When “Build Your Own Twitter” Became “You Can’t Have Your Own Twitter”
When I first started this website, I focused on Twitter as a way to spread articles on it. Despite many of those early articles being terrible, the great patriots I met on that platform were largely supportive and helped me along. Plus, Twitter is an excellent platform for the sharing of ideas. But, from the very beginning, the specter of social media censorship hung over every post, every interaction. Many other conservatives experienced similar threats of censorship and discrimination, but when they, or I, voiced concerns, the response from the left and libertarian right was “build your own Twitter.”
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And that was a fair response. While “build your own Twitter” might sound dismissive, it is, I think, a fair point. Twitter’s a private company and use of it is voluntary. If we disagree with its actions, as most conservatives do, then we should just use a competitor. That is how the free market is supposed to work.
And work it did, Adam Smith’s invisible hand went into action and created a Twitter competitor. Responding to libertarians and leftists saying “build your own Twitter,” John Matze did just that. He built Parler, a social media site that functions similarly to Twitter but does not censor users for anything other than threats of violence or sharing pornography. It was a pro-free speech platform, rather than being anti-freedom, like most of the Big Tech platforms. Because of that, it became popular with refugees from the authoritarian Twitter platform.
But then, when social media censorship came to a head after the Reichstag Fire of 2021, suddenly the left reversed course and eradicated the infrastructure that allowed Parler to succeed.
Colluding in a cartel-like manner, Google, Apple, and Amazon worked to crush Twitter’s competitor. That gang of Silicon Valley oligarchs did its best to remove the one company with the temerity to challenge Big Tech’s domination of American society.
Companies deciding not to associate or provide services to another company is fine and fair, if done legally. Apple has no legal obligation to allow downloads of Parler, nor does Amazon have a responsibility to provide server space to it. Morally, I believe discrimination on the basis of political beliefs is wrong, but that doesn’t mean companies have to work with other companies.
But companies are not allowed to collude, which it appears that the Big Tech companies did. To protect their dominance of the social media space, they worked together to eradicate Parler after saying for years to “just build your own Twitter.”
Yet worse, they also worked together to prevent Parler from coming back online. According to John Matze, they pressured other companies to not work with Parler. They told other server services to not work with it and convinced service providers for everything from payments to legal advice to flee it, making it difficult for the site to recover.
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That is illegal. It is cartel-like behavior, which has not been allowed in America since the Gilded Age.
If we don’t, then we might not be able to express our opinions publicly ever again because we will be banished from the internet, the public square.
Note that I said the internet is the public square, not any specific company. Twitter might seem like a public utility, but it is not. Ditto that for Facebook. They are areas where people converse in the online public square, but not the public square itself.
That means that conservatives and policymakers must not get distracted trying to force Twitter or Facebook to allow conservative views to be shared on their platforms. That would be a waste of time because it addresses the wrong problem. Social media censorship is bad, but the real problem is ensuring that access to the public square of the internet is not controlled purely by a few oligarchs.
While we don’t have a right to use Twitter, we do have a right to share our opinions, both online and in person. And that is what is so dangerous about Big Tech’s concerted attack on Parler. In behaving like a cartel, they worked together to deny free speech rights to half of the country. That cannot go unpunished, nor can it be allowed to continue. Every American should desperately want Parler to come back online. Without it, free speech in America might be dead.
They said “build your own Twitter,” so a few brave conservatives did so. Big Tech hadn’t anticipated that, imagining its monopoly on online conversation would continue forever. So, when the unimaginable happened and a brave start-up challenged Big Tech’s dominance, a cartel of trillion-dollar companies colluded to crush it. That is heinous and un-American.
What allows our capitalist economy to work is competition. What Big Tech did was anti-competitive. That’s a horrifying attack on free speech, capitalism, and American values. It must not be allowed to continue.
It’s okay to say “build your own Twitter.” That shouldn’t be something we conservatives should have to do, but if we do then fine. What’s unacceptable is kicking people off one platform and then preventing them from accessing or building another.
By: Gen Z Conservative