We write this letter in response to recent news coverage of ScyllaDB terminating its support for social media platform Parler. We respect the confidentiality of our customers but since some of the details of our relationship with Parler have become public knowledge, we thought it best to share our perspective here as a transparent company with an open source culture.
At ScyllaDB we do not discriminate against customers. We take pride in supporting a great diversity of users around the world. Our international staff spans twenty countries and holds opinions across the political spectrum, but we ourselves are a non-partisan organization.
However, the January 6th siege of the U.S. Capitol brought into stark relief the danger that can emerge when repeated threats of violence are not decisively addressed. We became aware of some of the activities taking place on Parler from news coverage and statements released by other companies including Apple, AWS and Google. Questions about our support of Parler began to come from our staff and from outside our company.
In light of the assault on the Capitol, we were concerned that our technology could be used to support further destructive behavior. We determined that Parler had violated our license agreement (see Use Restrictions, Article 1.2) and decided to terminate the contract.
Tech startups like ScyllaDB don’t expect to become embroiled in matters of national debate. We spend our days and nights focused on low-level technology: database, disks, CPUs, etc. We think about making the best product we can and growing our business. We don’t normally weigh in on our customers’ affairs or debates about free speech.
We knew that whatever choice we made would be controversial. And start-ups like ours are loath to turn away business during a critical stage in our growth. However, because we saw a direct link between the calls for violence on Parler and the mob attack on the Capitol, we opted to take an extreme measure and end a commercial relationship with a customer. Our goal in doing this was not to restrict freedom of speech but to do our part to prevent further acts of violence. It was an extraordinary step we hope never to have to repeat.
ScyllaDB offered migration support to Parler. We will keep the door open to work with the Parler team if they take steps to create a safer community.
The events of the past weeks have shown us that even an infrastructure technology company like ScyllaDB needs to make its values explicit and draw clear lines against using our products in ways that undermine democracy or are otherwise likely to cause harm.
As always, we are open to your feedback and suggestions. We ask only that discussions on this topic and others remain respectful, toward the goal working more closely and productively with our user community.
The ScyllaDB Team