America may have to admit that it's not currently the country of the free and the brave. Leaders in both Germany and France have shown disgust at social media companies for caving to demands that President Donald J. Trump be blocked and banned.
Friday night, Twitter banned the president—for life. Through @TwitterSafety, the company tweeted,
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 8, 2021
Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Twitter's ban "is a problem and that corporations should not be messing with free speech." Merkel believes the is an issue that should be dealt with by the legislature, not a corporation.
France Finance Minister Brune Le Maire called the bans "anti-speech moves." He said he is shocked by Twitter's decision.
"Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy," said the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship issued on May 28, 2020. "Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people."
The order goes on to say that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube "wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see."
"As president, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet," President Trump said in the order. "Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls and our homes. It is essential to sustaining our democracy."
In addition to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have suspended the president's accounts indefinitely. The national uproar about free speech involves people who support the censorship—because it silences President Trump—and those who are boycotting the platforms banning the president in search of new options where free speech is being marketed, including Telegram and Parler.
The reach of censorship is expanding. Amazon suspended hosting Parler, calling it a pro-Trump social network. Amazon said it rescinded its cloud services, along with other Big Tech companies like Apple and Google. Their reason for the shutdowns and bans are claims that users were "inciting violence," breaching user agreements.
The pressure isn't just political, and it doesn't stop with the president. Everyday citizens are calling for bans on people who support President Trump, some being Big Tech employees.
Enough is enough. Amazon hosts Parler on @awscloud.— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) January 9, 2021
As Amazon workers, we demand Amazon deny Parler services until it removes posts inciting violence, including at the Presidential inauguration.
We cannot be complicit in more bloodshed and violent attacks on our democracy.
With people fighting censorship as much as they're calling for it, America continues to focus on the short-term: the next tweet and the next post rather than what freedoms and rights will be left in a year or five years. One American tweeted,
It is despicable that Twitter is so shameless that they are full-blown replicating the communist censorship that has doomed so many nations. My family left Cuba in 1980 and headed North to the Beacon of Liberty in hopes of free speech. Not even 41 years later this dream is dead:(— Mike B (@MikeBatista1776) January 9, 2021
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