35 votes

Amazon will remove the Parler site from AWS

14 comments

  1. [6]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    It is way too late in the night, but I’m not asleep because I spent the past few hours looking through Parler. I didn’t realize until now that it is (partially) publicly viewable. I assumed you...

    It is way too late in the night, but I’m not asleep because I spent the past few hours looking through Parler. I didn’t realize until now that it is (partially) publicly viewable. I assumed you needed a login and/or the app.

    I won’t link anything here because I’m not about to drive traffic to the site and it will hopefully be gone soon anyway, but holy hell was it scary. I now understand the term “doomscrolling” in a way I didn’t before. There were few outright calls for violence but lots and lots of coded ones. The QAnon stuff feels like an elaborate ARG that people are playing without realizing it’s a game. Also, either Parler is fudging its numbers, or their userbase is unsettlingly large. Given how many people voted for Trump, I think it’s probably the latter. Posts regularly had thousands of comments and hundreds of thousands or even millions of views.

    Worst of all, though, was the misinformation. I saw a post with the most flagrantly fake “leaked memo from Nancy Pelosi’s laptop”. In fact, I think it was actually meant to be a joke, but people accepted it unquestioningly. Nearly every post about the events at the Capitol were spinning it as a deep state, antifa, or BLM setup — sometimes all three at once. The posts that didn’t try to claim it was staged to make Trump and Trump supporters look bad instead treated it like it was the beginning of “something more”. There were a lot of vague references to “what’s coming” and hinting at “big changes” that made me very uneasy. I think people are at their scariest when they are desperate and their time is running out, and that is very much the case with the people who idolize Trump.

    I have read about all this kind of stuff secondhand and I get snippets of it from the news, but I’m not on social media besides Tildes, so this was my first up close and personal look at it, and it was pretty horrifying to see the informational and moral bubble that these people are in. It was garbage, and I don’t use that term lightly. There were COVID conspiracy theories, fake electoral maps showing Trump winning almost every single state, and a good amount of conspiratorial antisemitism. The signal to noise ratio on legitimate news to just plain made up bullshit is tipped very heavily in favor of bullshit.

    Of course, they would say the exact same thing about us, and do with striking regularity. With the recent ban announcements for Trump and Parler itself, nearly all of the most recent posts were about how leftists and Big Tech are co-opting information itself, destroying free speech, and are turning us into fascist Nazi Germany — a fully unironic comparison, mind you.

    Like the events at the Capitol, there is a lot on the site that has some spectacle to it or that is easily mockable. That can pull focus away from its much darker elements. Even the spread of misinformation is a huge deal on its own, but the way that dovetails with violent action is what’s really terrifying. The violent action feels justified to these people from an inside perspective because the misinformation is so egregious and so slanted that it makes the violence feel morally right. The people calling for or hinting at violence appeared to believe that they are saving democracy from sociopathic pedophiles who stole an election. They believe their enemies are so vile and so subhuman that they are deserving of death.

    One of the first posts I saw on there — what kicked off my hours of doomscrolling — said something like “let’s layer the ground with Democratic bodies”.

    That site cannot shut down soon enough.

    34 votes
    1. [4]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      This is what gets me. Can it really be this easy? It seems like Trump's entire strategy is yelling "no, you!" and it works. Fake news was a term for fake articles planted to make Trump look good....

      Of course, they would say the exact same thing about us, and do with striking regularity.

      This is what gets me. Can it really be this easy? It seems like Trump's entire strategy is yelling "no, you!" and it works. Fake news was a term for fake articles planted to make Trump look good. Now his supporters yell it at the frickin' New York Times. There's plenty of obvious cases of them trying to keep potential Democrat voters from casting their votes. But now it's them who rigged the elections. Earlier in 2020 it was Democrats downplaying the danger of the "China virus". Now the virus is a hoax and if you wear a mask you're liberal scum.

      I know all this stuff because I hang around English speaking sites but somehow the Qanon bullshit spreads to Europe and probably much of the world. The pattern is simple: If your right-wing fantasies are rejected in a democratic process, just blame your opponents of exactly the thing you're doing until you believe it. If that's hard to do, pray on it and continue.

      19 votes
      1. [3]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I'm as baffled as you are. I have family members who I used to think of as kind, nice, thoughtful people who now talk about the MSM conspiratorially and think that COVID is still a hoax despite...

