The decision by social media giant Twitter to permanently block U.S. President Donald Trump‘s account has shocked some in Europe, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling the move problematic.
Twitter’s move has also reignited the debate over social media regulation.
The U.S. Capitol was seized by protesters last week, partly blamed on Trump, so Twitter has permanently suspended Trump’s Twitter account for the risk of further inciting violence.
Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat now have their own bans, triggering a global outcry.
Thierry Breton, the European Union’s executive member for internal market affairs, has proposed two EU proposals to tighten controls on digital giants. He believes that Twitter’s decision this time is completely different from the past, and wrote to Politico, a U.S. political news organization, saying that this is “a 9/11 moment for social media.
U.S. Internet giants are often accused of wielding too much power over social media, and many governments have asked that they face more regulation.
Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Merkel sees a problem with Trump’s account being permanently blocked. He added that freedom of expression could be interfered with, but only within the limits of control defined by the legislature, not by the management of social media companies.
French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire agreed. He told Radio France International (RFI), “To regulate the digital giants, you can’t leave it to the digital oligarchs themselves.”
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny also criticized Twitter for this “unacceptable censorship” based on “emotions and personal political preferences.
Florence G’sell, a legal expert, called Twitter’s decision an “earthquake”. She told AFP that the EU intends to establish a procedure for implementing arbitration decisions to challenge such decisions on social media and the possibility of third-party dispute resolution. She stressed the need for regulation on both sides of the Atlantic.
I think the social media platforms are ready to cooperate, but we can’t be naive, especially when there are huge financial interests involved,” she said. They are profiting greatly from the polarization.”