ACLU and Officials in Germany and France Oppose Banning Trump From Social Media

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President Trump has found a few unlikely defenders regarding his expulsion from virtually every popular social media platform this week, including the American Civil Liberties Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

Social media platforms, predominantly Twitter and Facebook, were under pressure to ban the president from their platforms after he was accused of inciting the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.

Twitter had suspended Trump previously, but by Friday night the platform had permanently banned Trump, while Facebook and Instagram suspended him indefinitely and Snapchat disabled his account. Both Shopify and Twitch both suspended and banned any accounts even related to the president, while PayPal, Discord, Tiktok, YouTube, Pinterest, Google, and Apple have taken assorted actions against President Trump, his supporters, and content about him.

While President Trump has found no shortage of Conservatives to defend his right to free speech—with or without agreeing with what he says—a handful of decidedly left-bent voices have expressed their concern over the deplatforming of a duly elected official.

According to The Blaze, the ACLU was far from supporting President Trump, yet the organization warned of the slippery slope society will be on if social media platforms are allowed to wield such “unchecked power.”

ACLU senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said in a statement:

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.

According to Fortune, Chancellor Merkel stated on Monday that she was wary of corporations controlling free speech.

“The chancellor sees the complete closing down of the account of an elected president as problematic,” said Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert, adding that the freedom of speech “can be interfered with, but by law and within the framework defined by the legislature — not according to a corporate decision.”

Merkel’s solution, however, isn’t much better, with Seibert going on to say that speech should be restricted by the government, not “the management of social media platforms.”

Financial Times reports:

But Ms Merkel said through her spokesman that the US government should follow Germany’s lead in adopting laws that restrict online incitement, rather than leaving it up to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to make up their own rules.

The intervention highlights a key area of disagreement between the US and Europe on how to regulate social media platforms. The EU wants to give regulators more powers to force Internet platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to remove illegal content.

In the US, technology companies have traditionally been left to themselves to police their own sites, though momentum is gathering behind political moves to curtail their regulatory freedoms. Several members of Congress are working on bills which would limit the legal protections social media companies have from being sued for third party content posted on their sites.

Le Maire also criticized the practice of censorship by private companies rather than the government, telling news outlet France Inter that he was “shocked” by Twitter’s ban of the president.

“Digital regulation should not be done by the digital oligarchy itself,” Le Maire said, according to a translation by the Financial Times. “Regulation of the digital arena is a matter for the sovereign people, governments and the judiciary.”

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