11/13: “Dear Tim…Please rethink this whole “Parler” business…

We’ve had enough. After reading Media Matters article on Stewart Rhodes and Alex Jones, and watching the linked video describing a proposed attack on our capitol, we are not allowing another corporate giant to enable a platform promoting lies and fomenting violence, without protest. Apple, a company whose corporate vision is “to make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it” is promoting an barely-moderated app, “Parler”, which is fulfilling its promise of becoming another toxic cesspool.

Read more about what’s on the Parler site here.

Write an email to CEO Tim Cook…

This is the outline of the letter we sent to him at tcook@apple.com. Its really long, but you can write a much shorter one, or just a couple of lines. Just make whatever you do sound like you.

“Dear [Tim/ Mr. Cook (choose one)],

 (We put our own history with the company’s products here.)

But you’ve just done something that has just shaken that attachment. You have chosen to offer “Parler,” a rapidly-devolving social media platform, on your app store. I’m absolutely sure you didn’t consciously intend to provide a hate-support app. But any free-speech site without adequate moderation, rapidly degrades to the lowest common denominator, which in America, appears to be hate. You know this. You have people working with you whose profession is to know this. 

Stopping the slide to the bottom is hard. Facebook and Twitter are still behind on monitoring hate speech and harassment.
(https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/7/7/21316681/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-civil-rights-hate-speech-stop-hate-for-profit)

However, the moderators of Parler promise scanty oversight as a feature, not a bug. (Wired) “…Parler functions less like the “public square” it wants to be, and more like an ecosystem of right-wing bloggers, radio hosts, and public figures to further amplify their thoughts.
(https://www.wired.com/story/parler-app-free-speech-influencers/)

Reddit, 4chan and 8chan have numerous examples of what can happen in an anything-goes environment. (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/07/opinion/8chan-reddit-youtube-el-paso.html) Parler, despite being new, has caught up quickly. The ADL just published an article on this relatively new app: (https://www.adl.org/blog/parler-where-the-mainstream-mingles-with-the-extreme). In case you haven’t read it, here’s an excerpt:

“While Parler is not an extremist platform, the site hosts a significant and growing number of users who adhere to a wide variety of mostly right-wing extremist ideologies. Unlike more mainstream platforms, Parler allows users to direct followers to sites like Telegram and Bitchute, which are rife with extremist content, including Holocaust denial.

Some extremists have garnered large followings on Parler, including (as of 11/11/2020):

Seriously, Mr. Cook, are you going to wait until some random shooter quotes a Parler post as the inspiration for the tragedy he causes, before you drop this app?  Your corporate vision is “to make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it.” We truly expect better from you.

Yes, someone else will make a platform for this hate to flourish. Someone always does the worst thing. It does not have to be you. Please remove this app.

Sincerely,

(Sign)______________________________

HEY, BUT WHAT ABOUT FREE SPEECH?!?

We are fans of the ACLU, the most famous champions of free speech in America. So, before posting this, we turned to them for any 21st century updates on this issue. Do free speech concepts in America, which actually didn’t apply to all citizens until the 20th century, still apply in a world where people can literally stew 24/7 in hatefulness and untruths? Where demonstrations end in death? Where QAnon is both a source of domestic terrorism and apparently, legislators? Where our president utilizes the “Big Lie” technique of dictators for his own gain?

Please read the whole ACLU article. We’ve attached part of it below.

(aclu.org) “…(In a 1927 case), Supreme Court Justice Luis Brandeis stated that “free speech was virtually a sacred right and an awesomely powerful force that would expose “falsehood and fallacies” and “avert … evil by the processes of education.” Hence, the remedy to bad speech was “more speech, not enforced silence.”

That piece of writing has been deemed one of the most important commentaries ever crafted on the First Amendment. But Brandeis assumed something that has not been borne out by facts, which is that the better argument would generally win. He also assumed that relevant people on all sides of a question were equally capable of being heard and that skeptics were interested in listening.

That fallacy continues to inform the thinking of those who see speech as inherently self-correcting.

Much as many of us admire Louis Brandeis’s mind and spirit, the society he envisioned has never existed. Instead, we have created a society in which lying is both endemic and purposeful. We have brought the worst values of advertising into the political sphere and wedded that to long-established tactics of political propaganda, even as our political class has learned to use social media to spread disinformation that propagates at a breathtaking rate. The very idea that political speech would expose and therefore vanquish “falsehood and fallacies” now seems incredibly naïve.

Free speech always had limits. But because of our new technological reality, because of the unexpected weaponization of speech, we are having to consider those limits in a new light. We live in a world where it is far from clear that the answer to bad speech is more speech; and where a foreign power, thanks to our freedom of expression, may well be responsible for the election of a U.S. president. We live in a time when a frightened white minority within the larger white majority fights to maintain control of our country; and when large corporations and cynical functionaries — eager to exploit fear — have a bigger megaphone (including their own television news networks) than anyone speaking for the powerless and dispossessed.

We live in an era when the U.S. awarded its presidency to a man who lost the election by roughly 3 million votes, and who, with the cooperation of a submissive Senate, has appointed judges determined to thwart the will of the public; has proposed policies, supported largely by lies, designed to further divide an already polarized nation; and caters to an irrational mob whose most fanatical elements want to refight the Civil War…

Apple has already gone on record of banning people like Alex Jones and Infowars. They took down five of Infowars’ six podcasts from the iTunes and Podcasts apps. Those included War Room and the popular Alex Jones Show podcast, which is hosted daily.

Apple told BuzzFeed News, “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming.

Now Alex is back, on Parler, an Apple app. A distinction without a difference.

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