First, they came for Alex Jones, now they’re coming for gun dealers. In the wake of Big Tech’s deplatforming of Alex Jones and InfoWars, Canadian online-store provider Shopify has banned many gun retailers form its platform.
From CBS News:
Canadian online-store provider Shopify is prohibiting the sale of many types of guns and ammunition, saying that “solely deferring to the law” no longer works amid political gridlock and the internet’s rapid pace.
In an update of its rules earlier this week, the Ottawa-based e-commerce giant, which services more than 600,000 small businesses, banned merchants from using its technology to sell weapons including semi-automatic firearms, silencers, grenades, rocket launchers and 3D-printed guns.
“From time to time, Shopify reviews and amends the terms, conditions and policies governing the use of our platform. We have recently amended our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to restrict the sale of certain firearms and parts on our platform,” the company stated in an email. “As we continue to scale globally, we may further refine our policies as needed.”
The company told the Associated Press that the change affected “a small number of merchants,” but would not give a specific number.
Shopify is not the first tech giant to take action against gun dealers. In May, YouTube banned many gun videos from its platform. Facebook and Google have always had restrictions on gun sales on both platforms. This isn’t much of a surprise since Big Tech are willing foot soldiers in the left’s war on guns.
The Washington Free Beacon has done some fine investigating work on this topic and they have uncovered a change of heart from Shopify’s CEO on the issue.
The CEO of major online retailing platform Shopify deleted a post detailing the company’s commitment to free speech this week as the company began purging gun-related retailers.
Tobias Lutke, founder and CEO of Shopify, deleted a 2017 post titled “In Support of Free Speech” and republished it with an addendum in a new post, “In Support of Free Speech (Updated).” In the new post, Lutke declared the company’s previous commitment to allowing retailers to use the platform so long as they did not violate any laws because of the brand’s dedication to the principle of free speech “too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast moving internet.” Instead, he said Shopify would no longer remain neutral on products legally sold through its platform and instead “will have to make decisions based on judgement.” The company did not elaborate on how it will make those judgements or respond to questions on their decision-making process or which of their more than 600,000 storefronts may be at risk of having their businesses shuttered.
“Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast moving internet,” wrote Lutke. “The legislative process is no match for the realities of the internet and has ground to a halt on contentious issues. Some of those issues, such as hateful content, remain legally undefined. Others are legally addressed for a physical world, but pose different and more complicated risks on the internet. So we have found ourselves in a position of having to make our own decisions on some of these issues. And along the way we had to accept that neutrality is not a possibility.”
Lutke said that while Shopify is going back on its commitment to free speech, he still “stand(s) by the philosophy” of the original standard but did not expand on what that meant in practice.
Basically, Shopify and the rest of Big Tech are of the opinion that if governments don’t legislate restrictions on speech and commerce, they will. They will ban you from their platforms if you don’t conform to their vision of utopia.
But this isn’t really a left-right issue. Just today, we saw Facebook kick Occupy London off their platform.
Occupy London, which claims 151,000 followers, appears to have been taken down by Facebook. A spokesperson for the group confirms it. Awaiting comment from the company. pic.twitter.com/oBCNILxfrC
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) August 16, 2018
It goes without saying that I probably oppose 90% of what Occupy London stands for, but I will defend their right to say it without censorship. Shame on Facebook.
Despite their libertarian image, Big Tech are hardcore neoliberal globalists. Silicon Valley’s ideal president is Mike Bloomberg for heaven sakes. Big Tech wants to create an acceptable political spectrum that not only includes Bloomberg but has Elizabeth Warren on the left and Hillary Clinton on the right. Anyone who does not fit that ideal world has be to silenced and bankrupted. If you’re too far right (or left for that matter), you won’t be allowed to use their platforms.
Is the answer treating Big Tech as a public utility, breaking them up, or creating an Internet Bill of Rights? Nope. If you treat them as public utilities or create an Internet Bill of Rights, you’ll have people like this guy deciding who can and can’t get access.
Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 6, 2018
Breaking up Big Tech also strikes me as counterproductive. Instead of a few big companies that hate our guts, we’ll have 20 or so pretty large companies that still hate our guts. We need to find ways around Big Tech.
Part of the solution is the advances in decentralization and open source which have come about thanks to the blockchain. There are places like OpenBazaar which have no restrictions on what can be sold in their markets, with the downside that they only take cryptocurrencies. The firearms industry is also very good at keeping track of what platforms are pro-gun and can even find ways to circumvent YouTube.
As for the rest of us, we can take advantage of decentralized social media networks. Networks built on the blockchain show great potential as issues such as privacy and censorship continue to take center stage.
Big Tech is at war with us, but we can fight back.