German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Twitter for banning President Donald Trump.

The social media giant’s decision on Friday to permanently remove the U.S. president from the platform was “problematic,” Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters on Monday. 

The decision to silence a sitting head of a state on the web should only be taken by the country’s elected representative and not by “the management of social media platforms,” Seibert said

“This fundamental right can be intervened in, but according to the law and within the framework defined by legislators — not according to a decision by the management of social media platforms,” Seibert said. “Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the U.S. president have now been permanently blocked.”

Politico covered the criticism of Twitter’s decision by Germany’s Merkel and other European leaders:

Twitter’s decision to suspend of U.S. President Donald Trump’s account is pushing European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to stress the need to regulate social media companies.

On Monday, a spokesman for Merkel said Twitter’s Trump ban was “problematic.”

“The fundamental right [of freedom of expression] can be interfered with, but along the lines of the law and within the framework defined by the lawmakers. Not according to the decision of the management of social media platforms,” government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said.

Still, “The German government is convinced that social network operators bear a very high level of responsibility … for ensuring that political communication is not poisoned by hatred, by lies, by incitement to violence,” Seibert added.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, while condemning Trump’s “lies,” also expressed his disagreement with Twitter’s ability to unilaterally decide to remove the American president from the platform. “What shocks me is that Twitter is the one to close his account. The regulation of the digital world cannot be done by the digital oligarchy,” Le Maire said on France Inter Monday morning.

Le Maire oversees the ministry for digital affairs, whose junior minister Cédric O also raised questions over the weekend. “The regulation of public discourse by the main social media companies with regards only to their Terms and Conditions … seems, to say the least, a little short from a democratic point of view,” O tweeted on Saturday.

The comment comes days after Merkel blamed Trump for the Capitol Hill riots.

“I regret very much that President Trump not acknowledged his defeat since November and also again not yesterday. Doubts about the election outcome were stirred and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible.” she said on Thursday.

In the aftermath of the Capitol events, Merkel’s government has announced a new law to clamp down on “hate speech” on social media.

According to the proposed legislation, social media giants like Facebook and Twitter will hand over user data to German Federal Police based solely on the complaint. The police do not have to provide evidence of actual wrongdoing, the German media reported over the weekend.

While Merkel’s tone turned conciliatory, the German state media remain hostile to President Trump in its coverage. On Monday, Germany’s state-run Deutsche Welle ran an editorial titled “Stop Trump Permanently” in which the state broadcaster’s U.S. correspondent Ines Pohl demanded that President Trump “must be prevented from running for office ever again.”

Some officials and media in Australia also blasted Twitter’s actions.

“Donald Trump’s Twitter ban sparks political debate in Australia over censorship concerns,” the Australian Public broadcaster SBS reported Monday.  

“I’m not in favour of censorship – I think if people don’t like what they see on Twitter – well don’t go onto that social media platform,” Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said.

Australian lawmakers blast Twitter’s Trump ban

 

 
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