On Friday, the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the Firefox web browser, shared a list of additional actions intended to alter the “dangerous dynamics” of the internet, claiming that “the temporary silencing or permanent removal of bad actors from social media platforms” is not enough.
This week we saw the culmination of a four-year disinformation campaign orchestrated by the President. We have to acknowledge how the internet was misused to get here.
And we have to change it.https://t.co/gIVZHQPYT4
— Mozilla (@mozilla) January 8, 2021
“This week we saw the culmination of a four-year disinformation campaign orchestrated by the President,” Mozilla wrote. “We have to acknowledge how the internet was misused to get here.”
The attached article, penned by Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker and which appears on the Mozilla Foundation site’s blog, claims that “rampant use of the internet to foment violence and hate, and reinforce white supremacy is about more than any one personality.”
After criticizing the president’s “reprehensible” actions, the article then calls for more “solutions.”
“We need solutions that don’t start after untold damage has been done,” the essay continues. “Changing these dangerous dynamics requires more than just the temporary silencing or permanent removal of bad actors from social media platforms.”
According to the essay, additional “precise and specific actions” that platforms should commit to include the following:
- Reveal who is paying for advertisements, how much they are paying and who is being targeted.
- Commit to meaningful transparency of platform algorithms so we know how and what content is being amplified, to whom, and the associated impact.
- Turn on by default the tools to amplify factual voices over disinformation.
- Work with independent researchers to facilitate in-depth studies of the platforms’ impact on people and our societies, and what we can do to improve things.
The article concludes by calling for the building of a “better” internet.
Ironically, the Mozilla Foundation’s website states it “works to ensure the internet remains a public resource that is open and accessible to us all.”
On Friday, in an unprecedented step, Twitter suspended President Trump’s official account, along with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch, which have indefinitely suspended the president’s access on those platforms.
As a result, there has been much backlash.
“Big tech & social media platforms want to act like media orgs but don’t want to be held accountable with the rest of media,” wrote Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson. “Speech should be free whether you agree or not.”
“We are living Orwell’s 1984. Free-speech no longer exists in America. It died with big tech and what’s left is only there for a chosen few,” wrote President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. “This is absolute insanity!”
“Silencing speech is dangerous. It’s un-American. Sadly, this isn’t a new tactic of the Left. They’ve worked to silence opposing voices for years,” wrote U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We cannot let them silence 75M Americans. This isn’t the CCP.”
Also on Friday, Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), released a statement condemning Facebook and Twitter’s decision to suspend the president’s account, warning against “unchecked power” and the precedent it sets for other activists.
In addition, many have taken to alternative platforms to express their views.
On Saturday, Gab.com, the free speech friendly social network, said traffic has increased by more than 750 percent in the past few days, following the blacklisting of the president from most mainstream tech platforms.
In 2019, Mozilla banned Gab’s Dissenter extension — intended to “bring a free speech comment system to every site on the Internet” — from their browsers’ extension stores.
Meanwhile, Apple has removed social media platform Parler from its App Store, claiming the platform has not adequately implemented moderation policies that crack down on free speech.
Google banned Parler from its Android app store on Friday.
Google has removed social media platform Parler from its Play Store for Android devices, stating the app will remain suspended until it implements “robust” moderation policies that crack down on free speech. https://t.co/hh8TVttlsZ
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 9, 2021
“Sunday (tomorrow) at midnight Amazon will be shutting off all of our servers in an attempt to completely remove free speech from the internet,” said Parler CEO John Matze in a statement. “There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch. We prepared for events like this by never relying on Amazon’s proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products.”
“We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business, however Amazon, Google and Apple purposefully did this as a coordinated effort knowing our options would be limited and knowing this would inflict the most damage right as President Trump was banned from the tech companies,” continued Matze.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.