Trump Twitter ban sparks ‘Freedom of Expression’ debate, Tejasvi Surya, Milind Deora slam ‘big tech’
US President Donald Trump lost elections in 2020 and 2021 snatched away his favourite social media account — Twitter! On Saturday morning, the micro-blogging website took down Trump’s official Twitter account. After few hours, Trump team’s account was also suspended by the social media giant. The stunning decision came up after the shocking violence at the Capitol Hill. While many are lauding the biggest takedown the internet has ever seen, there are some who feel that the ‘big tech’ is working against ‘Freedom of Expression.’
In India, several leaders have said that Twitter’s decision is unilateral and warning of total censorship. Among those who have voiced their views against Twitter is Tejasvi Surya, BJP’s young lawmaker from Karnataka. Surya said that this kind of ‘unregulated company’ can do anything and should sound alarm bells in democracies across the world. In his post, Surya also tagged Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
This must be wake up call for all who don’t yet understand threat to our democracies by unregulated big tech companies.
If they can do this to POTUS, they can do this to anyone.
Sooner India reviews intermediaries regulations, better for our democracy.@GoI_MeitY https://t.co/SWzaBfycJ8
— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) January 9, 2021
The Karnataka MP found an unlikely supporter from the Congress. Former minister Milind Deora also said that the government must step in and regulate such big tech companies.
Twitter, Facebook & WhatsApp can no longer be trusted when politicians across the spectrum are permitted to peddle hate speech, fake news & violence. Free rein is not the same as freedom of speech.
Big tech’s self-regulation is a sham. Governments must step in — NOW.
— Milind Deora | मिलिंद देवरा ☮️ (@milinddeora) January 9, 2021
Other BJP leaders such as Amit Malviya have also said that ‘deplatforming’ Trump shows how ‘dangerous’ the future will be. The Right vs Left war is not limited to India Twitter. In the US also, people are debating over the ban. Many feel that the ban will not stop people from acting the way they want. It will only mean that there will be lesser posts about such things.
Deplatforming Donald Trump, a sitting US president, sets a dangerous precedent.
It has less to do with his views and more to do with intolerance for a differing point. Ironically, those who claim to champion free speech are celebrating.
Big tech firms are now the new oligarchs.
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) January 9, 2021
While Twitter may have earned some brownie points in the US for upholding the liberal values, many netizens are also questioning how the big social media companies will react in India. It should be noted that a Wall Street Journal report had said that the Facebook had refused to act against the Bajrang Dal as it feared physical attack on its staff.
There has been a growing concern over the monopoly or absolute control of the internet by some handful big tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. In fact, during a federal hearing, some US officials had said that the Facebook needs to be broken up in order to create more democratic atmosphere for the netizens.