While several high-ranking European leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, vigorously condemned last week’s violence in Washington, DC, they have objected to the ban on the president by social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, pointing out that that this violates his right to freedom of expression and this argues governments, not private companies, should be responsible for regulating big tech.
Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the Twitter ban on President Donald Trump and stressed … [+]
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Merkel said through a spokesman on Monday that Trump’s Twitter ban was “very problematic” and that the “fundamental right to freedom of expression” should be determined by the rule of law and the government, “not according to the decision of social management media platforms.”
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market and a key figure in Europe’s efforts to regulate Big Tech, wrote in Politico: “The fact that a CEO can unplug the POTUS speaker without any control is confusing.”
Breton said it confirms “the power of these platforms” and highlighted the shortcomings of Washington and other governments in regulating digital space that are currently “reminiscent of the Wild West.”
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he was “shocked” by Twitter’s decision to ban Trump, adding that “digital regulation should not be done by the digital oligarchy … (and) a matter for that sovereign people, governments and the judiciary. “
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said tech companies are now “making editorial decisions” and that it is very clear that platforms “decide who should and who shouldn’t have a voice on their platform”.
Europe has taken a very different stance on regulating big tech than the US, where companies often have to self-regulate and usually enjoy significant levels of immunity, despite safeguards like Section 230 in place. This recent criticism of major social media platforms could be interpreted as a warning shot to Breton, who is pushing some of the major technology reforms in the bloc, it was clear that Europe also needs to do a better job of regulating digital space.
What to look for
Speaking to Politico, Breton said: “The EU and the new US administration should join forces … to start a constructive dialogue leading to globally coherent principles … (and) a new global approach to online platforms . ” One could look to a partnership between the EU and the US when President-elect Biden tries to contain big tech.
After reviewing Trump’s recent tweets, Twitter said the president, who was one of the most-visited people on the platform at the time, was at risk of further inciting violence.
Angela Merkel attacks Twitter because of Trump Ban (FT)
Thierry Breton: Capitol Hill – Social Media’s 9/11 Moment (Politico)
Twitter stocks drop 7% in pre-market trading after Trump was permanently banned from platform (Forbes)
Twitter permanently bans Trump (Forbes)