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Sunday 10 January 2021

Big Tech's censorship of Trump

CensorshipI, as I am sure many HotViews readers, have read of the events in the US in the last few weeks, in particular the attack on the US Capitol, with increasing horror. I cannot condone these statements of Trump in the dying days of his Presidency.

Twitter has now put a permanent ban on his Tweets. Looks like this ban is being repeated on all other social media platforms including Facebook. Trump’s supporters turned to platforms like Gab and Parler only to find Google suspending them from their App Store. Apple might well have followed suite by the time you read this.

The last thing I would condone is any incitement to violence. But my problem is that this censorship is not being undertaken by any legislature and/or elected government institution. It is all in the hands of Big Tech. I well remember how the Murdoch papers were capable of swinging elections in the UK with their coverage – and the outrage that resulted. Just look at how the BBC is currently being heavily criticised for its alleged anti BREXIT bias. Social media, like Twitter, has much more power and reach than any newspaper or broadcaster but far less scrutiny. I should also point out that Twitter allows quite appalling comments to be made by leaders in other countries without censorship.

The problem is that although I disagree with Trump’s disgraceful comments, I am also a supporter of free speech. You only have to look at the current suppression of free speech by the Chinese in Hong Kong to realise how important a freedom that is.

If I condemn the censorship of free speech by a national government, should I feel less worried when that censorship is in the hands of a small number of the top executives of Big Tech?

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE - I wrote this article on Friday night. On Sunday, Apple banned Parler from its AppStore and Amazon denied Parler use of its AWS cloud services. In addition articles along similar lines to mine have appeared in The Sunday Times, Telegraph and the FT.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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