Parler Shutdown In Latest Attack on Free Speech On The Internet

Recently, millions of supporters of Twitter reportedly left that company due to its continued censoring of viewpoints and the permanent banning of President Donald Trump.  Many went to the more open forum offered by Parler — making it the number one item on Apple’s App store.  Apple, Google, and other companies then moved to cut off Parler, which has now been shutdown. In so doing, these companies eliminate any alternative to their own controlled platforms. It is a major threat to free speech. Yet, the silence of academic and many free speech advocates is striking and chilling.

Apple issued a statement that “We have always supported diverse points of view being represented on the App Store, but there is no place on our platform for threats of violence and illegal activity.”  So Parler can operate only if Apple and Google are satisfied that it is engaging in the same controversial policies of censorship.  Parler is based on the original concept of the Internet as an open forum for free speech.

I admittedly know little about Parler, but it does not matter beyond the fact that this is an alternative forum for free speech. I am an unabashed Internet originalist. I have long opposed the calls for censorship under the pretense of creating “an honest Internet.”  We have have been discussing how writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. The erosion of free speech has been radically accelerated by the Big Tech and social media companies. The level of censorship and viewpoint regulation has raised questions of a new type of state media where companies advance an ideological agenda with political allies.

As I have previously written, we are witnessing the death of free speech on the Internet.  What is particularly concerning is the common evasion used by academics and reporters that this is not really a free speech issue because these are private companies. The First Amendment is designed to address government restrictions on free speech. As a private entity, Twitter is not the subject of that amendment. However, private companies can still destroy free speech through private censorship. It is called the “Little Brother problem.” President Trump can be chastised for converting a “Little Brother” into a “Big Brother” problem. However, that does alter the fundamental threat to free speech.  This is the denial of free speech, a principle that goes beyond the First Amendment. Indeed, some of us view free speech as a human right.

Consider racial or gender discrimination. It would be wrong regardless if federal law only banned such discrimination by the government. The same is true for free speech. The First Amendment is limited to government censorship, but free speech is not limited in the same way. Those of us who believe in free speech as a human right believe that it is morally wrong to deny it as either a private or governmental entity.  That does not mean that there are not differences between governmental and private actions. For example, companies may control free speech in the workplaces. They have a recognized right of free speech. However, the social media companies were created as forums for speech.  Indeed, they sought immunity on the false claim that they were not making editorial decisions or engaging viewpoint regulation.  No one is saying that these companies are breaking the law in denying free speech. We are saying that they are denying free speech as companies offering speech platforms.

If Pelosi demanded that Verizon or Sprint interrupt calls to stop people saying false or misleading things, the public would be outraged. Twitter serves the same communicative function between consenting parties; it simply allows thousands of people to participate in such digital exchanges. Those people do not sign up to exchange thoughts only to have Dorsey or some other internet overlord monitor their conversations and “protect” them from errant or harmful thoughts.

Much of our free speech today occurs on private sites like Twitter and Facebook. The Democrats want private companies to censor or label statements deemed misleading. Such a system would evade First Amendment conflict but it would have an even greater likely impact on free speech than direct government monitoring.

302 thoughts on “Parler Shutdown In Latest Attack on Free Speech On The Internet”

  1. Apple has rules that cannot be violated by any app they offer in the AppStore. These are NOT new rules, and they have NOT been
    used arbitrarily ever, to shape opinion or advance a political viewpoint.

    I think the rule that was violated on Parler was “no stoking or glorification of violence” for those using the app. Parler has similar rules in writing, but wasn’t enforcing them. It doesn’t matter as far as Apple’s policy.

    The Parler app was dislisted based on that rule being violated.

    People for whom everything is a conspiracy-against-the-right don’t usually bother to check out alternate explanations for things — it’s mental laziness and confirmation bias preference.

    A person grounded in reality rejects such simplistic, childish notions of how the world works, and can read about hundreds of apps that have been delisted by Apple, and which policy was violated.

    1. “Apple has rules that cannot be violated by any app they offer in the AppStore.”


      The “State Council” app is the official app of the communist Chinese government. (I.e., it’s an app for dictators.) The app is available at both the Google and Apple stores. Worse than that, both companies actively support that bloody dictatorship by conducting business in China.

      You cannot credibly claim to be against violence directed at the innocent, while openly supporting China’s violence against its own innocent citizens.

      The dictatorial butchers in Iran and Syria have Twitter and Facebook accounts.

      At some point, it becomes absurd to claim: “We’re shutting down Trump, Parler, et al. because we oppose any calls for violence against the innocent.”

      1. All of Big Tech has Kowtowed to chinese dictators.

        The tremendous hypocracy of the modern left is incredible.

