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How to kill an app with one click

Parler

Good morning! This Monday, Amazon crushed Parler and raised tricky questions about the internet, Black users are making Clubhouse better and how Trump's tweets get archived.

Also, some big news! Protocol | Enterprise launched today, our new home for all of our enterprise coverage. Check it out here, and sign up to receive our enterprise newsletter, news alerts and exclusive access to events and research.

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The Big Story

Deplatformed. And then some.

If Twitter (and Facebook and Snap and Shopify and Stripe and Campaign Monitor and Twitch and I'm sure I'm forgetting some) banning Trump was the nuclear option, then I'd call what AWS did to Parler the Thanos Option: snapping its fingers and causing instant and total obliteration.

  • Amazon told Parler over the weekend that it was kicking the social network off of AWS, BuzzFeed reported, effectively erasing it from the internet.
  • "There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch," CEO John Matze said. (Thank goodness I have a screenshot, because that post, like the rest of Parler, disappeared at midnight last night.)
  • Initially, Matze said it'd be easy to find a new provider. "We have many competing for our business," he said.
  • Fact check: not true. He later told Fox News that "every vendor, from text message services to email providers to our lawyers, all ditched us too on the same day." And every vendor they'd been talking to, he said, wasn't interested.

What Amazon did here feels different from Twitter banning an account or even Apple banning an app, and it raises interesting questions about how the internet should work and who should police it.

  • ISPs are largely prevented from hands-on regulation of the content that flows through their pipes. (Though as net neutrality continues to die, that's increasingly untrue. Which is ironic, given that the people fighting against net neutrality are also the ones mad at the companies kicking them off, but that's for another day.)
  • But AWS, which you could convincingly argue is just as crucial a part of internet infrastructure, can do exactly as it pleases. (Though admittedly it's easier to build and run your own servers than it is to build and run an ISP.)

This is another lesson in why rules are so important: They give you both power and cover to run your business the way you want. Apple, Google and Amazon all said they'd warned Parler before about content moderation.

  • The thing about having rules, though, is you have to enforce them. And the precedent here is a mess.
  • AWS just signed a big deal to host Twitter timelines, and there's plenty of violence and illegality being perpetrated there. Does AWS now have to shut down Twitter? Does Apple have to remove every app from the App Store that has objectionable content, which would mean basically everything that's not a weather app? Heck, there's a lot of bad stuff on Amazon, so let's throw it off AWS too!

There are no easy answers to any of this. But here's A Prediction: This is going to make a lot of companies start to think about how to be more self-reliant, subject to the whims and politics of AWS servers and Facebook APIs.

Not every company needs to worry about getting kicked off of AWS, obviously — just, you know, don't run a platform on which people openly discuss their plans for violent insurrection — but it's at least a little eye-opening how easily AWS can turn on you.

More Social

The @realDonaldTrump archive

Anna Kramer writes: Poof. The second Twitter banned Trump's personal account, his countless Tweets vanished, too. Sure, some people had the presence of mind to independently archive them all (this site is pretty thorough, and searchable!), but it raised a lot of urgent questions about how — and if — his tweets will be kept safe for the historical record.

  • Turns out, the National Archives has it covered. All of his Tweets (including deleted ones) from both the @POTUS account and the @realDonaldTrump account will be preserved forever in the future Trump presidential library, thanks to the Presidential Records Act.
  • The same act that requires preservation of official communications (emails, official documents, photographs, etc.), requires that the White House take responsibility for archiving his communication on Twitter.
  • The White House has been using a social media archiving tool to capture all of his Twitter communications, and those records will be given to the National Archives on Jan. 20, according to a statement from the public relations team at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Eventually, all of those Tweets will be permanently and publicly accessible, though the archives team didn't provide a date. Not to worry, future historians: You'll all be cursed with more to work with than you could possibly imagine.

People Are Talking

What the internet really needs isn't more deplatforming but more transparency, Mozilla's Mitchell Baker said:

  • "We need solutions that don't start after untold damage has been done. Changing these dangerous dynamics requires more than just the temporary silencing or permanent removal of bad actors from social media platforms."

