No matter how one feels about President Donald Trump and his social media bans by Twitter and Facebook, the actions by big technology firms and platforms when it comes to shutting down potential rivals is a concern.
There are concerns about how big tech impacts competition, the marketplace and the flow of ideas.
We have antitrust laws for a reason — even if they have not been enforced much by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Twitter and Facebook permanently banned Trump after his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. The move sent many conservatives looking for friendlier social media confines. A good number of them were signing up on Parler, which touts itself as a no censorship zone.
That did not please the likes of Apple and Google, which kicked Parler off their app stores. The big shoe dropped on Parler when Amazon Web Services — the technology arm of Jeff Bezos’ empire — dropped the social media platform from its servers.
And just like that, Parler was offline. Amazon pulled the plug and Parler has not yet been able to get back online.
The big tech firms worry about Parler not policing extremist voices in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20. There is a legitimate debate to be had on free speech, extreme views and the power of Facebook and Twitter to regulate public discourse.
Consumers and voters should remember that we have given Facebook and Twitter the power they yield in the public square. We have the right to take our business and time elsewhere.
Parler has sued Amazon, alleging breach of contract and antitrust violations over its platform being taken down. Therein sits some of our concerns.
We are seeing a worrisome trend among big tech companies when it comes to how they treat our data as well as potential competitors and upstarts.
Big tech firms are acting as big monopolies acted in the past. Standard Oil comes to mind
We worry that Amazon and social media giants have so much power and so much market share that they are able to push around upstarts and squelch competition. There is a legitimate concern of what they could do to a small business or individuals.
The consolidation of power is part of capitalism and again, why we have antitrust laws in place.
There are already antitrust suits against Facebook and Google related to how they treat competitors and other businesses.
Putting Trump and politics aside, we need an economic landscape that allows for innovation and competition.
The debate around Parler and whether it should or should not censor social media posts is an important one.
But we worry the actions of Amazon and other tech firms could be more about a big powerful company being able to bully a smaller one.
More competition is always better than less, and we hope state attorneys general and federal regulators take a long look at how the Parler dance with big tech really went down.
We also hope the Federal Communications Commission looks into First Amendment implications and other applicable regulations related to the behaviors and business practices of big technology firms.
More speech and freedom of expression are preferable to less, and we worry some of the technology giants actions — beyond Trump — are taking us and the First Amendment down a perilous path.