In response to the recent banning of former United States President Donald Trump from Facebook and Twitter, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced last week that he is organizing a coalition of global leaders to seek solutions to the power currently wielded by social media giants.
“I can tell you that at the first G20 meeting we have, I am going to make a proposal on this issue,” he said on Thursday. “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.”
According to the Washington Post, one of his proposed solutions is a “state-run social network” that would exist “without censorship” as an alternative to private companies.
“How can a company act as if it was all powerful, omnipotent, as a sort of Spanish Inquisition on what is expressed?” he asked.
The removal of Trump from social media platforms was only the latest act in a— by now familiar—pattern of social media companies censoring certain political viewpoints. Last year, Facebook and Twitter began censoring online posts about COVID-19 and the U.S. 2020 election. Conservatives have protested that their voices have been unfairly squashed in the process.
López Obrador isn’t the first world leader to voice concerns or act on the growing threat social media companies pose to free speech.
Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Facebook’s and Twitter’s decisions to ban Donald Trump from their platforms “problematic”. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called Big Tech “one of the threats” to democracy. And the son of Brazil’s president stated that “A world where Maduro is on social media, but Trump is suspended cannot be normal.”
Poland’s government has moved from words to action by introducing proposed legislation that would allow people to sue social media companies for moderating or removing posts that do not break Polish law. North Dakota is considering similar legal measures.
Expanding on López Obrador’s comments, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that his government has already begun contacting world leaders. He reports that officials in France, Germany, Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the European Union have responded.
“The president’s orders are to make contact with all of them, share this concern and work on coming up with a joint proposal,” said Ebrard. “We will see what is proposed.”
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Finally, someone is seriously suing Twitter. Twitter is now being sued in Canada because Canada does not offer the protections accorded to the social medium that it has enjoyed in the United States. Canadian mining billionaire Giustra had enough of false accusations of child molestation on Twitter.