It will be an unwelcome development in the culture wars if companies only sell software to businesses or government agencies seen as politically aligned.
Joanna Andreasson. Source image: Gueholl/iStockSilicon Valley's efforts to pull the plug on dissenting opinions began with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, who have proven to be innovators in devising excuses to suspend ideologically disfavored accounts. Until now, the deleted or suspended accounts have mostly been unpaid users of social media—libertarian law professor Glenn Reynolds, actor James Woods, radio talk show host Jesse Kelly, Infowars provocateur Alex Jones. But paying customers may be the next targets for social media "deplatforming."
At a company-wide meeting in November, Amazon executives tried to fend off a revolt by employees upset about the company's decision to sell its facial recognition technology to U.S. police agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some Amazon workers also objected to Palantir, an analytics firm that relies on government contracts, being allowed to purchase Amazon cloud services.
This effort to deplatform paying customers has spread throughout the tech industry: Some 100 Microsoft employees signed an open letter complaining that, by providing email and calendar services, their company was "complicit" in ICE's border enforcement policies. Salesforce and Google employees have staged similar protests, writes Declan McCullagh.