Tech firms ban on President Trump on Social Media represents abridge of free speech
By Oludare Mayowa
The Tech companies in the United States are taking it upon themselves to restrict voices of opposition suspected to be inimical to peace in the run-up to the inauguration of the 46th president of the US, Joe Biden on January 20.
The imposition of restrictions on President Donald Trump and his supporters by many Tech firms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube could be situated in the insurrection that gutted Capitol Hill last week after supporters of President Trump invaded the place to abort the certification of Biden election.
Unarguably, Trump was culpable in inciting the mob of his supporters to invade the Capitol Hill as part of his half thought out measures to ensure that the congress would not be able to certify the election, which apparently ended his ambition to remain in office for a second term.
However, the decisions by the Tech firms to assume the moral role of gagging the president and his supporters by restricting their freedom of speech in the bastion of democracy, to me is out of order.
Naturally, democracy gives people the freedom to express themselves with enough mechanism to ensure that any breach of such privilege is properly sanctioned.
No individual, company or institution has the singular authority to prevent people from expressing their opinion on issues that affect them one way or the other. The best restrain is to apply the law in curbing any abuse without resorting to arbitrariness by any means.
Though it could be argued that the Tech firms have the right to restrict anyone who violates their rules of engagement, but such right to restrict should not be absolute as long as public communication is concern.
President Trump is not an ordinary citizen that could be treated in such manner and the suspension of the platform to express his disappointment on the outcome of the election by the Tech firms was way too punitive and could escalate the tension in the US ahead of the inauguration of the new president.
Yes, Trump could be said to have been the architect of the fate that befell him in the sense that his role in the incitement of the mob that invaded the Capitol last Wednesday is tantamount to insurrection against the country he was elected to govern and protect.
It can also be seen as waging war indirectly against the constitution which he has sworn to protect and also equal to a coup against the democratic institution of his country.
But, he is still the president and there are rules in the statute book that could curb his excesses rather than the assault against him and the office he occupied by the Tech firms.
The implications of the restriction placed on the profile of the President and many of his supporters on social media is that they (supporters) could resort to other means and channels to express their grievances and which could pose more danger to the peace and tranquility of the country the Tech firms are trying to protect.
The supporters could resort to another violent protest, which could cause major disruptions in the system and lead to worst damage to both the psychology of the people and the nation’s economy.
It was clear that the Tech firms would not have dare to impose such restrictions on President Trump if he still has some years to spend in the White House.
The Tech firms may have taken the advantage of the fact that Trump has become a lame-duck president and that they could get away with such slap on his face without any consequences.
It is important that the President-elect, Joe Biden should encourage legislation that should curb the excesses of the Tech Companies to prevent them from assuming a larger-than-life role in gagging free speech by the citizens in the future.
The law court should be the place to punish those who violate the law and I believe Twitter for instance has done very well inputting disclaimer on the post of the president which the Tech firm considered as fake news prior to its present permanent ban.
That, to me, should have been enough caution on the president in showing the whole world that the view the president is expressing violate the Tech firm’s rules of engagement and has the potential of flaring up anger in the society.
Going further than that is seen as a deliberate effort to trample on the right of both the president and his supporters to their right to free speech, and this should not be encouraged.
The Tech firms could suffer a backlash from a major boycott by many sympathisers of President Trump and this could hurt their business interest.
Like the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel who considered the ban of President Trump as “problematic” said; “The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance.”
I stand on the fact that if the Tech companies are not cautioned, they could get out of hands and arrogate to themselves the right to restrict people’s freedom of speech.
This could spell the death knell of the tenet of democracy and the wider freedom of speech enjoyed by citizens of the free world.