        The NYT went nuts over Tom Cottens editorial. But allowed the Chinese to justify using the army to put down protests in Hong Kong.

        The left stands for nothing.

  2. Here’s what the Left is doing:

    1. Shut off lines of communication
    2. Dehumanize Americans who support Trump/MAGA
    3. Turn Americans against Americans

    Don’t fall into this trap. The Constitution matters

    1. “Get the firing squads ready. Pence goes FIRST” (Lin Wood published on Parler Jan 6th during storming of US Capitol)

      Let’s hear who thinks this in not signaling an assassination order to a mob.

      Let’s hear from anyone who thinks this is
      protected speech under the Constitution, and deserves wide publication?

      Any takers?

      1. Let’s hear from someone of an age to be told as an adolescent, “You should be shot”. pbinca’s telling us that she’s witlessly literal-minded.

      2. Lin Wood is a saboteur who did what he did to get R’s to not vote in the GA election. Now Lin Wood has made outrageous posts on Parler and has successfully brought Parler down. The man is an agent of the Left doing everything to destroy Republicans. People need to see the man for who he is and what he has done.

    2. This is serious blog site, weighted toward lawyers, and steeped in fact-based argument. Your comment looks out of place.
      All vague accusations, appealing to vast conspiracy called “the Left”….no facts.

  3. You really believe these companies are a threat to American values? Fine– starve the beast.

    No more use of Twitter and Facebook.

    Stop using iPhones and Android phones.

    No more Gmail.

    And most importantly, pull all your publications from Amazon.

    Oh, that’s too hard and might cost you money?

    Then I guess you don’t REALLY believe they are that much of a threat.

    1. You don’t understand the issue. To do as you suggest would be allowing companies that were designed as free forums, to win. They would be embolden by such a move and could essentially push free speech and those who speak it into a place where there is no 21st Century platform available to conservatives. If the right did what you said, they will be eliminated from the free exchange of ideas in the most efficient broad based communications platform. You very statement demonstrated your bigotry against anyone who doesn’t think like you. You a fascist in you thinking. Free speech must endure and those who believe in it must fight for it, not just give up and walk away.

  4. One way any Press organization or social media sites (like Jonathan Turley) or any citizen could provide checks & balances on “fake news” would be to research “lower federal court rulings” over the past 20 years, that never made it to the appeals court level. Especially civil and constitutional cases filed “pro se” (where the plaintiff represented themselves).

    These are plaintiffs (especially pro se plaintiffs) that were granted legal standing, by a federal judge. These plaintiffs weren’t poor enough to qualify for legal aid but too poor to risk an appeals court challenge. In other words legitimate cases but the plaintiffs couldn’t risk tens of thousands of dollars if they lost.

    The main stream Press has largely ignored these cases. Congress has ignored these cases. The DOJ has not only ignored these cases over 20 years but bullied innocent plaintiffs in court (in violation of their constitutional oath of office). In other words if an innocent American was tortured, blacklisted or physically assaulted – a “team” of DOJ attorneys, from America’s top law schools, would go against pro se plaintiffs (citizens acting as their own attorney with no legal training that were the victims of war crimes).

    It’s easy to do, just look up a particular federal court online and search their district court cases. In 2021, many Trump voters will likely be pro se plaintiffs suing the DOJ. The Press should be following these cases as a check on their reporting.

  5. Fascinating, Turley.

    It struck me reading your post that you view the internet as some sort of public id machine. Particularly interesting is the comparison of private companies monitoring public conversation as if Verizon or Sprint would monitor private conversation. Underneath that is the whole ‘shouting fire in theater’ aspect of hate and violence speech in privately owned public forums…

    Ultimately, it further comes across as you being an academic lawyer who often loses the forest for the trees or uses bits of the Constitution to squash other bits of the Constitution. Divide and conquer as it were.

    And I find it hilarious knowing your penchant for censorship on your blog comments. Leading me to total chuckles over this:

    “As I have previously written, we are witnessing the death of free speech on the Internet. What is particularly concerning is the common evasion used by academics and reporters that this is not really a free speech issue because these are private companies. ”

    On another note…, looks like Trump’s going to need an impeachment lawyer this week. My guess is you may be clearing your schedule.

    Elvis Bug

      1. I’d argue not impeaching a human bed pan is the single biggest threat to the Constitution. I’ll even go up to the Cape to argue on Dershowitz’s home turf. So we’re agreed…, bring it on.

        Elvis Bug

  6. The context for this is the Great Reset. This is happening world wide. The US is being targeted for take down just as other nations around the globe have been falling one by one. Big Tech is intimately connected to the whole endeavor. They are major players. Build new platforms. Build whole different ways of being in the world, better ones, humane/human friendships and communities. (This may not include tech platforms at all.)

