When President Donald Trump’s Twitter ban became permanent “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” many world leaders reacted. While many hailed the move to prevent further violence, many also questioned Twitter’s authority to do so. Expectedly, countries hostile to the US welcomed the move. However, many leaders, Trump critics included, condemned the move as politically motivated and a threat to free speech.
Last January 8, Twitter suspended the United States President Donald Trump’s account. In an official statement, Twitter stated that “After a close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
The decision to Ban Trump Is “Problematic”
Among the world leaders that reacted to Trump’s Twitter ban is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Through her spokesperson, she said that lawmakers should set rules governing free speech. Conversely, private technology companies shouldn’t. During a Berlin news conference, chief spokesman Steffen Seibert said that “The chancellor sees the complete closing down of the account of an elected president as problematic.”
Seibert noted that an individual’s freedom of opinion contains “elementary significance.” He added that a “framework defined by legislators” can intervene in this freedom. It should not come from “a decision by the management of social media platforms. “Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the US president have now been permanently blocked.”
France Echoes Germany
France seemed to agree with Merkel on Twitter matter. Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune expressed shock that a private company made such an important decision. Beaune told reporters that citizens should decide on matters like this, and not CEOs. There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.”
In addition, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire noted that instead of “the digital oligarchy,” the state should hold the responsibility for regulations. Le Maire called it “one of the threats” to democracy. Even prior to Trump’s Twitter ban, Europe is wary of the growing influence of big technology companies. In fact, the European Commission is currently pushing for reforms that give them the authority to break up technology companies and platforms if they do not follow EU rules.
Other Leaders Chime In
In addition to Merkel and Le Maire, other leaders also gave their two cents’ worth. Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazil’s rightist president Jair Bolsonaro, called it “authoritarian” to ban Trump from Twitter. He added that it cannot be normal for a world to have Maduro on social media while Trump isn’t. As a tribute to Trump, Eduardo announced that he will use Trump’s profile picture for his own account.
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny called the ban “an unacceptable act of censorship.” He said “emotions and personal political preferences” served as the basis for the suspension. Trump didn’t get suspended for violating Twitter’s rules, he said. Referring to his own experiences, Navalny said he received death threats daily for years. Yet, Twitter never acted on them, nor did he ask them to do so. He feared that Trump’s Twitter ban can serve as a precedent to clamp freedom of speech elsewhere.
In addition, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also disagreed with Trump’s Twitter ban. Obrador said that it’s always a “bad sign” if private companies can censor opinions. During a news conference, he said he never liked censoring anyone or taking away rights to post a message on Twitter or Facebook. He said, “I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that.” In addition, Obrador compared the situation to “a court of censorship like the Inquisition to manage public opinion: this is really serious.”
Joining in on the Debate
Even other local personalities are getting in the Twitter debate. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, tweeted an observation. “A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech,” he tweeted. Also, Nikki Haley, Trump’s ally and former ambassador to the UN, gave Trump her support. She tweeted: “Silencing people, not to mention the President of the US, is what happens in China, not our country.” She added an “#Unbelievable” hashtag to her tweet.
Watch the Daily Mail news report where a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks about Trump’s Twitter ban:
Do you agree with the decision to enforce President Trump’s Twitter ban? In addition, should this power of selective censorship belong to social media companies? Let us know what you think about Twitter’s power to ban people. Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.