Some politicians in France were reportedly stunned by the recent decision from tech companies to censor President Donald Trump following last week’s rally in Washington, D.C., that later turned into a riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Bloomberg News reported:
Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune said he was “shocked” to see a private company make such an important decision. “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,” he told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire earlier said that the state should be responsible for regulations, rather than “the digital oligarchy,” and called big tech “one of the threats” to democracy.
The news comes at the same time that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is not exactly close with Trump, slammed tech companies for censoring him.
“The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance,” Merkel’s spokesman said. “Given that, the chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also condemned social media companies for censoring Trump.
“I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the right to post a message on Twitter or Face(book). I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that,” López Obrador said. “How can you censor someone: ‘Let’s see, I, as the judge of the Holy Inquisition, will punish you because I think what you’re saying is harmful.’ Where is the law, where is the regulation, what are the norms? This is an issue of government, this is not an issue for private companies.”
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, also slammed the censoring of Trump.
“I think that the ban of Donald Trump on Twitter is an unacceptable act of censorship,” Navalny said. “Of course, during his time in the office, Trump has been writing and saying very irresponsible things and paid for it by not getting re-elected for a second term.”
“The election is a straightforward and competitive process. You can participate in it, you can appeal against the results, they’re being monitored by millions of people. The ban on Twitter is a decision of people we don’t know in accordance with a procedure we don’t know,” Navalny continued. “In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and personal political preferences. Don’t tell me he was banned for violating Twitter rules. I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone.”
“Among the people who have Twitter accounts are cold-blooded murderers (Putin or Maduro) and liars and thieves (Medvedev). For many years, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been used as a base for Putin’s ‘troll factory’ and similar groups from other authoritarian countries,” Navalny continued. “Those who denied COVID-19 exist freely and communicate on Twitter. Their words have cost thousands of lives. And yet, it was Trump who got banned publicly and ostentatiously. Such selectivity indicates that this was an act of censorship.”
“Of course, Twitter is a private company, but we have seen many examples in Russian and China of such private companies becoming the state’s best friends and the enablers when it comes to censorship,” Navalny continued. “If you replace ‘Trump’ with ‘Navalny’ in today’s discussion, you will get an 80% accurate Kremlin’s answer as to why my name can’t be mentioned on Russian TV and I shouldn’t be allowed to participate in any elections.”
“This precedent will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world. In Russia as well. Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: ‘this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter,’” Navalny concluded. “If @twitter and @jack want to do things right, they need to create some sort of a committee that can make such decisions. We need to know the names of the members of this committee, understand how it works, how its members vote and how we can appeal against their decisions.”