Black users are making Clubhouse a more creative, fun place, and Black & Brown Founders' Aniyia Williams said that's no surprise:

  • "Ingenuity is the other side of being oppressed. At the end of the day, that's the thing that unites Black people. Being a have-not forces you to think and see the world differently, and it makes Black people naturally creative and creators in ways that they're not even trying."

The pipeline argument against diversity has to end, said Vue.ai's Ashwini Asokan:

  • "This whole thing that the pipeline [of women] does not exist is ridiculous. You've just got to not be biased."

Facebook's Will Cathcart tried to explain the whole WhatsApp privacy change, and said it's good that privacy is finally a feature people care about:

  • "We're in a competition on privacy with others and that's very good for the world. People should have choices in how they communicate and feel confident that no one else can see their chats."

A MESSAGE FROM MICRON

Micron A MESSAGE FROM MICRON

For Raj Hazra, who is senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications at Micron, there has never been a more thrilling time than this golden age of data. In this interview, Hazra describes how "we are now at the doorstep of taking things that we thought were science fiction and making them real, and it's only going to be exponentially faster going forward". Read more from Micron's Raj Hazra.

Coming This Week

It's CES 2021! Because not enough is happening in the tech world right now. This year's show is all virtual, and given *gestures broadly* everything happening right now, from politics to the pandemic, the show is likely to play host to a lot of conversations about what tech means in the world going forward. We also have a bunch of CES-related stuff coming this week, some of it right here in Source Code. So stay tuned.

San Francisco police are preparing for a pro-Trump protest at Twitter HQ today. Not that many employees are actually at the Market Street building these days.

Samsung has an event on Thursday, where it's likely going to announce the Galaxy S21. I say "likely," but you can already preorder the thing, so we can pretty safely assume.

In Other News

  • Intel may outsource production to TSMC and Samsung. Bloomberg reported that Intel has held talks with both companies, but may still keep production in-house. A final decision will be announced next week.
  • WarnerMedia got HBO Max on Amazon by extending its AWS contract, The Information reports. Andy Jassy, who was classmates with Jason Kilar at HBS, reportedly got involved in the discussions. In other HBO news, Warner will reportedly adjust how it pays filmmakers whose movies stream on HBO Max.
  • Cisco blocked Acacia from ditching their merger. Acacia had tried to terminate the $2.6 billion union on the grounds that Chinese regulatory approval hadn't been received in time. Cisco won a court order stopping it from doing so, arguing that Acacia was trying to walk away from the deal because its valuation had increased.
  • Chinese fintechs may be forced to share consumer loan data with the nation's central bank, Reuters reports. Ant, Tencent and JD.com are all likely targets. Separately, Ant will reportedly become a financial holding company, and may be forced to divest mutual aid platform Xiang Hu Bao.
  • Uganda reportedly blocked the App Store, Play Store and YouTube. That follows social media blocks in 2016, and comes ahead of elections this week.
  • NYC might regulate hiring algorithms. Proposed city council legislation would require companies to disclose to candidates when software has been used to assess them, and software sellers would have to perform annual audits to check for discrimination.

One More Thing

The deal of a lifetime?

It's either the deal of the century or daylight robbery, depending on how you feel about crypto: The owner of two New York bars, Scruffy Duffy's and Hellcat Annie's, will sell them both for 25 Bitcoins or 800 Ether. (As I write this, that's a little less than a million bucks, and Bitcoin's a slightly better deal.) If you do buy them, I recommend charging Bitcoin for booze, too. You might get rich again pretty fast.

A MESSAGE FROM MICRON

Micron A MESSAGE FROM MICRON

For Raj Hazra, who is senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications at Micron, there has never been a more thrilling time than this golden age of data. In this interview, Hazra describes how "we are now at the doorstep of taking things that we thought were science fiction and making them real, and it's only going to be exponentially faster going forward". Read more from Micron's Raj Hazra.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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