Bill Ottman, CEO of the open-source, free speech social network Minds has revealed that several key features will no longer be available in the Google Play store version of the Minds app after Google sent a 24-hour warning.
Ottman wrote that the Minds team had removed search, discovery, and comments from the response app which was accepted into the Google Play store. This functionality has also been removed from the Minds iOS app.
“We aren’t happy and will be working towards something better,” Ottman added.
The company is now planning major overhauls of various features in its app this quarter including its mobile messenger, its mobile wallet, and its token rewards. Minds plans to replace the current mobile messenger with a new version that offers group chats, file sharing, end-to-end encryption, federation, and more.
“We will be releasing a full report on our plan for fully censorship-resistant infrastructure,” Ottman wrote.
Ottman suggested that Minds was targeted by Google over “controversial speech” and that apps where most of the user-generated posts are encrypted and there is little public content are allowed to remain on the app stores.
While the Minds team aren’t happy with the current solution, Ottman noted the importance of alternative apps maintaining access to Apple and Google’s app stores which are responsible for almost all app installs on user devices:
“It is key to maintain access to the stores because hundreds of thousands of current users are currently installed there. We recommend everyone download from us. If you are on Apple, leave if you’re smart.”
Android users can download the full version of the mobile app directly from Minds here.
Although Minds has made these changes in an attempt to stay in the Google Play store, Ottman noted that the platform has “multiple escape pods ready to go” if Amazon attempts to deplatform the app from its web hosting services.
Google’s threat to deplatform Minds is yet another reminder of how a small number of trillion-dollar tech giants control most of the major alt-tech distribution channels and can leverage their control over these channels to squeeze out alternatives and competitors.
Not only did this result in millions of existing Parler users who had downloaded the app through these stores being prevented from receiving updates but it also cut Parler off from its chart topping position in both app stores. Topping the app store charts usually garners hundreds of thousands of monthly downloads.
And this wasn’t the end of Parler’s deplatforming at the hands of tech giants. Hours after Apple banned its app, Parler’s web hosting service provider, Amazon, gave the app 24 hours notice before terminating its web hosting contract and taking Parler offline.
While these recent actions against alt-tech platforms such as Minds and Parler have been at the app store and web hosting level, they represent just a fraction of the mass power Big Tech can leverage to crush alt-tech.
A handful of Big Tech companies control the most popular operating systems, search engines, social networks, and in-app payment gateways and can exclude alternatives at each of these layers whenever they choose to.