German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it is lawmakers who should set the rules governing freedom of speech and not private technology companies.
Donald Trump received an unexpected endorsement by Germany and France after the accounts of the president of the United States were blocked indefinitely by some social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, accentuating the battle between Europe and technology companies.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed these decisions, saying that it is lawmakers who should set the rules governing freedom of expression, not private technology companies.
“The chancellor considers the decision to permanently block the account of an elected president problematic. Some rights, such as freedom of expression, can be interfered with but based on the law and within the framework defined by the legislature, not in accordance with a corporate decision, ”said Steffen Seibert, its main spokesperson, at a press conference newspaper in Berlin.
The position of the German leader was shared by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who said that it is the state and not “the digital oligarchy” that is responsible for regulations. The official called technology companies “one of the threats” to democracy.
Europe is increasingly opposed to the growing influence of big tech companies. The European Union is currently in the process of establishing a regulation that could give the bloc the power to dissolve platforms that do not comply with the rules.
Last week, Twitter permanently blocked Trump after he decided that the outgoing president’s tweets violated his policies by posing the risk of inciting violence. He cited his posts on the riots in the US capital.
The Twitter move followed similar actions by Facebook. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Trump’s most recent posts showed he intended to use his remaining time in office to undermine a peaceful and legal transition of power.
High-tech companies have come under pressure from legislators, civil rights advocates, and their own workers to moderate content that could incite violence or illegal activities.
They have long avoided such discussions and claimed to be neutral about the content posted on their platforms. However, in the aftermath of the Capitol riots, it has become increasingly clear how much power and responsibility they have over public debate.