Sen. James Lankford: Big Tech Is Trying to Shut Down Conservative Voices

Sen. James Lankford: Big Tech Is Trying to Shut Down Conservative Voices
President Donald Trump (C), Senator James Lankford (R-OK) (L), and Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE), during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Feb. 7, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
Masooma Haq

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said on Sunday that Big Tech’s recent actions, with Apple suspending Parler and the removal of the accounts of President Donald Trump and other conservatives from their platforms, show the tech giants do not want Americans to have a dialogue with one other.

“This has moved from ‘Hey, I don’t like a few things, so I’m going to knock it out,’ to ‘I don’t like you at all,’ or ‘I don’t like your opinion,’ or ‘I don’t like anyone on that side.’” Lankford told Judge Jeanine Pirro on Fox on Sunday. “I have often said that the way Twitter and Facebook are going, there will be a rise of a conservative social media and liberal social media.”

“That doesn’t help us long term to be able to have American dialogue with each other. But that is the rise. Now what we are seeing is big tech joining together to say ‘Hey, when a conservative social media site rises, we’re going to do what we can to kill that and suppress it at the very beginning, to be able to make sure that the opinions we don’t like are not heard,’” Lankford added.

On Sunday Apple and Google suspended Parler—which is marketed as a free speech social media platform—from their app stores, while Amazon cut Parler off from its Web-hosting service.

The targeted censorship by these companies against Parler came after civil unrest and acts of violence marred a largely peaceful protest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A group of rioters led some protesters waving American and Trump flags in illegally storming the Capitol building as lawmakers were counting electoral votes in a joint session of Congress. The mayhem on the day left five people dead, including one police officer, and dozens of officers injured.

Responding to the Big Tech claims that Parler was promoting violence, Lankford said, “You cannot say that every single person on Parler is evil and inciting riots. You cannot say that. You cannot say every person has committed violence that’s on Parler. But what Apple is trying to say is, ‘We don’t like your point of view, and so we’re going to use all of our might as a company, to be able to diminish that.”

“That is toxic to our culture, to a group of people that said they started their companies based on wanting people to be able to connect with each other and connect with family and friends and have dialogue,” added Lankford.

In addition, a number of Silicon Valley technology companies ramped up their policing of statements and comments from President Donald Trump, conservatives, and other voices they deem harmful. Twitter on Jan. 8 permanently removed the president’s account on its platform and justified its censorship by saying the president had violated its “Glorification of Violence Policy” after he posted a message urging protesters to remain peaceful and leave the Capitol. The Trump campaign Twitter account has also been removed.

Parler, which has attracted a large following of classical liberal and conservative-leaning users, appeared to have been targeted for allegedly lacking a system to “implement robust moderation for egregious content.”

Apple said in a statement to media outlets on Jan. 9 that Parler had “not taken adequate measures to address” the proliferation of “threats of violence and illegal activity.”

“We have suspended Parler from the App Store until they resolve these issues,” the statement said.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ questions about the ban.

Similarly, Amazon told Parler that they would be shutting Parler’s servers at midnight on Jan. 10, over what it claims is the platform’s lax approach to violent content posted by its users. Parler disputes this claim.

Amazon also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the suspension.

Janita Kan contributed to this report.
Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.
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