The Big Tech purge of Parler goes against everything the United States stands for

It has been understood since the very inception of the United States that freedom of speech is one of the most important ideals of this nation.  That ideal forms our very foundation.   It is beyond depressing that a significant percentage of the population of the United States no longer values freedom of speech.  It is beyond infuriating that a cabal of self appointed high tech overlords have been engaged in the systematic silencing of individuals who express ideas that conflict with the progressive orthodoxy.

The high tech fascism and censorship reached an appalling level when these corporate tyrants ganged up on the free speech social media platform Parler and forced it to close down, perhaps permanently.  Here is how the CEO of Parler described what took place.  The quote is from this Deadline article.

Parler CEO John Matze said today that his social media company has been dropped by virtually all of its business alliances after Amazon, Apple and Google ended their agreements with the social media service.

“Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,” Matze said today on Fox News.

Matze conceded that the bans could put the company out of business while raising free speech issues, calling it “an assault on everybody.”

“They all work together to make sure at the same time we would lose access to not only our apps, but they’re actually shutting all of our servers off tonight, off the internet,” Matze said. “They made an attempt to not only kill the app, but to actually destroy the entire company. And it’s not just these three companies. Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us too on the same day.”

Liberals on social media constantly point out that these tech companies are private companies therefore they have every right to engage in this despicable behavior.  That is true.  What liberals are implying is that we have no right to complain about this fascism and we must remain silent about it.  On that they are egregiously misguided.  I have every right to speak out against anything and everything I choose to because I have freedom of speech, and that includes private companies that are behaving like a bunch of fascists.  I have every right to speak out about this disgusting censorship and use my voice, and typing to suggest that everyone who is outraged by these direct attacks on freedom of speech to boycott any company that is involved.  Every individual has the tight to criticize, complain about, and rail against whatever they want to. I for one will never use Amazon, Google or Apple again.

I don’t know how many times someone on the political left has told me that what these high tech companies are doing is not censorship because only governments can engage in censorship.  That is utter bovine excrement   Censorship occurs whenever someone is silenced by someone else, no matter the circumstances.  Censorship is always wrong and always deserves condemnation.

Progressives, and many on the right who should know better, believes that there is such a class of speech known as hate speech and that it is not protected by the First Amendment.  The problem with the whole concept of hate speech is that no one can agree what is hate speech and what is not.  You absolutely do not want the government of high tech tyrants defining that constitutes what speech.  Far too often progressives deem something to be hate simply because it conflicts with their political beliefs and ideology. 

Preserving freedom of reviews

There is a lot of debate on controlling free speech on the internet, specifically when that speech is hateful or controversial, and not surprisingly when it relates to a Presidential election. But free speech is also under assault when it comes to business, specifically bad business. The internet is increasingly where we research, conduct and review business, and when that business isn’t good, our bad reviews can carry significant weight. In the past, if a business wronged you, unless you were willing to file a lawsuit, the most you could do was tell your friends not to go there. The internet, and specifically reviews left on Google, Yelp, the BBB, and other websites, has changed that.

Because reviews have a lot of power, they can do a decent job changing behavior. This summer I hired a contractor to level out a low area of our property and cut up a bunch of trees. He came out, leveled the area, and finished about half of the tree work. Because he had another pressing job, and because I was not rushed on the trees, I said he could come back the next week to finish the job, and I paid him in full. Big mistake. I came back from a short underway five weeks later and the job still wasn’t done.

After trying to get him to respond via email and phone, I left a sharp, 1 star review on Yelp. I got a call the next day, we setup a time to finish the project, and I changed the review to 4 stars once the job was complete. Lesson learned: reviews are a good tool, and never pay in full for uncompleted work.

I just solved another dispute that took 2 months. I made a reservation for military travel, but a week before I had to change due to a change in our mission. I called the hotel to cancel, and was told they would give me a credit, as in, I could come back and visit them in the future. I asked for them to reimburse the government credit card instead, because I didn’t know when I would travel there. The gentleman on the phone said he would try.

Three weeks later, and no reimbursement. Calling them again, they said they would try. No change. I called the government credit card company, who called them asking for a refund. Still nothing. I paid the bill (government cards are linked to your personal credit, so you owe regardless) and filed a dispute with the card company. Still nothing.

Online it is then! First a 1-star review on Google. Then Yelp. Then filing a grievance with the BBB. After they ignored the BBB, the BBB rating plummeted from A+ to C-. Yay for me, but I was still out 100 dollars. Then, last night, an email appeared from the manager, apologizing for the issue and refunding my money. I’ll write him back tonight and update the reviews.

This is how reviews should be: opening a dialog to solve a customer grievance. It forces business to improve customer support, and if they ignore it, it warns others to avoid them at all cost. Amazon understands this, and the review system on Amazon is one of the huge drivers behind its now almost ubiquitous use in America. This free speech is under assault by businesses seeking to squelch reviews, in most cases with lawsuits. As there is an awful lot of trolls and others that leave negative reviews for no good reason, this is understandable.

I would offer a different take. Negative reviews are an opportunity for good customer service. They give business a chance to evaluate themselves against an exterior standard. Any reader of Peter Drucker knows that business must use external standards to evaluate their performance, and a negative review, even if unjustified in the business’s eyes, is that external standard. Rather than trying to squelch it via the justice system (something that will become increasingly harder with current legislation), businesses should relish the opportunity to turn an angry customer into a happy one.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.