German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday said she sees the suspension of U.S. President Donald Trump from Twitter and other social media platforms as “problematic.”
After the U.S. Capitol was stormed by Trump supporters last Wednesday, Twitter initially suspended Trump’s account for at least 12 hours, then Friday, moved to suspend it indefinitely, citing a risk of inciting more violence.
When asked about the decision, Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin the basic right to freedom of opinion is “of elementary significance.” He said exceptions can be made to that right, “but based on the law and based on what the law defines, not based on the resolution of social media platforms and from that point of view, the chancellor sees the permanent suspension of the U.S. president's account as problematic."
Seibert added, though, that the German government believes that social media platforms such as Twitter have a “high responsibility so that political communications don't get poisoned by hatred, lies, incitement to violence." He said it is right “not to stand by idly if there are postings on certain channels which fall into this category.”
Facebook on Thursday suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20, the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, and possibly indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the social network Parler, popular with conservatives, went offline Monday after its web hosting service, Amazon, suspended it for allowing posts that encourage violence. Smartphone app stores owned by Google and Apple also banned Parler in recent days, citing similar issues.
Before the site went down, Parler CEO John Matze accused Amazon and other tech giants of a war on free speech.