Thursday January 14, 2021
Dispute over Trump ban
Twitter boss rejects criticism of the lock
First Twitter, then Facebook, Instagram and Youtube: One social network after the other slams the door in front of the elected US President Donald Trump. There is not only applause for this. Twitter boss Jack Dorsey publicly addresses his critics. Meanwhile, Trump flashes the next platform.
Twitter boss Jack Dorsey has defended the permanent ban of US President Donald Trump from the social network. “I believe this was the right decision for Twitter,” wrote Dorsey on a longer Twitter thread. The San Francisco-based company removed Trump’s account last week because it saw the threat of further violence from supporters of the president who had previously stormed the Capitol. “We found ourselves in an extraordinary and untenable situation that forced us to focus all of our actions on public safety,” said Dorsey. “Offline harm from online speech is proven to be real and that is what drives our policies and their enforcement above all else.” Banning Trump, “I’m not celebrating or I’m proud of it,” stressed the Twitter CEO. The decision was made “after a clear warning that we would take this measure”.
The ban has been criticized by some Republicans. They see the president’s right to freedom of expression curtailed. Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned through her spokesman that lawmakers and not private companies should decide on possible restrictions on freedom of expression. The well-known Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny described Trump’s ban on Twitter as an “unacceptable act of censorship”.
The company had permanently blocked Trump’s private account last Friday – two days after his supporters attacked the Capitol. Angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, the seat of the US parliament, on Wednesday last week. Five people – including a police officer – died in connection with the riots. Trump had previously urged thousands of his supporters via his social media channels to march to the Capitol, where the election of his rival Joe Biden was about to be officially confirmed.
With Snapchat, another social network is now following suit and permanently banning the outgoing US president. His account with the messenger service will be discontinued, as a spokeswoman for the operator Snap announced. This decision was made “in the interests of public safety and on the basis of its attempts to spread misinformation, hate speech and incitement to violence”. Snap had initially blocked Trump’s account after his supporters violently attacked the Capitol.
After the attack by Trump supporters on the US Capitol, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg also had the outgoing US president’s accounts blocked temporarily and finally permanently on the social network and on the associated photo platform Instagram. The video network YouTube, which belongs to Google, has not yet finally banned Trump’s channel. In view of “concerns about the continuing potential for violence”, only new content has been removed from Trump’s channel, the world’s largest video platform announced yesterday. In addition, no more videos should be uploaded for at least seven days and the comment function is disabled, but older videos will remain available. According to Alphabet boss Sundar Pichai, Youtube has removed hundreds of videos with political content from the video platform in the US since the election result was confirmed and the US Capitol was rushed.
Chancellor Merkel sees fundamental rights in danger
The decision to ban Trump from the social networks, which more and more social networks have joined, is applauded by his opponents, but also met with criticism: Chancellor Angela Merkel considers it problematic that the operators of social networks unauthorized the blocking of the US President’s channels. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday that this would interfere with the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which could only be restricted by the legislature, not according to the requirements of companies.
Meanwhile, Trump fans encounter obstacles in their search for alternatives: The Parler network, which is popular with the right-wing, gained a lot of popularity, especially after the Twitter ban – until first Google and then Apple blocked the app in their stores and finally Amazon blocked the blog app from threw his servers. The platform defends itself against the shutdown and takes legal action against the blocking of Amazon.
Both the outgoing US president and his supporters remain homeless for the time being in the social networks. Trump had particularly used his Twitter account @realDonaldTrump with 89 million followers in the past few years as a direct platform for communication and exchange with his followers. The official account of the US President @POTUS can still be found on Twitter, but no new tweets. On January 20, he leaves office.