all feature right-wing viewpoints:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/21/politics/2024-republican-prim... https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/21/politics/fact-check-marjorie-... https://www.cnn.com/videos/business/2021/01/21/conspiracy-th...


If you listen to the Megyn Kelly interview with Parler's CEO, they did expect this and had a second entirely different hosting provider lined up. They would have made the move by the deadline too, except the second hosting provider also dropped them due to extreme pressure.


I do believe that should've also been in their threat model - these guys should've acted like they were hosting The Pirate Bay 2 given the state of American politics. For instance, they could've had a low-traffic backup in read-only mode, or prevent new sign-ups. Or have an application layer switch to reduce outgoing bandwidth (HTML only) to squeeze into a coloc facility on short notice.


I'm not sure if I agree with that. Outside of unabashed copyright infringement and grossly objectionable content (child porn, etc.), there hasn't been a real precedent for a tech player getting booted like this on a moment's notice. If a scenario has never occurred before, I don't see why you'd add it to your threat model.

That being said, they did not have the engineering expertise to even make a resilient stack on top of AWS. If you're running a free trial version of Okta to secure your assets in production [1], all of what you're proposing is a distant dream.

[1] https://twitter.com/okta/status/1348191370528256002


OFAC compliance seems like an obvious comparison?

If your company gets put on an terrorist list, you'll be removed from US services very quickly.


there hasn't been a real precedent for a tech player getting booted like this on a moment's notice

Gab after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting?


Engineering the site well to stay online might be beside the point now. Parler wanted to be taken down so that they could fight this legal battle, likely with an eye on Section 230. As an added bonus, they can frame the removal as persecution.


Clearly it's a battle they're likely to lose, but I wish them luck.

The only way forward in my view is to actually change laws. Anything short of that, is a fool's errand. All this is already settled law and has been litigated previously multiple times. You have to change the law in order to reclassify these entities if you want things to change.

What orgs like Parler keep doing right now is spitting into the wind.


They thought they were gonna be old Kanobi vs. Vader - vanquished but become more powerful.

It would have made sense if their belief system (ie, Trump and alt-right moving mountains to make them viable) were in place. Clearly that wasn't the case and they will be a footnote in history.


I'm not doubting you, but do you have a source for:

> Parler wanted to be taken down so that they could fight this legal battle

?


Somebody leaked an email where they were soliciting new hosting, and they needed 100+ giant instances. They were clearly sloppy and inefficient from the very beginning.


The Pirate Bay team explicitly mocked them for this.


Cloud platforms like AWS, Azure and GCP, are now the de-facto operating systems for web apps and services. Section 230 also provides them immunity from the content that gets hosted in those platforms. I find it unfortunate that we are in this situation where the platform providers are also playing the police. They should stick to being a platform and policing side of this should be left to the law enforcement.

What will we feel if Microsoft and Apple start deciding what kind of contents can be generated and saved in their operating systems? It feels like time is ripe for a cloud provider that simply provides a platform.


Or Verizon starts deciding what voice conversations are allowed on "their" network.


> Yes it's unfair that Twitter gets away with hosting way worse content, but life is unfair, that doesn't mean you stick your head in the sand and pretend the risk of de-platforming never existed.

Im with everything your post says, but I’m not even fully convinced this is an issue.

Twitter can argue a good faith effort and point to millions of accounts and posts it has removed–from all political persuasions. It can also point to constant policy changes to address what Amazons policy sees as a very real problem.

parler on the other hand has had its ceo say quite clearly that they have zero intention as a company to even address this problem.


I've heard other people say similar claims (about Twitter hosting equal/greater amounts of hate speech, threats, etc.). Totally plausible and I wouldn't be surprised if it were definitively true, but have there been any data driven studies to back it up?

Don't know if sentiment analysis ML algorithms are powerful enough to do something like this, but there has to be some scientific consensus on the relative hateful content that each site allows right? Or at least some pretty graphs.


> Twitter gets away with hosting way worse content

Twitter also hosts lots of content that's way better. Among the highly relevant, when it comes to AWS decision making, AWS evangelists like Jeff Barr and Andy Jassy use Twitter to communicate with customers. AWS itself has a Twitter account for status updates. There's just a ton of stuff on Twitter that is absolutely fine and would be collateral damage were Twitter shut down.

In the realm of taking down providers for copyright violations, the courts recognize a standard of "substantial non-infringing use" as a way to minimize that collateral damage. A provider like YouTube, which had a ton of both legal and illegal content prior to the Google acquisition, was allowed to stay up whereas a provider like Napster was shut down because they found it to be almost entirely copyright violation.

It seems like directly equating Twitter and Parler is a false equivalence. Twitter is a generic platform that some users use for problematic political discussion. Parler is a platform specifically targeted at problematic political discussion. You can't target the problematic stuff and expect the same protection as someone who casts a wider net.


