German Chancellor Angela Merkel railed against social media giant Twitter for permanently banning outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump from using its platform.
Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account due to concerns that he will incite further violence in the wake of the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
During a press conference on Monday, Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert shared her opinion about the Twitter ban on Trump. He said the German chancellor called the company’s action problematic.
Take note that Merkel has been a critic of Pres. Trump and she was “furious and saddened” by the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. She believes social media companies such as Twitter “bear great responsibility for political communication not being poisoned by hatred, by lies and by incitement to violence.”
It is right to be proactive and “not stand back” when hate speech and misinformation are proliferating. However, she emphasized that Twitter went too far with the permanent ban.
“The fundamental right to freedom of opinion is a fundamental right of elementary importance,” said Seibert.
He added, “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. Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the U.S. president have now been permanently blocked.”
Trump has been using Twitter as a major communication tool throughout his term at the White House. In recent weeks, he’s been using the platform to express his frustrations over the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Before Twitter removed his account, Pres. Trump had more than 70 million followers.
Other European leaders share Merkel’s sentiment regarding the Twitter ban on Trump
The German chancellor’s sentiment was echoed by some European leaders.
Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune said he was “shocked” to see a private firm like Twitter deciding such an important move.
He said this action “should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO.” Beaune added that there needs to be “public regulation of big online platforms.”
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire previously said that the government should be the one responsible for regulations, not “the digital oligarchy.”
The action taken by Twitter was followed by Facebook and Instagram. Facebook founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said Pres. Trump’s most recent posts showed he intended to utilize his remaining time in office to undermine a peaceful and lawful transition of power.
While both Facebook and Instagram took a similar move, Twitter’s action on Pres. Trump’s account was particularly consequential since it was the commander-in-chief’s primary communication tool.
Twitter also permanently suspended the accounts of Michael Flynn, who called for martial law to redo the election, Sidney Powell, the conspiracy-theorist lawyer who previously worked with President Donald Trump’s campaign, and other high-profile supporters of the president.
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