    Stand up for the rights of all people. Freedom of speech is precious and it is the cornerstone of other freedoms. This is the reason that free speech has been under deadly attack in the US.

    “Ugandans are set to go to the polls on 14 January to elect the country’s next president, as well as parliament and local government representatives.

    Facebook said on Monday that it had shut down accounts belonging to Ugandan government officials accused of seeking to manipulate the public debate ahead of the Thursday elections.

    “This month, we removed a network of accounts and pages in Uganda that engaged in CIB (Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour) to target public debate ahead of the election,” Facebook’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo, said in an email.
    The election campaign period in the country is said to have been marked by the use of violence against supporters of the opposition.”

  7. Professor………I appreciate the way you have explained all of this. I knew the First Amendment does not apply to private companies…..Being married to an attorney is educational , but not everyone is that lucky. 🤠 Hopefully, ordinary citizens, like me, can continue to access your many posts and gain an understanding of this important subject which is critical to our survival as a democracy!

  8. I appreciate your comments here; they provide an important clarification of the company’s rights and the rights of humans to speak. Germany has offered to help us control our “Hate speech problems.” Think about that. I’m sure Beijing is already helping.
    I had moved to Parler, myself, and I assure you, I’m no terrorist, nor did I see much that made me believe a terrorist movement was evolving. I have, however, seen many such things on Facebook during the last few years. That Parler’s cowardly attorneys abandoned them is par for the course, of late, and deeply upsetting. They were not named. (On Parler, and Twitter, and Facebook, they want names so they can attack, right?)
    The oligarchs are winning, and they will come for you, and William Jacobsen at Legal Insurrection, and all others who question the global agenda reset. We are at risk of going the way of Hong Kong, I’m afraid. I posted your article on my Facebook page, and one other. I made it clear I was not interested in debate on that forum, and I understand that my adult children will now have nothing to do with me, nor will I be able to achieve much more in my profession or personal life. I will close my FB account January 20. It is comforting to know that I am not alone, even though I now cringe when a helicopter goes overhead, or there’s a knock at my door.
    I do not believe it is valuable for me to say whether or not I am a Trump supporter. Nevertheless, the principles over personalities issue needs consideration, along with free speech. Everybody on the planet wanted Trump to stop tweeting, myself included. But it was his way, his right as a human being, and his right as a persecuted and illegally spied upon leader, duly elected. if we continue to doubt every election, what does it say about our election process as our free expression of preference? Sorry to depart the topic…next up: Voter ID as free speech.

    1. Betsy, it’s very sad. Trump used Twitter because the mainstream media did not cover his administration fairly.

  9. I agree with you that Parlor should not be shuttered, especially by their competition. This is a silencing of opposing voices and dissent that goes against at least the very spirit of the 1st Amendment. I argue that govt using these platforms to inform the public makes them more than “private enterprise companies” that can censor as they deem fit. I see them as more like public meeting places, or similar to your take on a phone call via a “party line” (you have to be old to remember those). We don’t censor speech between Americans with other Americans, so how can we censor social media. I do however concur with their decision to enforce a ban on “individual accounts” which promote violence, particularly when that violence comes to fruition. I have not heard any take from you on their silencing Trumps personal account and holding him accountable as they would any other private citizens account that promoted violence, but I know why I haven’t heard your take on that. Because doing so you’d be forced to address the one fact you refuse to see or acknowledge. That Trump promoted the violence at the Capitol on Wednesday.

    1. Democrats have promoted, embraced and financed the killing, arson, looting and anarchy of 2020

      Try to use that brain of yours when addressing people outside of your cult

    2. Where in Trumps speech did he promote violence?
      What did Trump Really Say?

      In the 1:12:43 hour of the Washington speech, this is what he said:
      “So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give… The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

      Donald Trump: (01:13:19)
      So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to thank you all. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all for being here, this is incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you.”
      So walking down Pennsylvania Ave was inciting charging up the Capitol and illegally entering the halls?
      When BLM and Antifa were burning and looting Kenosha, Minneapolis Seattle and Portland this last summer, CNN and MSNBC were reporting the protesters were mostly peaceful. The incoming vice president set up a fund to get the “mostly peaceful protesters” out of jail.
      “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” George Orwell

  10. How do you convince millions of Americans this election did not silence their voice? By electronically duct-taping their mouths, of course. Equal security of rights…not.

    1. re: Olly

      Combatting free speech with free speech is the best solution. Trump supporters could be asked “what if Obama did 1% of what Trump had done the past four years – would the response be the same, based on the same facts?”. If BLM supporters had breached the U.S. Capitol, would the response had been the same?

