It is ironic that an opinion piece in The Washington Post this week argued in favor of regulating companies that dominate our communication infrastructure.
The author, Zephyr Teachout, defended Twitter’s decision to ban President Donald J. Trump from its platform but expressed concern about the threat of “extreme concentration” of corporate power in communications.
Now here’s where irony comes in:
Teachout didn’t mention (understandably) that the owner of the newspaper that hosted her column is Jeff Bezos, who also owns Amazon and its subsidiary, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the leading cloud hosting provider in the country. Bezos is undeniably a dominant force – perhaps the dominant force – in communications and communications’ infrastructure in the United States.
AWS calls itself “the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform… ” It hosts Twitter, Facebook and Linked in, as well as Neflix, ESPN, BBC, Dow Jones, Reddit, Hearst Corp., Turner Broadcasting, top U.S. agencies, (i.e. Department of State and the Food and Drug Administration) and many others.
After Twitter knocked the President off the internet, conservatives flocked by the tens of thousands to Parler, which offers similar services with an emphasis on free speech. Twitter’s stock plunged by seven percent and the Parler app skyrocketed to the top of app store charts.
AWS abruptly “suspended” its provision of cloud hosting services to Parler on Jan. 9, claiming Parler was used to coordinate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building. Parler states in an antitrust lawsuit filed against AWS on Wednesday that no one who has been publicly identified in the Jan. 6 incident even has a Parler account. And yet, Parler has gone completely dark.