        I'm as baffled as you are. I have family members who I used to think of as kind, nice, thoughtful people who now talk about the MSM conspiratorially and think that COVID is still a hoax despite some of them already having had it themselves. I wish I knew why they were susceptible to this. The usual argument focuses on intelligence, but I find that hollow. These are smart people. I think the roots lie more in prejudice.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          It certainly has nothing to do with "intelligence". It's weaponized psychology and everyone is susceptible to it, including me. It's pure chance that I ended up on this side of the discussion....

          It certainly has nothing to do with "intelligence". It's weaponized psychology and everyone is susceptible to it, including me. It's pure chance that I ended up on this side of the discussion. Living in a different social circle, I would be spewing COVID conspiracy theories like crazy.

          I'm panicking whenever I try to think of even a theoretical solution. Like a real-world, actual solution that takes the messiness of politics into account. The closest thing to a silver lining I can find is betting on education. Once the mechanics of these manipulations are better known, more people would check for them before believing something, right?

          But then again, that seems like wishful thinking. People don't want to check things that feel convenient. They just want them to be true. And that's exactly what these movements give them: The most convenient truth. How do you compete with that?

          10 votes
          1. streblo
            Link Parent
            The truth of the matter is accepting how programmable people are. We're basically meat-software that can overwrite it's own binary on the fly. The fact we haven't blown ourselves up yet is pretty...

            The truth of the matter is accepting how programmable people are. We're basically meat-software that can overwrite it's own binary on the fly. The fact we haven't blown ourselves up yet is pretty astonishing.

            For the first time in history, people have the ability to opt-out of general consensus programming and opt-in to an alternative that seeks to replace it. Then they just try and pull more people into their orbit. It's a literal political cancer or virus and the best solution that isn't grossly authoritarian is going to be making people more resistant to it which I think is a process that is starting to become underway. Events like last week do a lot to 'inoculate' people.

            7 votes
    2. rogue_cricket
      Link Parent
      The quotes from the screenshots in the article were bad enough for me. These people are literally calling for the systemic assassination of every American Democratic politician that they do not...

      The quotes from the screenshots in the article were bad enough for me. These people are literally calling for the systemic assassination of every American Democratic politician that they do not like and giving specific dates, times, and locations. I am usually not pro-prison, but these people absolutely need to be in a place where they can't harm anyone for a while. They need to be identified and their communities need to be warned about the violent ideologues among them.

      I saw another post recently about how they are now calling for bombing Amazon data centres. I'm sure leaving that up will endear them to other potential hosts. It's very clear that if the host were to defy them in even the slightest way, the host would become an instant target. Any host who accepts this site is putting themselves and their employees in serious danger.

      8 votes
  2. [6]
    wcerfgba
    Link
    How did we (as a society) get to a point where we consider words inciting violence to be so dangerous? I'm not trying to argue that they aren't dangerous, but I am struggling to understand how...

    How did we (as a society) get to a point where we consider words inciting violence to be so dangerous? I'm not trying to argue that they aren't dangerous, but I am struggling to understand how people can read something like "X should be shot/hanged/burned alive/..." and agree with it, let alone be moved to act on it. I feel like the problem isn't with the speech itself, but the members of the audience having too much willingness to take the idea or belief into themselves and lend support to it. By analogy, imagine if anyone could just save any file they want to your computer, that's clearly ridiculous, but so many people seem to have no 'firewall' for their brain -- why is that the case, how do we fix it, and if we can fix it, does it mean 'language which incites violence' is no longer a problem?

    7 votes
    1. [5]
      nacho
      Link Parent
      I think this view underestimates the power of speech. People are easily convinced, have their minds changed, trust public figures and accept unevidenced claims as fact. With mass communication,...

      I think this view underestimates the power of speech.

      People are easily convinced, have their minds changed, trust public figures and accept unevidenced claims as fact.

      With mass communication, it's easy to forget just how many people a million readers/viewers are. How many stadiums that fills. Considering that research suggests between 1 of every 10 people and 1 in every 20 people have personality disorders consistent with serious psychiatric illness, when we say something publicly and are aware of the potential consequences of so speaking, it's obvious we're morally responsible for the predictable consequences of our actions in the very least.


      The pen is much mightier than the sword. Just look at how effective cases of mass suggestion has been in highly educated western democracies in the last 5 years.

      If you have an audience, incitement (even in vague terms) is much, much more effective than committing a crime oneself. You know someone will heed your call to action, even if it's indirect an vague to circumvent legal culpability.

