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This month, tech giants banned a fledgeling social media app called Parler. Amazon, Apple and Google all removed the app from their app stores and hosting services. According to Vox, “Amazon booted Parler from its Amazon Web Services, citing the risk to public safety. This followed Parler’s app being removed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Stores for its role in inciting violence.” The network has received criticism for its extreme free-speech position which led to extremist viewpoints gaining steam on the platform. But regardless of your personal political leanings, here’s why the Parler ban is a sign of things to come. And none of them are good. We’ll discuss concerns including:
When companies become too big, they throw the rulebooks out of the window. No longer does the concept of supply and demand apply to them. They are so essential, so entrenched, that they operate outside the normal market bounds. Don’t think that’s true? Chances are you use Amazon a lot (especially during this pandemic), now imagine if they raised the price of standard delivery and Prime by 30%. You’d probably still pay it. Why? Because they’re the biggest game in town and no one else even comes close to the convenience and selection they offer.
Who platforms allow to speak and who they don’t says a lot about their political agendas as an organisation. And before you think ‘platforms are neutral’, no they aren’t. People work at companies and people have biases (positive or negative). This applies to discrimination too. LCFI states, “consistently White portrayal of AI can amplify discrimination, including by: sustaining a racially homogenous workforce, perpetuating oppressive narratives of White superiority, misrepresenting the opportunities and risk of AI, and creating new power hierarchies that place ‘White’ machines in a position of power over non-White humans.”
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