A North Idaho internet provider has blocked access to Facebook and Twitter for some customers after customers requested the block, citing the social media platforms’ recent ban on President Donald Trump and other conservatives. YourT1Wifi announced the block in an email to customers, urging customers who want to access Facebook and Twitter to reach out so the company would put them on its “allowed list.” In separate comments to a local news outlet, the company’s president suggested that only users who requested the block would be unable to access Facebook and Twitter.
“It has Come to our Attention that Twitter and Facebook are engaged in Censorship of our Customers and Information,” YourT1Wifi said in an email to customers. The company said its customers had called in, “voicing the concern that they do not want these sites allowed to be displayed on their internet feed… and that they do not want their children to go to these sites.”
The company insisted that “too many” customers have requested the block for the company to restrict access “one at a time.” Therefore “we will be blocking these 2 and any other website that may also be Censoring whether it be through their algorithm they use for their site or any other means.”
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According to the email, any customer who wishes to access Facebook and Twitter need only reach out to the company for an exemption. “If your family would still like to be able to connect to Facebook or Twitter please let us know and we can add you to the allowed list to be able to not be blocked from going to these sites and the ones that do want to be blocked will have to do nothing they will just not show up.”
YourT1WiFi announced the block will go into effect on January 13.
Brett Fink, the company’s owner, told CBS affiliate KREM-2 that the internet provider would only block Facebook and Twitter for customers who asked.
“We’ve had customers asked to be blocked [from] it. That is what the email was about, so no we are not blocking anybody, only the ones that have asked for it,” Fink insisted.
In the email, YourT1WiFi took a stand against Big Tech censorship.
“Our Company Does not believe a website or Social Networking site has the Authority to Censor what you see and post and hide information from you, stop you seeing what your friends and family are posting,” YourT1Wifi said in an email to customers. “We take not [sic] stand weather [sic] Democrat or Republican or any other Political affiliate [sic] just a moral high ground of fair and decent communication” (emphasis and typos original).
Big Tech companies have clamped down on various conservatives after pro-Trump protesters breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to prevent Vice President Mike Pence and Congress from counting the Electoral College votes to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Many have accused President Donald Trump of inciting violence in the situation, even though Trump told protesters to go home. While the president did engage in dangerous rhetoric by insisting he won the election by a “landslide” and by urging Pence to unilaterally reject some electoral votes, he did not explicitly call for violence or an attack on the Capitol.
Even so, after the riots, Twitter suspended Trump’s account for the first time and Facebook permanently banned the president. After Trump deleted the tweets Twitter had flagged and had his account restored, Twitter proceeded to ban him entirely on Friday, and then it banned the official President of the United States (POTUS) account.
Facebook throttled conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh, notifying him that his “Page has reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeated sharing of false news.” Limbaugh left Twitter in protest after the platform banned Trump. Facebook also locked former Congressman Ron Paul out of his Facebook page without identifying any post where Paul allegedly violated Facebook’s community standards.
Apple and Google removed conservative social media alternative Parler from their app stores, claiming the site had failed to take down posts inciting violence. On Saturday, Amazon announced it would follow suit after employees pressured the company to remove Parler. Parler went offline on Monday and announced it could not secure hosting from companies other than Amazon. Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Monday, claiming that Twitter had also failed to take down posts inciting violence — and indeed had far more of them on its platform.
YourT1WiFi condemned the attacks on Parler.
“We also Don’t condone what Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Apple are doing either to Parler by trying to strong arm them into submission,” the company said in the email. “Actually looks like they are trying to exterminate the competition is what it looks like.”
YourT1WiFi’s response to the Big Tech crackdown may be unique, but conservatives are likely to fight back in a myriad of ways. Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google, and Amazon have crossed a Rubicon in the suppression of conservative voices.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.