Chancellor Angela Merkel is critical of the blocking of Donald Trump’s Twitter account. While right-wing populists suspect a conspiracy, critical voices are also coming from the EU.
The federal government is critical of the blocking of US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account. The operators of social networks are responsible for ensuring that political communication is not poisoned with hatred and incitement to violence, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday in Berlin. Freedom of expression as a fundamental right of elementary importance can only be restricted by the legislature, not according to the requirements of companies. That is why Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) sees it as problematic that the US President’s accounts have been permanently closed.
“It is right that the state, the legislature, set a framework for this,” said Seibert about the situation in Germany. It is fundamentally problematic to find out what falsifying and violence-promoting statements are spread on social media.
Twitter had permanently blocked Trump’s account @realDonaldTrump and thus deprived him of his most important communication platform. As a reason, Twitter named the “risk of further incitement to violence”. Trump accused Twitter on Friday evening in a message circulated through journalists in the White House of conspiring with the Democrats to silence him and his supporters.
The deputy AfD chairman, Beatrix von Storch, criticized: “Internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon are abusing their dominant position in order to abolish freedom of expression.” It is therefore high time to use competition law against the tech companies and “smash the digital cartel,” said the member of the Bundestag, who herself communicates a lot on Twitter.
France’s Minister of Economic Affairs “shocked”
After Trump’s account was blocked, France’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Bruno Le Maire, also demanded that such decisions no longer be left to private companies. He was “shocked” that Twitter was able to make this decision, Le Maire told France Inter on Monday. From his point of view, the regulation of the Internet industry could “not be carried out by the digital oligarchy itself”.
“The storming is the result of the lies of Mr. Trump,” said Le Maire. He sees the events as “an attack on democracy”. At the same time, however, “the digital oligarchy is also one of the threats to states and democracy”. The regulation of the online networks should not be carried out by the “digital giants” themselves, but is the task of the states and the judiciary.
Support for the statements came from FDP foreign policy expert Alexander Graf Lambsdorff. He shared a Le Maires tweet of the statements, commenting, “That’s right.”
The chairman of the conservative EPP group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber (CSU), called for more supervision over the online networks. “We cannot leave it to the American big-tech companies to decide how we discuss and not discuss,” he told the news website Politico. “We need a stricter regulatory approach.”