      (I'm not suggesting those following the calls aren't entirely culpable for their own actions. Many people can be culpable (both legally and morally) for the same crime. Incitement is textbook "aiding and abetting". That doesn't change when means of mass communication are used.)

      9 votes
      1. [4]
        wcerfgba
        Link Parent
        Thanks for your reply @nacho . My intention was not to underestimate the power of speech, rather I am trying to understand why it is so powerful. If we leave aside the emotional effects that...

        Thanks for your reply @nacho . My intention was not to underestimate the power of speech, rather I am trying to understand why it is so powerful. If we leave aside the emotional effects that speech can have on an audience [1] (e.g. members of minority groups will feel unsafe and unwelcome when confronted with hate speech) and consider incitement specifically, it seems to me that the power of a speech-act is equal to the probability that it will incite the audience to act on that speech in the future. But it is not enough to simply hear/read something to cause someone to go and act on that speech -- I do not go and do everything that people tell me as soon as I hear/read it without any question. If someone acts following on from being audience to a speech-act is a function of both the speech-act and their suggestibility. So my question is: why are people so suggestible? Have we always been this suggestible or has it gotten worse? There seems to be a lot of talk about free speech and where we draw the line on what speech is permissible, but suggestibility is the very important other side of the coin. Shouldn't we also be working to make ourselves and others less suggestible as well? Isn't there a responsibility on government and educational institutions to make the population more resilient against suggestion, just as the government are supposed to be responsible for deciding where we draw the line with free speech?

        [1] To clarify, I am using 'audience' to refer to all people who encounter a speech-act, vs. a speaker's 'intended audience', or the large audience of followers that influencers and celebrities have access to through (social) media.

        9 votes
        1. [3]
          nacho
          Link Parent
          I agree with what you're saying here. Now I read your first comment very differently :) I think we're much less suggestible now than previously. I think you've hit the nail on the head: It's an...

          I agree with what you're saying here. Now I read your first comment very differently :)

          I think we're much less suggestible now than previously. I think you've hit the nail on the head: It's an issue of education. It takes generations for education to show full effects: Public schooling ends for almost everyone in their 20s, for many much earlier. Then that generation as a whole is left with the level of knowledge and teaching methods available at that point in time for the next 50+ years.

          There are questions regarding what level of coercion is appropriate. It's obvious that society would benefit greatly both in terms of social competence, skills and democratically by having say 2 months of mandatory high school-level education in intervals throughout life. Say at 30, 45, 60 and 75. We're talking basic competency courses regarding how society works, new technologies, and just updated knowledge after progress since being a teenager.

          People choose very different paths in life. It's easy to forget that for many, their most difficult and important theoretical test in life is getting a driver's license. Everyone has a right to vote, gets affected by mass communication and have various levels of engagement with civil society outside their immediate lives.

          There are substantial political dimensions to schooling curriculum. Politicians don't share the same aims for what skillset and values people are supposed to learn through school. For politicians this will necessarily be about reflecting their values. Not everyone seems to prioritize a thinking, empowered populace above other values during the limited time available.

          7 votes
          1. [2]
            wcerfgba
            Link Parent
            I haven't thought about it much before but I think you are right about continuing education throughout life as a way to keep critical thinking skills sharp. I have done some research and the...

            I haven't thought about it much before but I think you are right about continuing education throughout life as a way to keep critical thinking skills sharp. I have done some research and the keyword here seems to be 'lifelong learning' and there are a few organisations which promote this for older people like U3A, but I am struggling to find stuff which applies for employed persons learning in a non-professional context, i.e. learning things outside of how they help with career progression. I'd like to start a group locally. Maybe there is room for such lifelong learning groups online as well.

            5 votes
            1. nacho
              Link Parent
              For me Rotary International is probably the organization I first that comes to mind. Not sure what demographic gets involved depending on where you're located. They have a ton of clubs the Western...

              For me Rotary International is probably the organization I first that comes to mind. Not sure what demographic gets involved depending on where you're located. They have a ton of clubs the Western world over.

              4 votes
  3. jaylittle
    Link
    I signed up for Parler yesterday just so I could get a gander at what kind of crap my family was seeing and let me tell ya - wow. After the initial round of doom scrolling I just started mocking...

    I signed up for Parler yesterday just so I could get a gander at what kind of crap my family was seeing and let me tell ya - wow. After the initial round of doom scrolling I just started mocking people as actual liberals are in very short supply there. Shocking, I tell you. Absolutely shocking.

    1 vote