Merkel calls Trump Twitter ban ‘problematic’

Determining restrictions on free speech to handle things like hate speech and threats of violence should not be left up to “the decisions of the management of social media platforms.” [EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON]

The recent permanent suspension of US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account for risk of further incitement of violence was described as “problematic” by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

Determining restrictions on free speech to handle things like hate speech and threats of violence should not be left up to “the decisions of the management of social media platforms,” said a German government spokesperson, adding that it is “for the state, the legislature to set a framework for this.”

While restrictions on hate speech already exist in Germany, the first amendment of the US constitution specifically forbids the government to limit freedom of speech – except for limited circumstances, such as defamation cases or threats to commit a crime. The US Supreme Court has frequently reaffirmed that hate speech is protected under the first amendment.

However, the first amendment only constrains the government, so private companies like Twitter can enforce their rules as they see fit. (Sarah Lawton | EURACTIV.de) 

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