483: Tech Adventures; A Strip Club On The Edge Of Town

Imagine a strip club on the edge of town.

Some towns find the presence of a strip club within their boundaries to be objectionable, and I can certainly understand why. There’s something unsavory about a business modeled on forcing women to take their clothes off in front of an audience. Citizens who don’t want a strip club in their town have many options at their disposal. They can resort to legal means to revoke the club’s alcohol and performance venue permits, they can rewrite the tax code in such a way that the taxes on the strip club become exorbitant, or they can launch a smear campaign against the establishment in hopes of driving it out of town.

But what if all of these attempts fail? What if, in spite of public pressure and the best attempts made by the town’s citizens, the strip club remains? What options are left?

Suppose that the proprietor of a much larger, and more socially acceptable, competitor to the strip club decided to take matters into his own hands. He takes a bulldozer, drives it to the strip club, and proceeds to raze the establishment to the ground.

Would this bar owner be acting in a legal fashion, or would the owners of the strip club be right to sue him for the damage which he had done to their property? Most people would say that the bar owner was definitely in the wrong. Private businesses do not have a legal right to physically destroy their competitors.

But what if we take this situation out of the realm of strip clubs and bars, and think about its implications in the digital sphere? As a matter of fact, something very much like our strip club story happened last month when tech giants Google, Apple and Amazon decided to destroy the social media website Parler. The broad power which these tech companies possess enabled them to do this effectively, and with impunity.

The article linked to above explains that Amazon was not held legally accountable for kicking Parler offline, because Parler violated the terms of service. You know, those terms of service that pop up whenever you’re signing up for something, but that you never read? Let me fill you in on what they say. Here’s the short version; you’re screwed, we can do whatever the hell we want, we make these rules up as we go, and we don’t have to tell you about the rule changes before we make them.

Moreover, the fact that Parler was removed from the internet for doing almost exactly the same thing that Facebook was doing is a real head scratcher. It doesn’t feel like the removal of Parler was an exercise in judicious decision making, but an exercise in raw power. If the actions taken against Parler had been taken against a physical establishment, rather than a website, the outcry against the companies which perpetrated these actions would have been almost unanimous.

I’ve never been on Parler. I’m sure it’s a total gutter, but I also believe that it has the right to function within the law, just as every other business does. What the big tech companies showed by shutting down Parler is that they are a law unto themselves. A central role of government is to provide oversight and arbitration between companies and individuals. In the case of big tech, the government has abdicated this role to the corporations. The tech companies are not merely above the law, they are the law.

Ultimately, the government must take back the role of legal arbitrator in the tech industry in order to protect both smaller tech companies and individual consumers. But until that happens, it is up to the individual consumers to be responsible in the ways that they are using technology.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing some strategies that I have been researching and implementing towards that end.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

23 thoughts on “483: Tech Adventures; A Strip Club On The Edge Of Town

  1. Frankly I’ve given up hope. The United States in the first week of Biden went down the gurgler and there’s no going back. It’s been astonishing quick. Everyone is saying it was terrible that the Capital was stormed. Personally I wish they’d finished off the job – looking now at what has happened. Sorry America – you got what you voted for and that’s it now for a good 50/60 (at least) years.

  2. Looking forward to your suggestions. It’s worse than a simple monopoly because these are not typical competitive businesses just offering a product. They build massive dossiers of information on even people who are not their customers, and they surreptitiously track everywhere you go on the internet, and then they tailor what you are shown, and not just to get you to buy things, but to change your thoughts and opinions into conformity with today’s version of new think, newspeak, etc. It’s beyond creepy, but amazingly most people are so addicted to their “products” that they don’t care. These companies are visionary activists with unchecked power wittingly shaping the entire culture and even the very neurological structure of your brain. This sounds insane when you spell it out, but it’s all established fact.

