Despite Angela Merkel’s difficult relationship with President Trump, the German Chancellor made it clear that she is outraged over the decision by Twitter, Facebook, and Google to collectively banish the president from the Internet in the final week of his term.
But Merkel’s statement, which attracted much attention in the U.S., was far from the only statement by a world leader recognizing the enormous power grab made by Big Tech, and the need to reverse that power grab with new regulations, new laws, or even entirely new online platforms. Leaders from all over the world joined in to express the same sentiments, and Revolver has compiled many of them into a list below. But keep in mind: No doubt even more leaders are thinking the same thing, and have only stayed quiet to avoid irritating the incoming
“The chancellor sees the complete closing down of the account of an elected president as problematic,” Steffen Seibert, her chief spokesman, said at a regular news conference in Berlin. Rights like the freedom of speech “can be interfered with, but by law and within the framework defined by the legislature — not according to a corporate decision.”
The German leader’s stance is echoed by the French government. Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune said he was “shocked” to see a private company make such an important decision. “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,” he told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire earlier said that the state should be responsible for regulations, rather than “the digital oligarchy,” and called big tech “one of the threats” to democracy. [Bloomberg]
Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO, was one of the first global leaders to trash tech monopolies for de-platforming the president.
“How can you censor someone: ‘Let’s see, I, as the judge of the Holy Inquisition, will punish you because I think what you’re saying is harmful,'” AMLO said during a long diatribe last week. “Where is the law, where is the regulation, what are the norms? This is an issue of government, this is not an issue for private companies.”
AMLO hasn’t stopped at just criticizing the decision, though. On Wednesday, he proposed creating a Mexican national social media platform, to make sure Mexicans couldn’t be stripped of free speech by a foreign corporation:
Speaking at his regular news conference, AMLO, as the president is best known, instructed the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) and other government departments to look at the possibility of creating a state-owned social media site that would guarantee freedom of speech in Mexico.
“To guarantee freedom, for freedom, so there’s no censorship in Mexico. [We want] a country without censorship. Mexico [must be] a country of freedom. This is a commitment we have,” he said. [Mexico News Daily]
Alongside Mexico, Poland has also floated the idea of a major state response to the banning of Trump. Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki compared the treatment of the president to the suppression that occurred during Poland’s Communist era.
“Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently,” Morawiecki said.
To fix the problem, Poland’s government has a plan almost as bold as Mexico’s. Instead of creating a Poland-only social media network, the government is drafting legislation that would ban tech companies from taking down material that does not violate Polish law. Facebook and Twitter would have to obey, or else be shut out of the country.