By Mike Masnick
It’s been absolutely fascinating — though not at all surprising — to watch a ton of Trumpists mentally struggling with the process of understanding the nature, importance, and necessity of content moderation online over the last few months via Parler. As you may recall, after whining about being moderated on sites like Twitter and Facebook, a bunch of Trump fans started using Parler, a site that was only recently revealed to have been cofounded by Rebekah Mercer (Parler fans like to claim that their users are migrating from Twitter to Parler, but most of them are still using Twitter, because Parler is mostly them preaching to the converted).
Parler’s founders (including Mercer) and its biggest fans have been insisting that Parler stands for “free speech” and that unlike Twitter, it won’t moderate content. Indeed, despite claiming that it would only moderate “based off the FCC and the Supreme court” (whatever the fuck that means), we knew that the site would end up doing much more moderation, just like every other social media site.
In fact, we highlighted how Parler seemed to be doing a speedrun through the content moderation lessons of every previous social media network that comes on the scene, promising to do no moderation at all, and then quickly discovering that that’s impossible. First, you have to moderate some content under law (such as child sexual abuse material). Second, there is plenty of content that you have strong legal reasons to moderate (such as copyright infringement, to avoid massive liability). Third, every site recognizes they need to deal with straight up spam. And lots of sites insist that they can just do that and nothing else. But then they discover that they have people on their platform trolling, harassing, and abusing others.
Last summer, we highlighted how Parler was banning trolls who were joining the platform just to make fun of Parler and its users. Hilariously, that post keeps getting comments every few days from Parler users saying things like “of course Parler has to ban you leftist trolls.” Just a few examples from our comments. This guy says that he needs Parler as a sort of “safe space.”
So, how does censorship feel to you? Parlor provides a place where people can escape the insults, bullying, Mental/emotional assaults. Try presenting a point of view without name calling, with facts and data, with an open mind and with a little thought toward strangers and how the vitriolic hates speech affects them. Then perhaps the lefties will be welcome.
This is pretty hilarious, given how frequently Trumpists mock others for wanting “safe spaces” and insisting that “hate speech” is not a thing. And then there’s this one from someone who thinks its obvious that the users trolling Parler should get banned:
Every last one of those crybabies up there just self-explained why they were banned. Lol
“I created an account just to mess with conservatives.” Yeah dude, I can see why you were banned.
If you create an account just to screw with people, you’re a troll and you SHOULD be banned regardless of the web site.
If you create an account to debate and give general respect to everyone, then no, you’re fine.
The people above got exactly what they deserved. NO WEB SITE is going to allow harassment of any kind. Period.
Um. Yes, that was the very point of that post. That every site discovers it needs to deal with harassment. And that’s a big part of the reason why people get kicked off of Twitter.
I find it hilarious that the same crew who insists that Twitter/Facebook are “censoring” them, immediately spins around and insists that it’s totally obvious that Parler must remove “trolls, hate speech and harassment” without recognizing their own hypocrisy.
Anyway, sooner or later we were going to have a controversy in which Parler moderation impacted their Trumpist-style supporters, rather than just the folks jumping in to troll. And that day is today.
The Daily Beast has an article giving some of the important background. A SuperPAC connected to convicted political scammer Roger Stone is trying to get people to write in Trump’s name in the two Georgia Senate runoff elections:
The most aggressive call to boycott or cast protest ballots in the two runoff races has, so far, come from a dormant pro-Trump super PAC with ties to Stone that unveiled a new initiative to retaliate against the Republican Party’s supposed turncoats by handing Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.
The group, dubbed the Committee for American Sovereignty, unveiled a new website encouraging Georgia Republicans to write in Trump’s name in both of the upcoming Senate runoff elections, which could determine the party that controls the upper chamber during President-elect Joe Biden’s first two years in office. The PAC argued that doing so will show support for the president in addition to forcing Republicans to address the wild election-fraud conspiracy theories floated by Trump supporters and members of his own legal team.
This entire campaign is somewhat bewildering, since (1) there is no way to write-in names during the run-offs and (2) it would seem to go against Trumpist interests to sink the support of the two Republican candidates. So it was somewhat amusing to suddenly find out that Parler is apparently blocking hashtags related to this campaign:
For what it’s worth, Parler’s recently hired policy executive says that the accusation may have been “a glitch” according to Newsweek. And I’d totally buy that is a possibility.
There seems to be no way to link directly to that Parler post, but it says:
This is false, as evidenced by the fact that this post showed up when I searched for the tag.
There may be a glitch, or a delay of some kind, because the initial screen summarizing the results showed “1 post,” and then when you click on that, you see a whole bunch.
Please people, don’t jump to conclusions. I know you’re accustomed to biased content curation, but we don’t do that here. Ask before jumping to conclusions.
However, I will note that when Twitter admitted that it had a glitch that filtered some people out of auto-complete and latest results in search, the same folks rushing to Parler now (such as Ted Cruz) insisted that it was obviously deliberate and to this day continue to falsely accuse Twitter of shadowbanning them. So it’s pretty rich for Parler people to say “please people, don’t jump to conclusions.” The only reason Parler has any audience at all is because its insanely gullible userbase jumped to a bunch of false conclusions about Twitter moderation.
Again, Parler has every right to moderate however it sees fit. And getting rid of trolls and assholes is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. Also, glitches happen all the time. However, I find it amusing that once again, Parler is learning all the same lessons that Twitter learned over time — and Parler’s users (and employees) are demanding we give Parler the benefit of the doubt they never gave Twitter. So before Parler’s fervent supporters rush into our comments to defend Parler, let me be clear: Parler has every right to do this. No one is mocking them for that. We’re mocking them for (1) insisting that Parler wouldn’t do this and (2) for the fact that you give Parler the benefit of the doubt that you refuse to give Twitter.