The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday is raising concerns about social media platforms banning users, in the aftermath of Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend President Trump.
While the ACLU has repeatedly locked horns with Mr. Trump and his administration over issues such as the president’s travel ban, the ACLU is worried about the ramifications of tech companies diminishing online speech.
“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him 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,” said Kate Ruane, ACLU senior legislative counsel, in a statement. “President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others — like the many Black, Brown, and LGBTQ activists who have been censored by social media companies — will not have that luxury.”
Ms. Ruane said it is her hope that the tech companies will apply their rules equally to everyone.
Twitter said on Friday evening it decided to permanently bar Mr. Trump out of concern that his presence on the platform posed a risk of future violence.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to risk of further incitement of violence,” said Twitter in a statement on its blog announcing its decision.
Twitter specifically cited “plans for future armed protests” circulating on Twitter and offline, and “a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021” as contributing to its decision-making.