Parler Forced To Explain The First Amendment To Its Users After They Complain About Parler Turning Over Info To The FBI – Techdirt

Posted: March 31, 2021 at 3:38 am

from the delicious dept

Parler -- the social media cesspool that claimed the only things that mattered to it were the First Amendment and, um FCC standards -- has reopened with new web hosting after Amazon decided it no longer wished to host the sort of content Parler has become infamous for.

Parler has held itself up to be the last bastion of the First Amendment and a protector of those unfairly persecuted by left-wing tech companies. The users who flocked to the service also considered themselves free speech absolutists. But like far too many self-ordained free speech "absolutists," they think the only speech that should be limited is moderation efforts by companies like Twitter and Facebook.

And, like a lot of people who mistakenly believe the First Amendment guarantees them access to an active social media account, a lot of Parler users don't seem to understand the limits of First Amendment protections. Parler, like every other social media service, has had to engage in moderation efforts that removed content undeniably protected by the First Amendment but that it did not want to host on its platform. It has also had to remove illegal content and that's where its most recent troubles began.

Over the weekend, the resurrected Parler crossed over into meta territory, resulting in an unintentionally hilarious announcement to its aggrieved users upset about the platform's decision to forward Capitol riot related posts to law enforcement. It really doesn't get any better than this in terms of schadenfreude and whatever the German word is for an ad hoc group of self-proclaimed First Amendment "experts" having their second favorite right explained to them.

Here's Matt Binder for Mashable:

The reaction to the news that Parler "colluded" with the FBI in order to report violent content was so strong on the right wing platform, the company was compelled to release a statement addressing those outraged users.

In doing so, Parler found itself unironically explaining the First Amendment to its user base filled with members who declare themselves to be "Constitutionalists" and "Free Speech" advocates.

Parler's statement spells it out: the First Amendment does not protect the speech shared with law enforcement by the social media platform.

In reaction to yesterday's news stories, some users have raised questions about the practice of referring violent or inciting content to law enforcement. The First Amendment does not protect violence inciting speech, nor the planning of violent acts. Such content violates Parlers TOS. Any violent content shared with law enforcement was posted publicly and brought to our attention primarily via user reporting. And, as it is posted publicly, it can properly be referred to law enforcement by anyone. Parler remains steadfast in protecting your right to free speech.

That's a very concise and accurate reading of the First Amendment and how it applies to the content Parler forwarded to the FBI. It's not covered. But that hasn't stopped a few vocal complainants from telling Parler to try reading the Constitution again and, apparently, decide it means not only hosting violent content, but refusing to pass these threats on to law enforcement.

The core user base being unable to understand the limits of the right it believes allows it to say anything anywhere is partially a byproduct of Parler's promise to erect a Wild West internet playground for bigots and chauvinists who had nowhere else to go. Once it had some users, Parler realized it too needed to engage in moderation, even if only to rid itself of porn and outsiders who showed up solely to troll its stable of alt-right "influencers."

The January 6th insurrection appears to have forced the platform to grow up a little. Of course, some of that growth was forced on it by the leak of thousands of users' posts, which were examined by journalists and forwarded to law enforcement to assist in identifying Parler users who attended the deadly riot in DC earlier this year. Illegal content is still illegal, and being beholden only to the First Amendment doesn't change that.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, content moderation, fbi, insurrection, public infoCompanies: parler

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Parler Forced To Explain The First Amendment To Its Users After They Complain About Parler Turning Over Info To The FBI - Techdirt

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