Hey, I'm Dan! I'm the CEO of Plus and a venture partner at Madrona. I write the DL, a newsletter about tech in the Pacific Northwest

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Amazon Shuts Down Parler

This is probably the most important tech news of last week, but it’s been pretty difficult to follow, so here’s my summary of the key events leading up to Parler’s shutdown:

  • After the insurrection at the Capitol, tech leaders make public statements condemning the attack, even retweeting Chris Sacca’s post blaming the violence on Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey
  • Friday afternoon, Twitter and Facebook suspend Trump’s accounts. Google bans Parler from the Play Store
  • Friday night, Parler becomes the most popular app on the App Store
  • Saturday afternoon, Apple bans Parler from the App Store
  • Saturday evening, AWS’s Trust and Safety team tells Parler:
  • “[W]e cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others… Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account.”
  • On Sunday evening, Parler goes offline

I thought Stratechery had a great interpretation of what this really meant:

What I believe happened this weekend was a uniquely American solution to the problem of Trump’s refusal to concede and attempts to incite violence: all of corporate America collectively decided that enough was enough, and did what Congress has been unable to do, effectively ending the Trump presidency. Parler, to be honest, was just as much a bystander casualty as it was a direct target.

And now many people are worried about the power of the tech platforms:

  • Naval - If you can silence a king, you are the king
  • David Sacks - Parler did have a ToS prohibiting incitement and violence. As a hyper-growth early-stage company, it had difficulty enforcing it. But so do Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc with far more resources. It did not deserve the death penalty. To all my friends in the tech ecosystem… You would not want your portfolio companies being treated this way.
  • The Economist - Silicon Valley should not be given control over free speech
  • Angela Merkel - Lawmakers should set the rules governing free speech and not private technology companies

I would love to hear what you think:

  1. Do you think the tech companies were right to shut down Parler?
  2. Do you think this is a “special case,” or is this setting a precedent for how tech companies will operate in the future?

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