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Suspensions that raise questions in Europe

The European Commissioner expressed his “perplexity” after the decision of the platforms to ban Donald Trump from social networks “without legitimate and democratic control”, stressing that it justified the European projects of regulation of the digital giants.

The European Commissioner expressed his “perplexity” after the decision of the platforms to ban Donald Trump from social networks “without legitimate and democratic control”, stressing that it justified the European projects of regulation of the digital giants.

(AFP) – Particularly fond of social networks, Twitter in mind, Donald Trump lost his favorite means of communication after the attack on the Capitol. But these suspensions raise questions in Europe. European Commissioner Thierry Breton thus expressed his “perplexity” Monday after the platforms’ decision to ban American President Donald Trump from social networks “without legitimate and democratic control”.

According to him, this decision alone justifies the European plans to regulate digital giants. “That a CEO can disconnect the loudspeaker of the President of the United States without any other form of control and counter-power does more than challenge”, judges the Commissioner for the Internal Market in an article published by Le Figaro and the American site Politico. Thierry Breton underlines that platforms “will no longer be able to shirk (their) responsibility” for their content.

“Just as September 11 marked a paradigm shift for the United States, if not the world, there will be, when it comes to digital platforms in our democracy, a ‘before and a after’ on January 8, 2021,” to which Twitter permanently suspended the account of Donald Trump, two days after the riots of his supporters who invaded the Capitol for several hours, says the former French Minister of the Economy.

On January 7, Facebook and other services like Snapchat and Twitch also suspended the profile of the tenant of the White House for an indefinite period. “This date will remain as recognition by platforms of their editorial responsibility and the content they convey. A sort of September 11 of the information space, ”he continues.

“Do not stand idly by”

“This unprecedented reaction from platforms in response to attacks by the symbol of American democracy is however puzzling: why did they not succeed in blocking earlier the ‘fake news’ and hate speech that led to the attack last Wednesday? ”asks Thierry Breton. “Relevant or not, can the decision to censor a sitting president be made by a company without legitimate and democratic control?”

For Thierry Breton, who presented in mid-December the European draft legislation – the Regulation on digital services (DSA in English) and the Regulation on digital markets (DMA) – to try to put an end to the abuses of the accused digital giants to abuse their power, “these events show that we can no longer stand idly by and trust the goodwill of the platforms alone.”

A “problematic” decision

“We must set the rules of the game and organize the information space with clearly defined rights, obligations and guarantees,” he said. “The European Union and the new American administration will have an interest in joining forces, as allies that they are of the free world”, urged the Commissioner.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her part, also considered the closing of the accounts of the outgoing president “problematic”. “It is possible to interfere with freedom of expression, but according to the limits defined by the legislator, and not by the decision of a company management”, thus explained Monday its spokesman Steffen Seibert during a press conference.


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