The move by large technology firms to de-platform “free speech” social media site Parler has a chilling effect, said White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Director Peter Navarro.
“What we have here is a classic collusive oligopoly, a kind of new wine in an old bottle,” Navarro told Fox Business. “What we saw with this attack on Parler was chilling to me. It’s one thing to de-platform everybody for free speech. But, this was a pincer move where Google and Apple, [the] first part of the pincer, was to not allow Parler apps to be down.”
Over the past week, Google and Apple removed Parler from their respective app-downloading programs, while on Monday morning, Amazon Web Services (AWS) suspended services for the website. Parler then filed a lawsuit against AWS, arguing the Seattle-based tech giant violated its contractual agreement, later adding that a representative sent text messages to Parler CEO John Matze that appeared to suggest AWS only cared about whether President Donald Trump would sign up—rather than violent content.
Parler also asserted that AWS violated the Sherman Antitrust Act in its court filing in Washington state.
Navarro added that Amazon initiated a “brutal kill by taking the cloud away as a small company” because it was no longer able to access its data. “Effectively, Amazon wiped out that company,” he said.
Navarro said that the former Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is “allowed” to tweet and the “[Chinese] Communist Party official propaganda organs put things up [on Twitter] all the time,” but Trump had been removed from Twitter.
Twitter’s ban of Trump was addressed by CEO Jack Dorsey.
“Having to take these actions fragments the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation,” Dorsey said.
The move was met with criticism from the leaders of Germany, France, Mexico, and others—while the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the account ban represents a serious overstep from Big Tech.
Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU, said in a statement that Twitter’s decision to suspend Trump from social media sets a precedent.
“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions— especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” the ACLU statement read.