- Alexei Navalny, France Finance’s Minister, Le Maire Caution Twitter… Voice Concerns By German Chancellor
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has condemned Twitter’s decision to ban US president Donald Trump from its platform, calling it a “problematic” breach and an affront on the “fundamental right to free speech” in the world.
Twitter permanently gagged Trump with over 90 million followers last week in the aftermath of the riots at the US Capitol Hill by pro-Trump supporters.
The microblogging platform cited “repeated and severe” violations of its civic integrity policies as the reason for suspending the President’s account. Facebook has also followed Twitter’s step, banning Trump from the platform.
Merkel, who reacted through her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said free speech was a “fundamental right of vital importance” noting it can only be restricted, “in accordance with the laws and within a framework defined by the legislator — not by the decision of the management of social media platforms”.
Merkel urged the US government to follow Germany’s example by adopting laws that restrict online incitement, rather than allowing platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to come up with their own rules and clampdown down on citizens’ fundamental rights to free speech.
Seibert said the German leader found it “problematic” that Trump’s accounts had been indefinitely suspended.
The statement read: “I would like to say that the German Government is convinced that operators of social media networks bear a very high level of responsibility.
“They bear a great deal of responsibility for ensuring that political communication is not poisoned by hatred, lies and incitement to violence and it is not right to idly stand by when content is posted on certain channels that falls into this category.”
“The fundamental right to freedom of expression is a fundamental right of vital significance. This fundamental right can be intervened in but according to the law and within the framework defined by the legislator, not according to the decision of the social media platforms.
“From this point of view, the German Chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the US President, have been permanently blocked,” Merkel’s spokesman said.
Also, the Twitter ban on Trump has been generating global concerns as Merkel’s line of attack resonated with France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire and some leaders in the West.
Le Maire on Monday said he was “shocked” by Twitter’s decision.
“Digital regulation should not be done by the digital oligarchy itself. Regulation of the digital arena is a matter for the sovereign people, governments and the judiciary,” The French minister told journalists.
Russian opposition leader and dissident, Alexei Navalny described Twitter’s action as “an unacceptable act of censorship”
Navalny who has been having a tough time with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said actions like the one taken by Twitter could be used by the Kremlin to justify the blacklisting of opposition members.
“The ban on Twitter is a decision of people we don’t know in accordance with a procedure we don’t know,” he wrote on Twitter.
He added that the decision was “based on emotions and personal political preferences
“This precedent will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world,” he wrote.
“In Russia as well. Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: ‘this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked.
He said if Twitter wanted to block people, it could “create some sort of a committee that can make such decisions”.
He added: “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.”