German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Donald Trump from the platform, calling the action “problematic.”
Merkel delivered her thoughts on Trump’s ban through her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on Monday. Seibert told reporters that Twitter’s decision potentially undermined the “fundamental right” to freedom of speech.
Merkel’s spokesman said that social media companies “bear great responsibility for political communication not being poisoned by hatred, by lies and by incitement to violence” and that such companies should take steps to against such communication, such as flagging messages, according to The Associated Press. He added, however, that the right to freedom of opinion is of “elementary significance.”
“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.”
Twitter’s decision to ban the president of the United States has been criticized by other world leaders, such as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
“I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the right to post a message on Twitter or Face(book). I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that,” López Obrador said on Thursday.
“How can you censor someone: ‘Let’s see, I, as the judge of the Holy Inquisition, will punish you because I think what you’re saying is harmful,’” he added. “Where is the law, where is the regulation, what are the norms? This is an issue of government, this is not an issue for private companies.”
Mexico’s presidential spokesman, Jesús Ramírez, added to the Mexican president’s comments in a post on social media, saying, “Facebook’s decision to silence the current leader of the United States calls for a debate on freedom of expression, the free exchange of information on the web, democracy and the role of the companies that administer (social) networks.”
Twitter banned the president Thursday following a Wednesday riot where pro-Trump rioters broke into the Capitol building to disrupt the counting of electors and certifying the 2020 presidential election for President-elect Joe Biden. Twitter justified its decision asserting that Trump’s personal account risked “further incitement of violence.”
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in a statement. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.”