Tech Companies’ Right-Wing Crackdown Renews Internet Moderation Debate

Tech Companies' Right-Wing Crackdown Renews Internet Moderation Debate parler logo on phone screen with twitter and facebook logos in background (Pavlo Gonchar/Sipa via AP Images)

By Solange Reyner | Monday, 11 January 2021 02:04 PM

Tech companies made significant moves over the weekend to silence far-right voices and platforms following Wednesday’s riots at the U.S. Capitol, a crackdown that renewed debate over content moderation on the Internet, reports Axios.

Every social media company has suspended President Donald Trump’s accounts either temporarily or permanently in the aftermath of the attack. Additionally, payment processing company Stripe cut ties with Trump’s campaign, Apple and Google kicked right-wing social network Parler off its app stores and Amazon’s AWS unit stopped providing Parler with cloud services.

Twilio, Okta, and other tech companies also stopped providing services to Parler. Reddit banned the subreddit r/DonaldTrump while Twitch disabled Trump’s channel. Shopify took down two online stores affiliated with Trump.

What comes next is uncertain.

“Right or wrong, they made a political decision,” Jonathon Hauenschild, director of the communications and technology task force for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative nonprofit group, told The Wall Street Journal. Attention on the tech giants “was there to begin with. Now the spotlight is fully on,” he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the industry’s sway over public conversation is too great.

“We are now living in a country where four or five companies, unelected, unaccountable, have the monopoly power to decide, we’re gonna wipe people out, we’re going to erase them, from any digital platform, whether it’s selling things and the like,” he told Fox News on Sunday.

The actions will come under more scrutiny as Congress turns its attention to Section 230 – the part of U.S. law that grants broad protections to platforms for user-generated content. President-elect Joe Biden has previously said he wants to repeal Section 230.