When corporations decide what speech is free

Peter Bale:

We’ve grown used to corporate responsibility extending to social and environmental issues but there may be risks to us all when that gets stretched to free speech and who can have a platform on otherwise blind global services.

Amazon’s decision to expel the communications service Parler from its Amazon Web Services cloud platform is a step further than Twitter permanently suspending Donald Trump from its service over his incitement of the mob that broke into the US Capitol last week.

Apple and Google have joined in, removing or threatening to remove Parler from their app stores unless it controls threats and incitement in conversations it hosts. By doing so, they are effectively nullifying the fast-growing network promoted to those on the right who believe their free speech rights are threatened by Twitter and Facebook.

“This episode is…a reminder of the immense power that the social media platforms have as gatekeepers of public discourse. That power should trouble you even if you agree with the platforms’ decisions as to Trump,” Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University said on Twitter @jameeljaffer.