  3. I don’t know much about the situation, and I’ve never used Parler. But my sense was that the big tech companies you mention were essentially serving as the host for Parler to run its business by providing space on its servers or enabling people to download the app from its app stores. Would a better analogy be that the strip club was paying a landlord to be on the landlord’s property, and the renter (strip cub/Parler) did something that the lease says they could not do. Doesn’t the landlord have the right to end the lease? And if people believe in capitalism and freedom, shouldn’t the government stay out of it? If Parler really wants its voice to be heard, then shouldn’t it build its own set of servers, and not rely on the government to intervene. And this is coming from someone who is a big fan of socialism…

    • Ah, interesting. Let’s assume for the moment that you are right. This still leaves us with several interesting points. 1) You would never sign a lease where the landlord explicitly stated that he could throw you out at any time, and for any reason, but that’s exactly what you agree to when you are signing terms of service. 2) There is a well defined, legal path which landlords must follow when evicting tenants. Any landlord who did not follow this path would be liable to face serious legal repurcussions. There is no such framework when it comes to tech. The companies just do what they want. 3) Building your own servers is an interesting idea, but the cost of such a move for a startup company would likely be prohibitive. Saying that startup companies should build their own servers is a great example of pay to play capitalism, and entirely antithetical to the socialist ideas which you espouse. 4) Facebook was used in much the same way as Parler, so why was there a discrepancy in the way the two companies were treated?

      That’s probably not a complete response, but it’s what immediately popped up in my brain.

      • you mentioned in your post that Parler violated the terms of service. So if a tenant violated a specific clause in a rental contract I would guess the landlord has the right to throw them out. That’s not, as you argue above: “throwing you out at any time, and for any reason”.

        That seems a pretty broad statement, that “tech companies can do whatever they want.” I would just think logically that such behavior is not possible.

        And these sort of problems that you are pointing out can be partially blamed on capitalism, and its win at all costs attitude.

        and I think Facebook uses its own servers…

      • I think I’ve already dealt with all of those points in my post and/or comments. If you think I’m wrong, please do some research on it! I see your point on Facebook. However, removing the site from the servers was only part of the action, Parler was removed from Google Play and the App Store, while Facebook was not. That’s not a server issue.

  4. These giant tech companies do not have to respect the law because they are either a) above it or b) writing it. I can think of only one other organization that successfully (for a while anyway) wielded such global power – and it really didn’t end well (although it did end right). Watch out for Bezos growing a strange little moustache…

    • There’s actually a fascinating book called “IBM and the Holocaust” which details the partnership between IBM and the Nazis. The Nazis needed data points to be able to target Jews for extermination, and IBM partnered with them to provide those data points. Exactly the type of relationship which is happening in China between ByteDance and the CCP. Think about that the next time you log onto Tiktok.

  5. I am in 100% agreement. The thing was they wanted to do that for a long time, Then as the former President finally got himself in enough hot water and couldn’t go back, the pulled the plug. It’s not only wrong but dishonest as well.

    Laugh a while See what happens

  6. Pingback: All The News On The Haps With Herb – Well, Most Of The News – Well, Some Of The News – And A Cool Thing That Happened Today – The Haps With Herb

  7. I think Parler is viewed as an alternative to Twitter. I know a number of ‘right leaning’ Twitter users who migrated to Parler because they figured that sooner or later, they might post something that would get them banned from Twitter. What that something might be is hard to pin down, though. Tucker Carlson is one of the ones who posts on both Twitter and Parler – a don’t put all your eggs in one basket approach.

    Amazon justified removing Parler because it said it had seen “an increase in posts that encouraged and incited violence that Parler is unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove.” That is what violates Amazon’s terms of service. Over at Twitter, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei can tweet threats against Israel and the USA with impunity.

    Strange times for freedom of speech.

  8. Very good. There are those that need excuses for demolishing freedom of speech bit by tiny bit, for reasons that are slowly, thanks to the brave that still exist, beginning to show the bigger picture or plan for restructuring to those whom have eyes to see. Furthermore, no one, not a single individual should ever be deplatformed & silenced whether or not we agree with them. If we dont want to hear them, we can choose not to, not have the decision made for us. After all, it’s not for us, it’s for that bigger plan, whatever that is exactly. The dumbing down by distraction, lack of access to truths & the softening & disarmament of the masses, combined with a reduction in socialiIzing,
    combined w/ curfews & lockdowns, perhaps, would be a good place to begin. Just an opinion, I suppose.

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