Tuesday, January 19

Germany’s Merkel: Trump’s Twitter Eviction ‘Problematic’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel considers U.S. President Donald Trump’s eviction from Twitter by the company “problematic,” her spokesman said Monday.

Twitter permanently suspended Trump from the microblogging platform on Friday, citing a “risk of further incitement of violence” in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the outgoing president.

Asked about Twitter’s decision, Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert said the operators of social media platforms “bear great responsibility for political communication not being poisoned by hatred, by lies and by incitement to violence.”

“The fundamental right to freedom of opinion is a fundamental right of elementary importance, and this fundamental right can be interfered with, but through the law and within the framework defined by the legislature, not according to the decision of the management of social media platforms.

“From this point of view, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the US president have been permanently blocked.”

He said it’s right not to “stand back” when such content is posted, for example by flagging it.

“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,” he told reporters in Berlin. “Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the U.S. president have now been permanently blocked.”

Facebook on Thursday suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20, the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, and possibly indefinitely.

Merkel herself does not have a Twitter account, although Seibert does and many German government ministers do.

Others who have questioned the decision by big tech giants, Twitter and Facebook to suspend President Trump’s accounts are President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson and virulent Putin critic, Alexey Navalny.

“I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the the right to post a message on Twitter or Face(book). I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that.”

“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.”

Silencing a significant number of voters and erasing history is no way to unite us; it only further divides. Big tech & social media platforms want to act like media orgs but don’t want to be held accountable with the rest of media. Speech should be free whether you agree or not.

You want to ban @realDonaldTrump, fine you’re a private company, but @Twitter deleting the President’s account which highlights this admin & its history is wrong. @Facebook & @instagram banning all images from the Capitol riot is a dangerous precedent to set. We aren’t in China.

Secretary Ben Carson

1. I think that the ban of Donald Trump on Twitter is an unacceptable act of censorship

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and personal political preferences.

5. 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 (not that I ask for it).

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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’.

11. 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.

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