Internet platforms and anti-gun bias


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From Gun Rodeo. August 20th, 2018

The recent past has been striking:

  • 1. Facebook bans all gun sales and gun transactions.
  • 2. YouTube shuts down multiple user channels over their long-running publication of videos which help to sell firearms and accessories including magazines, and even those which imply how how to safely install accessories.
  • 3. Shopify bans most gun-related sales.

These events happened very rapidly and it begs the question: Who will be the next platform to ban gun-related content? Instagram? Google Search? Amazon? Alexa? Email? Don't be fooled: There will be a next platform.

On the surface these seem like isolated events. But they are not. Each platform drew upon the experience of the previous in their decision making. It is striking to read the policies themselves and notice how similar they are in the specific content subject to the ban. Their implementation was also correspondingly similar: all were introduced with no forewarning and little public communication. There have been no public explanations. There has been no mea culpa. None have spoken about the implicit constitutional rights issues.

It is as if these companies now have a playbook.

This is a moment in time. Yet it is also part of a continuum. It is now more important than ever to focus on the actions of these large platforms, what they mean, and what they will do to our future. Their actions clearly state that they are anti-gun. What these actions mean is that the Internet platforms are largely controlled by gun control advocates. And in the future their actions will bring us a world where our rights are diminished and our ability to develop flourishing online communities could be quashed.

At Gun Rodeo, we have some follow-on questions:

Why do we, as gun rights advocates, continue to invest time and energy in platforms which will eventually curtail our constitutional rights? Why do users not seek out gun-friendly platforms? And what will it take to develop these platforms?

The experience of Gun Rodeo is quite telling in this regard. The founders of Gun Rodeo are old hands in technology, with careers that span 20+ years, much of it in Silicon Valley. It has always been a very open and friendly community. Until the Gun Rodeo project opened the conversation to guns. At this point there were no friends to be had in Silicon Valley. No one wants to talk about a gun-related project. No one wants to help contribute to a gun-related project. And no one will offer networking for a gun-related project.

  • 1. Why do we see tech companies alter their Terms of Service AFTER they have hit critical mass? And, if we know their TOS is incomplete, what other potential targets of discrimination could they be hiding?
  • 2. Why do we, as gun rights supporters, continue to join and use tech services, when we now know they will expel us from their platform once they hit some critical mass (a la Shopify, Facebook, Youtube)?
  • 3. Tech companies are ostensibly fearful of negative press from gun control advocates. Yet they are not fearful of the same negative press from gun-rights advocates. Why? As powerful as the gun rights coalition is, why are we insignificant in the face of getting ostracized from tech platforms?
  • 4. We are now living in a time when all the major platforms (except Google's search) have limited the constitutional rights of gun advocates and gun owners (eg. Shopify, Facebook, YouTube). WHEN will we get our own platforms which allow us our full rights?

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