Web Hosts, Services Connecting Websites To The Internet, Gain More Power


About the choices that social media platforms make what kinds of speech do Facebook or Twitter block. But a less visible part of the Web may be more powerful. It decides whether an online platforms survives or goes dark. NPR's Bobby Allen reports on one front in the fight over online speech. If you want to run a site on the Internet, you need a Web host the service that actually connects a website to the Internet. There's guts of the Web that no one ever wants to see or deal with or think about. Well. Greg Falco, a Stanford security researcher, says it might be time to start thinking about it. Web hosting companies have the levers to vast online infrastructure. And complete discretion to pull those levers as they see fit. That means they can decide which websites live or die. The question becomes tricky of like when you actually take someone down. It's a really great territory. The reality is comes down to understanding when it reaches from public attention when there's actually physical implications, for instance, a group of people who go to a website to plan to overthrow government and then use the site to document the attempt by posting photos and videos of the violence. That's the scenario that faced Amazon Web services, one of the biggest players in the Web hosting world. One of its clients was the social media site parlor, which was filled with post by pro Trump extremists before and during the storming of the U. S. Capitol. Amazon stopped hosting parlor and the site went dark. Too many. This revealed the power of Web hosting, says former Netflix executive Dave Temkin. He's an expert in the infrastructure of the Internet. It's absolutely invisible. It just kind of works, and no one knows what it is until it breaks in justifying cutting parlor off, Amazon said it had warned parlor of 98 examples of posts that quote Clearly encouraged and incite violence that went against Amazons. Terms of service. If parlor didn't clean up its act, Amazon would hit the kill switch. And that's what happened to Harvard's Evelyn duet who studies online speech. It was a big moment, It raised questions about the power of Web hosts. Is that the right place for content moderation to be occurring because it's harder to bring accountability to those choices when we don't even know who's making them or how they're being made. In other words, when a Web host Has a problem with content. Usually, these discussions are hashed out between two companies out of the public light and Web hosts. Unlike Social media platforms aren't used to having to explain these decisions. Another issue. Do X says is who polices the Web host. She pointed to the 98 pieces of objectionable content. Amazon sighted about parlor that it sort of made me love a little bit because, like has Amazon, read the rest of the Internet like 98 pieces of content or whatever it was, is not that many, I mean, has Amazon Red Amazon, the old idea of the Internet as a marketplace of ideas where the best will rise to the top no longer applies. That's being fiercely reconsidered by both Social media and the companies that do Web hosting Temkin, the former Netflix executive agrees. But he also noted that Web hosts even those as big as Amazon can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of sites they serve. You know, if your AWS and got hundreds of thousands of customers, you can't actively police what each of those customers are doing with your service, But if you're the one band from Amazon, why not just find another Web host? Well, parlor has tried and it's not that easy. See, the last six Web host parlor has approached have all said no thanks. Parlor. Now on, Lee has a shell of a site where no one can post

Coming up next