Last week, after the appalling violence at the US Capitol building, Twitter announced that they would be suspending President Donald Trump’s account “for repeated and severe violations of [Twitter’s] Civic Integrity policy.” Then, citing the supposed “risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter announced that they had “permanently suspended” Trump’s account.
Subsequently, the Big Tech giants also rallied to shut down Parler, a popular alternative outlet among conservatives.
While many celebrated Trump’s suspension, there were others — even some on the Left — who criticized Twitter’s decision and the impact it would have on free speech in America.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Only a few days after Twitter’s announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — who are often vocal critics of conservatives and conservative principles — released a statement raising concern over the “unchecked power” of Big Tech, and the impact it could have on minority voices.
“For months, President Trump has been using social media platforms to seed doubt about the results of the election and to undermine the will of voters. We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions – especially when political realities make those decisions easier. President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others – like the many Black, Brown, and LGBTQ activists who have been censored by social media companies – will not have that luxury. It is our hope that these companies will apply their rules transparently to everyone,” the ACLU wrote.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, through her spokesman Steffen Seibert, criticized Twitter’s actions as “problematic.” According to the Associated Press, Seibert said that the freedom of opinion is a fundamental right of “elementary significance.”
“This fundamental right can be intervened in, but according to the law and within the framework defined by legislators — not according to a decision by the management of social media platforms,” Seibert told reporters. “Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the U.S. president have now been permanently blocked.”
Model, actress and Leftist activist Emily Ratajkowski — admittedly while “floating a conspiracy theory that Trump supporters were allowed to breach the United States Capitol” — expressed concern that censorship could later be applied to “any of us.”
This gives Facebook/tech/Zuck THE MOST POWER. If he can shut the president up/off he can shut any of us up/off
— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) January 7, 2021
My concern is that this gives big tech the opportunity to shut down “leftist extremists” who are important political organizers.
— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) January 7, 2021
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny condemned Twitter’s suspension of President Donald Trump as “an unacceptable act of censorship.” In a lengthy Twitter thread, Navalny described Twitter’s ban as “a decision of people we don’t know in accordance with a procedure we don’t know,” which was “based on emotions and personal political preferences.”
He also questioned the claim that Trump was “banned for violating Twitter rules,” saying that he receives “death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone (not that I ask for it).”
1. I think that the ban of Donald Trump on Twitter is an unacceptable act of censorship (THREAD)
— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) January 9, 2021
Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Mexican President and Leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador also condemned Big Tech for their decision to censor President Donald 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,’” he continued. “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.”
Writing on Twitter, Presidential spokesman Jesús Ramírez elaborated further on the position.
“Facebook’s decision to silence the current leader of the United States calls for a debate on freedom of expression, the free exchange of information on the web, democracy and the role of the companies that administer (social) networks.”
Poland’s Prime Minister spoke generally on the issue of censorship in response to recent events, saying that “Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not,” and that “There is no and can be no consent to censorship.”
According to the Washington Post, Morawiecki also said Tuesday that social media corporations should not censor views that they don’t share and called for new regulations that would govern the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the European Union.
In Poland, “the functioning of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are regulated by law,” and Morawiecki said that “The owners of social platforms cannot act above the law. We will suggest that similar regulations are also put in place in all of the European Union.”
Acting Prime Minister of Australia, Michael McCormack, “blasted [Twitter’s] move as censorship of political speech when the company had not suspended other views on its site.”
“I don’t believe in that sort of censorship. But, you know, I mean, there’s been a lot of people who’ve said and done a lot of things on Twitter previously that haven’t received that sort of condemnation or, indeed, censorship,” said McCormack. “That’s a matter for Twitter. They’ve made that call. They’ve got a company, they’ve got a business to run and they’ve made that decision.”
Singer, songwriter, and actress Keri Hilson described Twitter’s actions as “dangerous.”
“This may be funny. But it is a little dangerous too,” Hilson posted in an Instagram story. “Take Trump out of it for a moment…A democracy must include freedom of speech. Imagine other leaders or popular figures not being able to voice their opinion if it opposes majority of world leaders…Our freedom of speech being taken from us.”
“Slowly but surely (censorship),” she warned. “If the leader of the ‘free world’ can be removed. Imagine that same right of civilians. Imagine believing every time you read ‘false information detected’ and propaganda, deceptive reports, and flat out lies being the only thing we see.”
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has criticized Leftist policies on several occasions. In response to the wave of censorship triggered by Big Tech, Musk condemned the “West Coast high tech” for becoming the “de facto arbiter of free speech.”
A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 11, 2021
This is not the first time Musk has weighed in on the subject of censorship. In June, he criticized Amazon for “reportedly censoring the publication of a book about the coronavirus.”
Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 4, 2020
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
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