As conservatives look to fight back against what they see as an ideologically driven censorship push by Big Tech, one company is looking to make the building blocks of the Internet cancel-proof – giving conservatives more solid footing online.
RightForge is an internet infrastructure company providing server space and web hosting, with what it describes as an ideological commitment to free speech, and it is offering a platform that caters to conservative outlets, campaigns and others who fear they could be canceled by Big Tech.
“We are absolutely ideological,” CEO Martin Avila told Fox News in an interview. “What we saw here was the need to have the internet, because it was created in America, carry with it as part of its principles American values, American ideology – that’s our ideology. We believe that the American framework, the core ideas enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution incubated the internet.”
Conservatives have been sounding the alarm on what they see as a crackdown against them by Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter and Facebook. They point to the shutting down of former President Donald Trump and the Twitter blocking of the Hunter Biden laptop story as two prominent examples.
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A number of alternatives have emerged, particularly in the social media sphere, promising that they will not engage in the selective censorship they allege is taking place from the Silicon Valley companies. However, for those companies to exist, they require server space on which to host their sites – the biggest of which are hosted by Big Tech companies.
Avila said he saw the need for a web hosting alternative in January when Amazon Web Services shut down the servers of Parler – a conservative social media alternative to Twitter – over alleged breaches of its terms of service on hate speech. That came days after Apple had blocked its app from its App Store.
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“That was the actual physical real estate that’s very hard to replicate and very hard to understand what it is,” Avila said. “The physical real estate of the servers, the access to power and processing and storage was being taken away, the ability to create the internet and exist on the internet was being taken away by a company.”
“So you could be rendered unable to exist online and they did that, so what we saw as the opportunity was to solve for that,” he said.
Jon Schweppe, director of policy at American Principles Project (APP), whose sister company and conservative outlet The National Pulse is hosted by RightForge, told Fox News that the Parler ban was a warning to other conservative companies.
“Parler did a great job, built a social media platform that had I believe 15 million users and they were starting to hit an inflection point where you would have started to see more people go there and they really could have been a competitor, but what happened?” he said.
“The infrastructure, Amazon Web Services and the app stores, that was what crushed them, and so I think conservatives who are seeking to build that baseline foundation of the internet like what RightForge is doing, are playing a really critical role and they’ll actually allow for something like Parler to have a better shot at success later on.”
Avila stressed that RightForge is a company that has serious power behind it in terms of what it can offer to customers. He said it is now deployed in 30 data centers across the world, including Johannesburg, Singapore and Sydney. So far its clients include conservative campaigns, news outlets and former government officials starting Political Action Committees.
“Our goal is to be in 10 milliseconds of anyone anywhere, so if you’re hitting us, if you’re pulling up a site in Egypt, we’re able to deploy faster because we have servers in Europe,” he said. “Because in order to stand up as an alternative site, you need the real estate we provide, you need the processing power, you need the storage.”
Even for those who may not be the most tech-savvy or familiar with concepts like hosting and servers, questions about who owns server space and what rules are tied to them affect everyone – Avila says that it’s important, therefore, that companies have choices.
“It’s so important because the internet is everything – it’s in our doorbells, it’s what we see everyday, it sees and filters and controls the information going into our brains at all times,” he said.
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RightForge’s approach comes as conservatives are grappling with how to tackle the challenge of Big Tech. In Congress, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced legislation that would break up companies looking to dominate multiple industries. Trump, meanwhile, has sued tech companies for kicking him off their platforms.
As conservatives look to wage wars through both government and legal entities as well as competition, Schweppe warned that efforts to crack down on conservative campaigns and outlets will only increase.
“I think anyone who follows this space understands that the censorship is only going to increase from here from the main companies,” he said. “They’re not going to slow down.”