Blocking of Trump's accounts will change social networks' approach on the publishing of information - Sarts

  • 2021-01-10
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The blocking of United States President Donald Trump's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts due to his posts inciting violence in Washington DC will change social networks' approach on the publishing of information, the director of the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (NATO StratCom) Janis Sarts told LETA.

Sarts said that that social networking companies have so far stuck to the argument that they are only platforms and are in no way responsible for the messages expressed by users. Therefore, companies have not taken any significant steps against publishers of inappropriate content, except, for example, in cases of child pornography.

"On the other hand, on political matters, the position of the companies was that it was not their responsibility. Now, the" removal "of an elected politician from the platform is a cardinal change of position and I think there will be no going back," said Sarts.

He acknowledges that in the future, there is clearly a need for closer monitoring of what people can and cannot do on social networking platforms.

It is not yet clear whether the owners of the platforms themselves will decide to apply closer monitoring of content published on social networks, or whether appropriate legal action will follow from US or European Union (EU) legislators.

"Of course, the companies themselves can do it sooner, but it is the task of the legislators, not the platforms," says Sarts.

However, it is important that this legislation adequate, so that it does not prohibit the criticizing of those of power and so on.

"There must be certain red lines - those that can be supported in a democratic society. As we can see, the call for violence falls below what we can consider to be acceptable," Sarts emphasized.

Sarts agrees that it will not be easy for lawmakers to draw red lines to maintain freedom of expression.

He also reminded that for some influencers, or so-called influencers, the audience they have on social networks is much larger than the media has. In a democratic world, the media has fairly strict standards of responsibility for their publications and stories, but there are virtually no standards for the social network account user.

The AFP news agency reports that Twitter late Friday blocked an effort by US President Donald Trump to sidestep a freshly-enacted ban by tweeting from the official @POTUS account for the country's leader.

Shortly after Twitter permanently suspended the president's personal @realdonaldtrump account, he fired off tweets from the presidential account accusing the company of being in cahoots with the "Radical Left."

The tweets were quickly deleted.

"Using another account to try to evade a suspension is against our rules," Twitter told AFP.

"We have taken steps to enforce this with regard to recent Tweets from the @POTUS account."

In a blog post, Twitter explained that the suspension was based on factors such as evidence that plans for future armed protests were proliferating on and off the platform, "including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021."

Facebook also has banned Trump from the platform "indefinitely" due to his efforts to incite violence at the US Capitol, according to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.