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ACLU voices concern about 'unchecked power' by Big Tech after Twitter permanently bans Trump

'...companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions'

Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Even the American Civil Liberties Union is sounding the alarm about Big Tech removing President Donald Trump's accounts from its various platforms.

What is the ACLU saying?

The civil rights organization, which often fights against conservative causes, released a statement Friday expressing concern that the movement to deplatform Trump could be a slippery slope with eventual unintended consequences, especially for minority groups.

ACLU senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said in a statement:

For months, President Trump has been using social media platforms to seed doubt about the results of the election and to undermine the will of voters. 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.

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. It is our hope that these companies will apply their rules transparently to everyone.

What's the background?

After the U.S. Capitol riots last Wednesday, social media networks and various online services began restricting Trump's accounts, claiming his rhetoric helped incite the deadly violence.

After initially slapping Trump with a temporary suspension, Twitter took unprecedented action against the president on Friday when it permanently banned Trump's account, citing "risk of further incitement of violence."

Unfortunately for Trump, it's not just Twitter: Facebook and Instagram have also suspended Trump's accounts through at least Inauguration Day. Snapchat, Shopify, Twitch, Reddit, YouTube, Google, TikTok, PayPal, Discord, Pinterest, and even email providers have taken action against Trump or Trump-related content.

In response, conservatives have flocked to Parler, an alternative social media platform that promises to promote free speech.

However, Parler later found itself in the crosshairs, and has now been dumped from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon web hosting services. The Big Tech companies had demanded that Parler increase its content moderation, alleging that Parler had been hosting content that promoted violence.

Parler CEO John Matze responded by claiming his company was the target of a concerted effort against free speech.

Matze said, "We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business, however Amazon, Google and Apple purposefully did this as a coordinated effort knowing our options would be limited and knowing this would inflict the most damage right as President Trump was banned from the tech companies."

"This was a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the market place. We were too successful too fast," Matze added. "You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don't count us out."

One last thing…
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