      Remember, when Obama was attacked for the actions of his Christian preacher? When that lost traction, Obama was called a Muslim. When that didn’t work Obama was called a Kenyan Witch Doctor. When has a president ever been suspected of not having a birth certificate? The “Ferguson Report” published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014 found not only local police departments but some local government administrations were opposed to Obama solely for racist reasons.

      Trump talked about grabbing women by their private parts and that he could could shoot someone and get away with it. For some reason, many (if not most) police officers supported Trump but viewed Obama as illegitimate. Imagine if Obama had refused to release his tax returns? Any Trump supporter that is honest can’t deny the double-standard.

      Rioters, of any party, that break laws should be held accountable but why is there a double-standard? If you support Trump’s actions, why is that same action bad when Obama did something more legal, more presidential and more American?

      1. Combatting free speech with free speech is the best solution.

        That’s exactly correct. The rest of your comment reflects how free speech works. You have the option to state your truths and I have the option to state mine. We have whatever set of facts and evidence we believe support our truths.

        Anyone, of any party, that break laws should be held accountable but why is there a double-standard?

        There’s a double-standard because people don’t agree on the truths facts and evidence show.

        Trump supporters could be asked “what if Obama did 1% of what Trump had done the past four years – would the response be the same, based on the same facts?”.

        Had Obama done what Trump did the last 4 years, we wouldn’t have had a Trump presidency; it would have been Clinton.

        1. Olly,

          “ Combatting free speech with free speech is the best solution.

          That’s exactly correct. The rest of your comment reflects how free speech works.”

          That’s is mostly true. But there’s a caveat. If it’s done in a public square OWNED by the public (paid for by taxpayers thru government).

          If the government had its own Twitter like platform then Turley would be justified by his concerns. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

          When the platform is run by a private company it has sole discretion on how it chooses to run it. Every single person who uses Twitter, or Facebook, or anyone of those platforms AGREES to THEIR terms and conditions. Nobody, not even the companies themselves forced anyone to accept those conditions. Many of which include censorship and being banned for violating the agreement THEY signed willingly.

          To cry foul that their free speech is being violated is to ignore the fact that those very same people agreed to be subjected to the company’s policy. The first amendment offers no protection against that.

          Even Turley tacitly admitted that none of these companies are breaking the law. He believes free speech shouldn’t be censored by private companies as a moral values. Problem is the law isn’t about dictating morality. Turley should know that. He just has a conflict between what he WANTS and what the law says.

          1. Silicon Valley owes its existence not only to the internet literally built by the government,


            but also to many rounds of venture capital funding by the CIA outfit, forget the name, you can look it up,. not to mention DARPA.

            it goes on and on. at best the big social media giants ARE UTILITIES AND THEY MUST BE REGULATED AS SUCH

            Sal Sar

          2. Problem is the law isn’t about dictating morality.

            Is that so? Then you would be fully supportive of removing Section 230 protections for private companies. By accepting these protections, they have effectively partnered with the government in the regulation of free speech.

            1. Olly, removing section 230 will not prevent companies from censoring or banning people. In fact it will encourage it more. Because they can be sued for whatever their users say or do. They will have a much bigger incentive to censor people and ban them to protect themselves against lawsuits, Plus they will still make you sign an agreement stating you will given up your right to sue and go straight to arbitration. Do you really want that?

              1. svelaz you not been reading many terms of use recently have you. i see that all the time now.

                they change those terms of service whenever they feel like it

                an old liberal professor of mine used to call such things, “Contracts of adhesion”

                that was before California liberals in Silicon Valley became experts in ramming them down our throats

                now “liberals” love “private property” without regard to the common good in the way that only billionaire globalists can like

                oh wait, that’s who owns them all now. the global capitalists

                Sal Sar

              2. You dodged the question. You said: Problem is the law isn’t about dictating morality. Section 230 is a law providing protections to only a few private companies to dictate morality. So once again, is your statement accurate when you say the law isn’t about dictating morality? Because clearly this section was intended to do just that. I believe 230 protections are a public good if they are regulated on what they are permitted to censor. This gives the public, through their lawmakers a voice. But when 230 protects censorship without regulation, then government has weaponized private entities to discriminate without oversight. And they already have a much bigger incentive to censor people and ban them.

              3. You are partly correct.

                They will be responsible for what their users post – Right and left.

                Defamation claims will be decided by juries – sometimes badly but far less partisanly than now.
                Regardless, in the real world publishers manage this problem all the time.

                Arbitration is not working out so well for Patreon.

                You can not give up your right to sue over defamation.
                And you especially can not give it up if you are not on social media, just defamed by someone on it.

