Berlin (dpa) – The federal government is critical of the blocking of US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
Social network operators are responsible for ensuring that political communications are not poisoned by hatred and incitement to violence, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin on Monday. Freedom of expression as a fundamental right of elementary interest can only be limited by the legislature, not according to the demands of companies. That’s why Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) sees it as problematic that the US president’s bills are permanently closed.
“It is good that the state, the legislator, provides a framework for this,” said Seibert about the situation in Germany. Essentially, it’s problematic what’s on social media in terms of falsified and violence-promoting statements. The federal government had put a lot of pressure on online platforms in recent years to urge them to deal more strongly with, among other things, hate speech.
Twitter had permanently blocked Trump’s account @realDonaldTrump, depriving him of an important communication platform. Twitter cited the “risk of further incitement to violence” as the reason. Trump accused Twitter Friday night of plotting with the Democrats to silence him and his supporters.
CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen called for clearer and systematic regulation of social media in view of the storm on the Capitol. “We see the power that such technology companies give that are far too under-monitored,” said the candidate for the CDU presidency at Deutschlandfunk. “I think the arson against democracy and parliament as the heart of democracy is a matter for such companies to respond to,” said Röttgen.
In a poll by opinion research institute Civey for the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Tuesday), four in five respondents (81 percent) indicated that it was correct that Twitter had permanently blocked Trump’s account. In fact, three out of four Germans think the decision was “clearly correct”. 15 percent of the participants in the representative survey find the blocking incorrect, four percent are undecided. Voters of the Greens, SPD, Union and Left are judging the blockade by a large majority, according to the information. About six in ten FDP supporters are of this opinion. AfD voters see it very differently: Two in three supporters of the right-wing populists view Trump’s Twitter ban as incorrect.
The Deputy AfD Chairman, Beatrix von Storch, made massive allegations against several US companies. She said, “Internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon are abusing their dominance to abolish freedom of speech.” So it is high time to use competition law to take action against the technology companies and “destroy the digital cartel,” said the Bundestag member, who himself communicates extensively on Twitter. In 2018, she was banned from Twitter for 12 hours over a comment about Muslim men.
Russian Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called the lockdown “censorship.” “The decision to ban Trump from twitter seems to me emotional and based on political motives,” writes the opposition, which itself uses Twitter and other social networks as a platform because he is hardly mentioned in the Russian media. This precedent is now being exploited by enemies of free speech around the world. Also in Russia. If someone needs to be silenced, it is argued, “This is just common practice, even Trump has been blocked on Twitter.” Navalny therefore fears he too could be blocked on Twitter.