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Deplatforming Trump Puts Big Tech Under Fresh Scrutiny


The ‘deplatforming’ of Donald Trump – including Twitter’s announcement that it has permanently banned him due to ‘the risk of further incitement of violence’ after the riots in the US – shows once more not only the sheer power of online platforms but also the lack of a coherent and consistent framework for online content governance.

Taking the megaphone away from Trump during the Capitol riots seems sensible, but was it necessary or proportionate to ban him from the platform permanently? Or consistent with the treatment of other ‘strongmen’ world leaders such as Modi, Duterte and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who have overseen nationalistic violence but whose accounts remain intact?

Such complex decisions on online expression should not made unilaterally by powerful and unregulated tech actors, but instead should be subject to democratic oversight and grounded in the obligations of states and responsibilities of companies under international human rights law.

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