      2. “Combatting free speech with free speech is the best solution”

        No it isn’t. It is political organizing. Not any speech blather that dissipates energy and does nothing, only the speech that organizes is what mattes now.

        What brings the workers and middle class into a posture where they can rectify the abuse of America by the billionaires through laws and government actions that curtail their exploitation of our people.

        Those future laws will not be stopped by 18 century enlightenment bromides.

        Free speech is the cleverest defense of global capitalism and now it’s being shown to be, in a word, fake

        Sal Sar

        1. Those 18th century enlightenment bromides not only worked they have brought the most rapid improvement in the human condition EVER seen.

          Nothing – absolutely nothing else has managed improvements greater than a few percent a century.

          Subsequent to the enlightment – all other experiments in political economy have FAILED – usually with copious amounts of blood.

          I would note that corporatism is not capitalism.

          Big government fails – regardless of what political label you attach to it.

          Whatever power you give government – will be coopted by some special interest.

          If not big business – then something else.

          The enlightenment solution you reject is limited government,

          Some 18th century enlightenment wisdom for you

          Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.
          Adam Smith

  11. I see few avenues to strike back at LefTech with respect to Trump, Parler, Gab, etc.

    The first is Section 4 of the Clayton Act which gives a cause of action to any business affected by violations of antitrust laws. The market niche and competitive advantage of Parler and Gab are free speech and unbiased moderation. The attacks of LefTech are explicitly trying to force Parler and Gab to change their business model, eroding that niche and advantage. Removing their access to web stores and servers for obviously pretextual reasons is anticompetitive on its face. Even if LefTech firms are not directly competing with Parler and Gab, this is obviously tacit collusion demonstrated by shared motives, shared pretext, shared methods, share goals, and a close proximity in time leading to an inference of causation.

    The second cause of action is to sue LefTech for violation of civil rights using the obscure but plausible Public Square doctrine that whenever a private firm makes a space available for free speech, it surrenders the right to censor speech it doesnt like. This is a long shot but a shot worth taking. Another avenue along this line is Conspiracy to Interfere with Civil Rights.

    Another First Amendment argument is that LefTech has become a de facto propaganda arm of the Democrat Party which, on any given day, holds a large amount of government power at the local, state, bureacratic and federal level, and as of January 20th an extraordinary amount of power.

    Even losing these cases will put the issues before the American public with a view toward Constitutional amendments.

    1. Robert M. Miller,

      Your whole argument can be refuted by one simple statement.

      No “Lefttech” company is obligated to carry any of the apps or messages of anyone using their platforms or system. No law compels them to.

      1. Svalez, look beyond the First Amendment and concentrate on concept of monopoly and anti-trust. Then you can catch up with the rest of us.

        1. Anonymous, monopolies are irrelevant. Any new company that is split from such monopoly would still be able to censor and ban people that violate their policy, because anyone wanting to use their service will have the choice to agree to their terms and conditions or not.

          1. I am fine to leave most of this up to the markets

            Amazon breached a contract – they will owe significant damages.
            It is likey that Twitter collaborated in that – if established they will owe enormous damages.

            Amazon did not follow its own TOS – there was far more offensive content on Twitter and Amazon did not even notify then.
            Further Parler did take down the content Amazon objected to within hours.

            Nobody allows actually illegal content.

  12. Even if well-intentioned, it’s actually impossible to censor legally. Americans exercising legal First Amendment activity will just create their own code-words and language that makes it impossible. In more recent history, Rock and Roll musicians successfully defeated this unAmerica practice. George Carlin’s “7 Dirty Words” video (YouTube) showed how impossible it is. These types of unconstitutional authorities can never be legitimized in a court of law, which then creates an incentive for CoinTelPro style blacklisting – where federal authorities commit felonies and violate their oath of office to silence legal First Amendment activity. Specialized “judicial warrants” could be created for very narrow cases of legitimate incitement to violence, heavily supervised by judges. Censorship is always bad policy and counter-productive. This type unconstitutional-authoritarianism only makes matters more dangerous, it actually proves the point being made by the extremists.

    1. Sophistry. The ability of people to adopt code words to evade censorship is irrelevant to a free speech argument. That’s like saying people may peaceably assemble but only in a 100 square foot space 30 miles north of Fairbanks, AK.

      Free speech means free: speaking practically anything you want, anywhere you want, any time you want. It means the ability to make full throated arguments, not encoded terms only a few people understand.

      And you are even ignoring the likelihood the enemies of free speech will learn those codes and crack down on them.

      Any suppression of free speech is all suppression of free speech. The futility of censorship isnt a good reason to not fight it.