It's more of a philosophical conversation, but any social media app is really just an extension of its users. If you only have horrible users posting horrible content, then you have a horrible app. It's easy for us, knowing the tech, to argue the opposite, but in practice, there's no separating the two.


The real problem is that Parler sincerely wanted to start a free speech platform, and this is another data point that the idea, while well intentioned, doesn't work. It's a just-world fallacy: because free speech is a good and just thing, a business model predicated on free speech will be successful.

The first trouble is that you are opening the doors to all sorts of extremists. Whether they're far left, far right or simply personally unhinged, they are as predatory as spammers. They have no qualms about abusing your good will and s**ing in the punch bowl.

Same thing happened with Gab and Minds, but also smaller bulletin boards I've seen over the years. You set up a free speech site, and next thing you have a bunch of Nazis festooning it with swastikas. They're just like spammers, except they're spamming ideology instead of work from home scams.

The second trouble is that Parler is a competitor to established media corporations, who have a strong incentive to shut them down. That's a reality that every new business needs to face: established firms do not want competition.

All the people running amok provide the established firms with plenty of ammo to tar the upstart's reputation. And while they are biased by their incentives, they feel they are acting justly because they see all the extremist lunatics there. AWS didn't fabricate those incidents on Parler, all those were real posts.


Did they actually want a free speech platform? I thought they were known for booting lefties off the platform.


All the partisan boards I've seen, left and right, all plainly labeled themselves as such. If you're going to be a place for like-minded people, that's a selling point.

It doesn't make a lot of business sense to say, "we invite everyone in" and then plan on kicking out a lot of users.

There are loads of simpler reasons why lefties thought they were getting booted, especially incompetence on Parler's part.


When the likes of Facebook start to worry about competition or they just buy them. Look at WhatsApp.

AWS didn’t see Parler as competition, just a liability.


> Yes it's unfair that Twitter gets away with hosting way worse content

Nonsense. Parler was created to host content which Twitter blocked and users which Twitter banned. Not suggesting Twitter was in the clear here, but suggesting Twitter was worse is BS. Parler tolerated much worse content, and on average content on Parler was much more incendiary.


According to the CEO of Parler, banks and payment vendors, law firms, text and mail services also cancelled on them. This is why Parler also motivates discussion of alternative currency.


Does twitter get away with hosting way worse content? Parler explicitly does not moderate calls both subtle and overt to violence -- much less just blatant propaganda. Pretty sure the reason parler gained traction is that twitter does.


If you saw the amount of left-wing content calling for the execution of politicians, calling for communist revolutions, you wouldn't be asking this question. Twitter is just as toxic as Parler, except one is left-wing and the other is right-wing.

If it was the left being censored I would be outraged on their behalf as well.

Edit: Not if, when the left gets censored by big tech, I will stand for freedom of speech with them, but I don't think many conservatives will be left to stand with us.


You're completely ignoring the catalyst for this was that a governement insurrection where 5 people, including some cops, were murdered was planned very heavily and also broadcasted on this service.


The capitol stuff was organised on Facebook, not Parler: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25776225

What about the Summer violence from BLM? Dozens of people died, with Twitter being used as a communications hub to attack specific individuals.


To compare the two is to ignore so much context I can't imagine you're being anything other than disingenuous.


Why? Both are a disenfranchised voice complaining with violence. One might be more valid than the other, but that doesn't mean one is inherently better.


No, they are not. Not at all and that you think that is exactly my point. One is the voice of a group that has been in power throughout the history of this country and the other is a group that has been oppressed by the former group.

One group is using violence to maintain their power, while the other is using anything they can to make their lives better.


Dozens is a bit disingenuous, and you are comparing a protest movement over the course of many months involving up to 20 million people. How does this have any relevance to anything?


I am not trying to be funny, but disparate treatment.


I also distinctly remember more fires, property damage, and calls to ruin peoples lives during the summer.


To compare the two is to ignore so much context I can't imagine you're being anything other than disingenuous.


Glenn Greenwald reports that the planning was actually done mostly on Facebook and Youtube, not Parler: https://greenwald.substack.com/p/how-silicon-valley-in-a-sho...


Maybe he's right, but those companies are bigger and not as easy a target. Parler got beat down because they made themselves a target and have no leverage to defend themselves.


[flagged]


You've been posting so many flamewar comments to HN that we've banned the account. It's too bad, because if you would use the site as intended, HN would be better for having you. But you've been flouting the rules egregiously and often, to the point where it's become the only thing that you're doing here. That's not cool.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Twitter is left wing? I thought it was mastodon that was left wing version


The fact that each side believes Twitter is in favor of the other one should clue them both in to the very obvious truth that none of this is partisan to Twitter. They're only afraid of liability since people have now died.


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