Amid its efforts to ward off censorship-worried users of Twitter, the social media app Speak released its own “Declaration of Internet Independence.” Although it sometimes looks like a gadget, Parler calls it a “plan to revert to the original view of the Internet.”
At the end of May, Parler launched its #Twexit campaign following a heated online dispute between Twitter and President Donald Trump. Twitter has reported and verified Trump’s comments on George Floyd’s civil rights protests in Minnesota – leading Trump to call for the removal of Chapter 230 for the social media platform. This revocation would mean that Twitter would lose its immunity from prosecution if controversial material were tweeted.
Founded in 2018, Speaking claims over a million users with a proclaimed commitment to free speech. The social media platform does not mine or sell user data and never censor content based on politics or ideology. Following his concerns about the Trump incidents against Twitter, Parler has also reportedly set his sights on another tech giant – Google – for allegedly violate the privacy of its users.
Speaking’s #Twexit movement was launched on May 28 and calls on disgruntled Twitter users to ‘vote with their feet’ and quit the most powerful and ever-present platform.
Referring to Twitter’s sanctioning of Trump’s tweets as a form of “technofascism,” the minds behind Speak presented their published statement in two parts: Internet independence declaration and a bill of rights. As Parler’s announcement states, “The Declaration sets out grievances about censorship and data abuse by big tech companies, while the Bill of Rights declares the free and permissionless nature that the Internet must be able to use in order to thrive. “
Speaking’s statement begins by mimicking the language of the original American document from which it takes its name – a technique that initially looks more like mockery than a serious technical or political statement: “When in the course of technological development it becomes necessary to free people to reject the terms of service that put them in touch with a platform, and to reclaim their constitutional and human rights, our great American traditions call on us to declare the causes that lead to separation.
From there, the statement lays out the case of Speak Up Against Twitter: “Technofascists claim that their Orwellian quest for ‘truth’ is in our best interest and the greatest good. But Tyrants are no better than Elsworth Toohey (the villain from Ayn Rand’s novel, The fountain head), forcing the people to abandon our principles as they seek to increase their power.
After a call for more users to join the #Twexit movement, the Declaration enters into its Bill of Rights: “The Internet was created to be a place of endless promises, made possible by ethics, enlightened self-interest and the common good, and not by compulsion, coercion or force … had to be a place of true equality where identity offers no privilege. “
Arguing that tech giants had failed to provide such an environment, Parler and its users turned to their statement to make clear their desire to break away from traditional social media. Meanwhile, the resulting hustle and bustle serves as good publicity for a small social media platform looking to thrive at a controversial time.