      1. Robert M. Miller,

        “ Free speech means free: speaking practically anything you want, anywhere you want, any time you want. It means the ability to make full throated arguments, not encoded terms only a few people understand.”

        Nothing wrong with that assertion at all. But exercising free speech also involves responsibility for what you say. You can say whatever you want, but you also have to deal with the consequences of exercising it. Criticism, harassment, denigration, ostracism, etc. all of those consequences come with exercising free speech. Inciting a riot thru inflammatory speech. You are free to do that, but you’re also liable for the consequences.

        Free speech also means being accountable for what you say. This is one big reason why the Miranda warning includes, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

  13. “Big Tech” is providing ample grounds for break-up on anti-trust grounds, as well as for government regulation as a public entity. It could end up as one of the most idiotic acts ever. Beware the law of unintended consequences

  14. antifa and blm riots were coordinated on social media! I agree social media is NOT the government. But as usual the defense of taking down certain platforms reeks of Dem hypocrisy. The solution is to remove the 230 protections. As usual The Republicans were asleep at the switch when the tome was right for such an action.

  15. It’s hard to know where to start. All the “Rights” in the Bill of Rights may have been intended to protect us from government, but as I understand it, that Rule/Section 230 is a government-originated legal provision that gives the social media companies special protections that other private companies don’t have (freedom from being taken to court by an aggrieved party). So I suggest that Rule/Section 230 should be eliminated. Secondly, it is pretty darned evident that Apple, Google, and Amazon colluded to effectively destroy Parler. Now, I haven’t monitored Parler, so I can’t say for sure what took place there, but I understand that Parler did eliminate posts that may have called for violence – just not, apparently, in as extreme a fashion as demanded by Google, Apple, and Amazon. The other thing to keep in mind is that Twitter, the main competition for Parler, I understand has hosted users calling for violence – for one thing, I understand that the Ayatollah of Iran has called for “Death to Israel.” That sounds like a call to violent action to me, but apparently that is OK with the powers-that-be at Twitter, Google, Apple, and Amazon. I am shocked that what I would have formerly considered as “liberal” pundits/politicians seem to think this arbitrary censorship/destruction of a smaller firm (Parler) is acceptable.

    1. Section 230 is an FCC regulation. Enforcement is therefore at the discretion of the FCC which will soon be in Biden’s hands. There is a slim possibility of a private suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, but that is a Hail Mary pass.

      Section 230 has the legitimate goal of protected internet forums from liability for what its users say. They cannot possibly monitor and control all users. The issue is that LefTech has become de facto publishers stripping them of 230 protections. Trump should have done this years ago. This is another example of Trump’s failures to drain the swamp and fight his enemies. The censorship of right leaning speech, automatic rebuttals from left wing “fact checkers,” different standards for left wing violent speech all demonstrate they are publishers of left wing propaganda, and are not merely hosts of social interactions.

      1. Robert Miller, getting rid of section 230 protections won’t do a thing in regards to those companies exercising their policies. In fact getting rid of section 230 will encourage more censorship because now that liability protection being gone they won’t risk being sued and therefore choose to ban problem commenting. Turley’s own blog will be subject to lawsuits and he will just decide to shut down his blog rather than face lawsuits.

        These companies, including Turley’s blog are not obligated to have these forums at all. The government can’t force them to maintain them. None of the commenters are protected by the first amendment in any of these forums. Thats what they don’t get. No court will force any of these companies to adhere to the first amendment. Ironically forcing these companies to carry these commenters messages is a violation of THEIR first amendment rights.

        1. I’m listening. I have heard before that closing down section 230 is a problem. Does the issue of blocking competition emerge if you are discussing a utility? Are there exceptions here? The comparison is always made to the telephone lines. Or
          power lines. I get that they are a company, and that competition would eliminate much of the difficulty, but that is what Parler attempted to do, and the collusion of the big guys destroyed innovation. (What they usually do is just buy up their competition.)

  16. Time to return to late night nutjob radio on the shortwave…those of you too young to remember the ‘Golden Age’ of conspiracy theories, when you hid in the corner of your dark room, turned on the red light to minimize any possibility of exposure, and listened to the Heath kit shortwave…yes, JFK was a Papist, killed by the Mob because Papa Joe stroked before he could deliver on his promises, how Nelson ‘Rocky’ was to head the New World Order before his heart quit while on top of his mistress, how Hitler was kept alive by special fluids in Santiago…

  17. Several European countries including Germany have special IT police units to search for and track down posters of “hate speech”. The communist world would have envied having such ability to track down dissent. And the best thing is that it is coming soon to a locale near YOU!

    Just wait until “critical legal theory” is used to interpret the 1st amendment.


