It was always clear that the team behind Parler and the people who flocked to it didn’t understand free speech, censorship, or Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Committed to somehow being the biggest fools in social media, Parler released a statement on Monday announcing its support of a Section 230 repeal — an action that would either expose it to incessant and costly legal challenges or compromise its anti-censorship mission statement.
Are there any hinges in this Parler? — Parler’s statement decries a potential re-write of Section 230, claiming it would “further encourage the speech-restrictive, content moderation policies of established tech giants” that would “become de facto censors, restricting speech that would otherwise be protected by the First Amendment.”
The statement also hilariously suggests that anyone in Washington D.C. likes Mark Zuckerberg enough to be his “crony” even as the government stands at the precipice of breaking Facebook apart.
One of the many things Parler fails to grasp is that the First Amendment only protects certain classes of speech —political, ideological, and commercial — against censorship from the government, not private entities like social media companies. Section 230 removes civil liability from online platforms over the removal of harmful content that directly aligns with unprotected speech, but as misinformation, hate speech, and threats of violence take center stage in the Republican party, many misguidingly believe their speech is only political or ideological.
Parler COO Jeffrey Wernick said in the statement that “Congress and the Media ... want platforms to be required to censor speech that challenges their worldview.” The platform’s Chief Policy Officer, Amy Peikoff, likened a rewrite of Section 230 to the creation of an Orwellian dystopia where “all platforms adopt Twitter / Facebook / Google’s terms of service — and ‘protect’ people from ‘wrongthink.’”
Nails in its own coffin — Parler’s baffling statement comes at a time when it’s already down for the count and engaging in the very behavior it accuses other platforms of performing against conservatives against its smattering of left-wing users. It only wants "free speech" if it’s applied to its right-pandering worldview, and it even ramped up its moderation process (that's called "censorship" in some quarters) as the platform becomes a playground for pornography.
A repeal of Section 230 would open the company up to endless lawsuits spawned from its laissez-faire free speech experiment and would force it to implement stricter moderation policies to try and keep legal challenges at bay. But, of course, none of that makes for good headlines, especially when you're a fledgling social media service desperately trying to capitalize on right-wing outrage in the dying days of their tantrum-prone posterchild's administration.