The American Civil Liberties Union Says Big Tech Censorship is Concerning
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the decision to ban President Trump on several social media platforms presents a cause for concern.
Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU, said that big tech companies wield too much power to silence voices.
“We understand the desire to permanently suspend [President Trump] now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” Ruane said.
The ACLU’s statement comes despite their adversarial stance towards President Trump over the last four years, most recently disagreeing with his COVID-19 travel bans and his claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election.
The president has often used Twitter and other social media platforms to bypass traditional mainstream media outlets and express his thoughts directly to the people.
Shortly thereafter, YouTube also banned the president’s account for at least seven days, referencing the same reasons for Twitter and Facebook.
“After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube tweeted.
YouTube also decided to prevent people from commenting on the president’s existing videos.
“Given the ongoing concerns about violence, we will also be indefinitely disabling comments on President Trump’s channel,” YouTube said.
As a result of the bans, many conservatives, who feel that their voices are being silenced, have opted for alternate social media platforms, such as Gab and Parler.
Parler has recently been removed from Amazon’s web servers, to which Parler responded with a federal lawsuit filed in Seattle. Google and Apple have also removed Parler from their app stores.
Parler’s removal from Amazon’s servers and Google and Apple app stores further exacerbated the sentiment that a big tech monopoly exists, and that it holds too much power.
“AWS’s decision to effectively terminate Parler’s account is apparently motivated by political animus. It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter,” Parler stated in the lawsuit.
“We’re seeing now once again how dangerous these big tech monopolies are and how imperative it is… that we actually bring about solutions to break up the power that they have amassed,” Gabbard said.
Big tech, First Amendment debate continues online
The ongoing debate whether big tech companies are in violation of the First Amendment by silencing President Trump and other conservative voices continues online. While some feel that it is a violation, others have argued that as private companies, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other platforms can do whatever they want per their terms of service.
David Goldberger, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “Of course it’s censorship, but it’s not government censorship and that’s the dilemma.”
Though the account bans might impede President Trump’s freedom of speech, the First Amendment only prohibits the government from impeding this right.
Others argue that if President Trump’s social media posts were considered an incitement of violence, then the removal of his accounts would be consistent with the First Amendment.
“Frankly, I don’t have any difficulty with the notion that you’re being cut off because you’re inciting violence,” David Goldberger said. “That would be consistent with the First Amendment.”
Uganda president accuses big tech of election interference
Big tech has also recently been accused of election interference by President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni.
Museveni banned Facebook in Uganda, claiming that Facebook had taken sides against him in the upcoming election.
“If you want to take sides against the (ruling party), then that group will not operate in Uganda,” said Museveni.
“We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide for us who is good and who is bad.”
Twitter, who was included in the ban, said, “We strongly condemn internet shutdowns – they are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights and the principles of the #OpenInternet.”
What The Left is Saying:
What The Right is Saying:
Senator Ted Cruz said, “Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google… we have enormous concentration of power, and I think they collectively pose the single greatest threat we have to free speech in this country because they’ve been getting more and more brazen, and Twitter is the most brazen about them in censoring speech they disagree with, in silencing viewpoints they disagree with.”