Lawmakers around the world — from Mexico and Russia to Germany and France — are speaking out against Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend the sitting president of the United States from its platform.
French Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune told Bloomberg he was “shocked” to see a private company unilaterally censor President Donald Trump.
“This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,” he argued. “There needs to be public regulation of big, online platforms.”
France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the state should oversee regulations on the internet rather than “the digital oligarchy.” He went on to say he sees big tech as “one of the threats” to democracy.
News of French politicians’ opposition to social media platforms’ censorship comes after leaders in other countries have also condemned the action, according to CNBC.
A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the “right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance,” adding, “The chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has also called out Twitter and other outlets for banning Trump.
“I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the right to post a message on Twitter or Face[book],” he said. “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.”
Even Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been very critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has condemned Twitter’s silencing of Trump, calling the move “an unacceptable act of censorship,” NBC News reported.
“In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and political preferences,” he wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread of his own Saturday. “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].”
Navalny went on to warn of the potential for big tech companies to ultimately become extensions of the government apparatus.
“Twitter is a private company, but we have seen many examples in Russia and China of such private companies becoming the state’s best friends and the enablers when it comes to censorship,” he wrote. “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.”
The precedent that has been set by Twitter and Facebook, which has “indefinitely” barred Trump from posting to his account, “will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world,” Navalny predicted, noting: “Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: ‘This is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter.'”
As Faithwire previously reported, both Twitter and Facebook performed poorly in the stock market following the outlets’ respective decisions to censor Trump. Both platforms lost billions of dollars Monday morning, just days after barring the president following a protest last week at the U.S. Capitol that ultimately devolved into a violent riot in which five people — including a Capitol Police officer — died.
Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress were convening to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump.