Twitter’s Trump ban might result in regulation rethink, says Hancock | Social media

Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Donald Trump from his platform could justify tightening regulations for social media companies, a cabinet minister has suggested.

Matt Hancock said the move showed that Twitter “makes editorial decisions” and implicitly accepts that social media companies aren’t just platforms.

As a former culture secretary, Hancock said this raised significant questions about the regulation of social media businesses, although he accepted it wasn’t part of his current portfolio as health secretary.

Twitter announced on Friday that it would permanently block the US president’s Twitter account, which had 88 million followers, “because of the risk of further incitement to violence”. In a statement substantiating its decision, the company said the move was triggered by two tweets from the president that went against the glorification of the politics of violence because they “most likely encourage and inspire people to commit to the criminal activity that has taken place in the US Capitol repeat on January 6, 2021 ”.

It has been argued that a reference by Trump to “American patriots” in a tweet was interpreted as evidence that he supported those who used violence in the Capitol and that his tweet announcing that he would not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration would, was taken as confirmation by his supporters. The election was rigged.

Earlier this week, Facebook also banned Trump from posting on its platforms, at least until Biden’s inauguration.

In an interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Hancock said this meant that “social media platforms make editorial decisions, and that’s a very big question, since then it’s questions about their editorial judgments and the way they are be regulated, be raised “.

Traditional publishers have long complained that social media companies, on the grounds that they are platforms and not publishers, have been able to evade the legal obligations imposed on organizations such as news websites, which are far less leverage or have financial influence.

In a 2019 report, the Commons Culture Committee said, “Social media companies cannot hide behind claims of being merely a ‘platform’, claiming that they are not responsible for regulating the content of their websites to have.”

The committee said a new category should be created for social media companies “that is not necessarily either a” platform “or a” publisher “”. This would mean that the tech companies would “assume legal liability for content that has been identified as harmful after being posted by users”.

In its response to last month’s consultation on the White Paper on Online Damage, the government said it would put in place new rules requiring social media companies to remove illegal and harmful content and give Ofcom the power to impose fines of up to 18 GBP million or GBP 10 million to impose% of sales, whichever is greater, in case of non-compliance.

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