  18. Professor, you are amazing. Right wing all the way. The Republicans who have crafted this free speech scam are all for jailing journalists add looking the other way when journalists are murdered. Republicans support allowing bakers to allowed to refuse service. Republicans who talk and work to destroy every reasonable regulation of corporate behavior now want Google and Facebook to be regulated! Google and Facebook are not the government! You know that. You know that the first amendment only applies to government (state and federal) action. Or maybe you don’t. You do tend to sculpt your “knowledge” of the law to fit the right wing agenda. I don’t remember you always being this way but you are now. Very disappointing.

    You don’t care about free speech any more the the Republicans do. You want to distract from the treason that occurred last week incited by the President and supported and enabled by many Republicans in and outside of Congress and has continued to fester. Trump lost the election.

    1. “You don’t care about free speech”

      Jonathan clearly states why he does care about free speech.

      You, on the other hand, just demonstrated that you don’t care about free speech.


      1. Oh look, Big Mess…, he’s right.

        [Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance.[1] This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one’s native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.[2]]

        You’re a tool.

    2. “Indeed, they sought immunity on the false claim that they were not making editorial decisions or engaging viewpoint regulation.”

      All you need to know.

      1. “Not making editorial decisions or engaging in viewpoint regulation”…violation of contract with We the People, right?

    3. “The Republicans who have crafted this free speech scam”

      What part is a scam ? Big Tech is engaged in massive censorship.

      I would suggest that those of you on the left think seriously about this – which you clearly have not. It will not work.
      What it will do is drive us FARTHER apart.

      If you shut down Parler – people will move to Gab. If you shut that down, there will be a peer2peer alternative that you can not shut down.

      The only thing you are succeeding in doing is empowering the most extreme on both sides.

      We are all better off in a true marketplace of ideas – even ones that we do not like.

      “are all for jailing journalists”
      That would be Obama – It is the Obama DOJ that issued search warrants and spied on several Journalists.

      “add looking the other way when journalists are murdered.”
      I have no idea what you are talking about – but it is states that enforce laws against murder.

      “Republicans support allowing bakers to allowed to refuse service.”
      Yes – that is free speech.

      “Republicans who talk and work to destroy every reasonable regulation of corporate behavior”
      I will support any regulation that you can prove has an actual benefit. Todate that would be exactly ZERO.

      Pick any major regulation that claims to accomplish some wonderful thing and show me where it has disrupted a pre-existing statistical trend ? By the time Government acts on any issue, it is already well on its way to resolution in the marketplace.

      “now want Google and Facebook to be regulated!”
      Nope, we just do not want them to have special protections that the rest of the publishing industry does not.

      The special legal protections that tech giants have – that allowed them to become so big were specifically because they claimed NOT to be publishers – that they did not curate content or atleast that they did not do so any more than government is allowed to.

      Removing Section 230 protections will subject Google and FB to defamation lawsuits when they publish defamatory material – just like the Washington Post. If you wish to engage in censorship – which you beleive they should be able to do, then they are also responsible for the content they allow to be published.

      Frankly I think we are better with S230 protections in place and Social Media Platforms subject to the same neutral platform requirements as government.

      What you CAN NOT have is the freedom to censor with no responsibility for the content you publish.

      “Google and Facebook are not the government!”
      True, though increasingly they act like it.
      Regardless, isn’t it the left that has told us to constantly fear oligarchy ? Why are you defending oligarchy ?

      More importantly – you want Google and FB to be your own private left wing nut “safe space” – fine.

      Why are you shutting down Parlor ?

      “You know that. You know that the first amendment only applies to government (state and federal) action.”
      The problem is that GOVERNMENT has provided Social Media with special Legal protections that do not exist for others.

      If i defame you – I can be sued – I have no first amendment protection.
      If I publish the defamation of others – i can be sued – there is no first amendment protection for defamation.

      But if Big Tech publishes defamatory content – it is protected.
      The plain language of the DMCA grants that protection in return for providing a neutral public platform.

      “Or maybe you don’t. You do tend to sculpt your “knowledge” of the law to fit the right wing agenda. I don’t remember you always being this way but you are now. Very disappointing.”

      What is it that you think that Trump or Republicans want ? Only the left is looking to “regulate” Big tech.
      Nor is the right looking to shut it down. What they want is for Big Tech to have to play by the same rules as the Washington Post or the New York Times.

      I would further note – isn;t the left the big advocates of anti-monopoly and unfair trade practices ?

      Why are YOU supporting the efforts of Bif Tech to shut down their competitors like Parlor ?

      “You don’t care about free speech any more the the Republicans do.”
      Absolutely – once upon a time – in my lifetime, Republicans were more likely to wish to see free speech restricted and free speech was a core principle of the left. The ACLU was the cutting edge advocate for free speech cases.

