Mexican president attacks Big Tech over censorship of Trump

Mexican president attacks Big Tech over censorship of Trump
AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File
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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to bring the fight to Big Tech, following the censorship and removal of U.S. President Donald Trump across all major social media platforms. Lopez Obrador is the first world leader to speak out directly against the tech giants, whom he says are using last week's violence in the U.S. Capitol as a pretext to suppress free speech.

“I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” López Obrador said, according to the Associated Press. “Yes, social media should not be used to incite violence and all that, but this cannot be used as a pretext to suspend freedom of expression.”

“How can a company act as if it was all-powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” López Obrador asked.

Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico is currently convincing other countries to get involved in the effort to protect free speech, including “officials in France, Germany, the European Union, Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.”

“Given that Mexico, through our president, has spoken out, we immediately made contact with others who think the same,” Ebrard said. “The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern, and work on coming up with a joint proposal. We will see what is proposed.”

“I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the right to post a message on Twitter or Face(book). I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that,” López Obrador said. “How can you censor someone: ‘Let’s see, I, as the judge of the Holy Inquisition, will punish you because I think what you’re saying is harmful.’ Where is the law, where is the regulation, what are the norms? This is an issue of government, this is not an issue for private companies.”

Other officials have also spoken out against censorship, including Germany’s Angela Merkel.

“The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance. Given that, the chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended,” said a spokesperson for Merkel.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has faced censorship by the Russian government, also slammed Twitter for its censorship of Trump.

“In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and personal political preferences. Don’t tell me he was banned for violating Twitter rules. I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone,” Navalny said, according to NBC News. “Among the people who have Twitter accounts are cold-blooded murderers (Putin or Maduro) and liars and thieves (Medvedev). For many years, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been used as a base for Putin’s ‘troll factory’ and similar groups from other authoritarian countries.”

“Of course, Twitter is a private company, but we have seen many examples in Russian and China of such private companies becoming the state’s best friends and the enablers when it comes to censorship,” Navalny continued. “If you replace ‘Trump’ with ‘Navalny’ in today’s discussion, you will get an 80% accurate Kremlin’s answer as to why my name can’t be mentioned on Russian TV and I shouldn’t be allowed to participate in any elections.”

“This precedent will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world. In Russia as well. Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: ‘this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter,’” Navalny stated. “If @twitter and @jack want to do things right, they need to create some sort of a committee that can make such decisions. We need to know the names of the members of this committee, understand how it works, how its members vote and how we can appeal against their decisions.”

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