Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told The New York Times that he wasn’t comfortable with the idea that former President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter back in January, at a time when Trump was still the leader of the United States.
“Look, you have a former president in Trump, who was a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad-news guy,” Sanders told Times writer Ezra Klein. “But if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.”
“Now, I don’t know what the answer is,” remarked Sanders. “Do you want hate speech and conspiracy theories traveling all over this country? No. Do you want the internet to be used for authoritarian purposes and an insurrection, if you like? No, you don’t. So how [d0] you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about. Because yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow, it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.”
“I don’t like giving that much power to a handful of high-tech people. But the devil is obviously in the details, and it’s something we’re going to have to think long and hard on, and that is, how you preserve First Amendment rights, without moving this country into a big lie mentality and conspiracy theories,” the Vermont senator added.
Sanders is just one of a number of politicians who have expressed concerns about the power of technology companies and that associated ramifications for freedom of speech. Twitter, where Trump was a prolific user, said in January that the president’s account had been permanently suspended due to the risk of incitement of violence.
Trump, suspended from other social media websites as well, has been issuing long-form press releases and providing endorsements of Republican candidates across the country without the use of the medium. But the former president has also recently communicated in a more traditional way, through an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo in which he called the COVID-19 vaccine safe and recommended that others get it.
Jason Miller, an adviser to Trump, told Fox News on Sunday that the former president will likely return to social media in the coming months, but on his own platform, which he hopes will attract tens of millions of users.
“I do think that we’re going to see President Trump returning to social media in probably about two or three months here with his own platform,” Miller told Fox News. “And this is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media. It’s going to completely redefine the game and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what exactly President Trump does. But it will be his own platform.”
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