      Today the tides have turned – it is the left that is engaged in MacCarthism and the right advocating for free speech.

      The right was wrong in the past. The left is wrong today.

      “You want to distract from the treason”
      Treason is defined in the constitution.
      Please actually read it.

      It is defined there SPECIFICALLY to avoid idiotic nonsense such as this.

      ” that occurred last week incited by the President and supported and enabled by many Republicans in and outside of Congress and has continued to fester. Trump lost the election.”

      Then you should not object to a third party audit of the election ?

      What you saw last week was the result of a lawless election process that a plurality of the public does not trust.
      That mistrust has been caused by the process by which the election was conducted.

      You claim Trump lost 60+ cases – that is correct. Many of those cases were just to get discovery – to enquire further into the actual data on the election. We conduct elections in public. If Government is hiding the election process – then government is not legitimate.

      Ultimately the public WILL find out what really occured during the election.

      If you are so certain that you won the election – why are you behaving as if you LOST ?

      I would note that few of those protesting last week sought to install Trump. They sought an audit of the election.
      Not only does that sound democratic to me.
      It sounds like something that should ALWAYS occur.

      1. John say, these companies are perfectly within their rights to censor anybody who violates the terms and conditions that they agreed to.

        Everyone who signed on to those platforms agreed to abide by those rules.

        The first amendment doesn’t protect you from these private companies at all. The first amendment only applies to the federal government, period.

        None of those companies can violate your first amendment rights. It’s impossible. Getting rid of section 230 liability protections doesn’t stop them from censorship or banning people. In fact they will censor and ban more so they are not liable to be sued.

        There is a scam involving this argument.

        None of these platforms is legally obligated to carry the president’s message or anyone else’s. You can’t force a newspaper to carry your message either. That’s what happens in countries with two bit dictators. Not here.

        This is not about freedom of speech. This is about a business decision made by private companies. They are not the federal government.

      2. Here’s our self proclaimed “Libertarian” advocating for government control of the business practice of a private company. “Trump” is a bigger principle than “Freedom” for “Libertarians” like him.

      3. John say,

        “ You claim Trump lost 60+ cases – that is correct. Many of those cases were just to get discovery – to enquire further into the actual data on the election. We conduct elections in public. If Government is hiding the election process – then government is not legitimate.”

        The big problem with that argument is that they didn’t have any evidence to present. You can’t have discovery when you can’t present evidence you claim to have. The government has been very transparent about the process. Look at Georgia. There were TWO hand recounts, an audit of voting machines that confirmed the votes counted matched the paper trail.

        Claims that dominion software was tampered with were proved to be false in court. The reports touted as proof turned out to be not credible due to the sloppy reasoning in them.

        In PA none of the claims that they didn’t follow the law turned out to be false. I’ve read the evtire PA supreme court’s opinion detailing each complaint on its merits. They correctly interpreted the law and provided multiple details explaining their reasoning.

        Those rioters in the Capitol were not demanding an audit. They were intent on overturning the results by force or threats. Calling for VP Pence to be hanged and rounding up lawmakers is not “seeking an audit”. That’s by definition an insurrection.

        The cries of censorship and attacks on free speech are just a distraction from the attempt at forcibly subverting the election. It was an attempted coup. A badly organized one at least.

        Based on Turley’s own logic as he claims, that because 40% of voters believe the election was stolen an audit is in order, the calls for the president’s removal from office by 56% of voters should be addressed too.

        This election was not stolen. The belief that it has is based on the constant lying from the president and his enablers for months. It’s a belief based on a lie. It’s as simple as that.

    4. Google and Facebook have been granted government concessions with provisions, acting as utilities, not publishers. They have violated their agreements with the public. Their agreement should be null and void, and they should be sued. Who knows whether or not Trump lost the election: so many thousands of affidavits were ignored, so many obvious felonies blocked, so many courts wouldn’t even open the complaints. Regulation of corporate behavior isn’t the goal. Free speech is the goal. Monopolies are a problem, and so is breaking them up. To accuse Jonathan Turley of not caring about free speech is absurd ad hominem. Classifying all Republicans with the”right wing” pejorative is dangerous stereotyping, and blaming any single person or group for last week’s tragic next episode in our long season of national riots in cities is a childish oversimplification bordering on a whine. All Americans are sickened and disgusted by the violence, President Trump included.

    5. All discussion of law is “sculpted”, naturally. The law is the law. It’s the interpretation, the “sculpting”, that serves us.
      “The law is not always the same shape. Truth is a hard deer to hunt.” -Stephen St. Vincent Benet , By the Waters of Babylon

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