By: JADEN WHEELER
On January 8th, 2021 Donald trump and other members of the republican party were banned by Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook leaving many to wonder who would be next. U.S Internet tech giants have often been accused of controlling too much power and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called what happened to Trump “Problematic”.
The move to ban Donald Trump was heavily prompted by fears of “Further incitement of violence” after the attack on January 6th on the United States Capitol building that was partly blamed on the U.S President.
European commissioner Thierry Breton said Twitter’s ban on Donald Trump was “the 9/11 moment of social media” in an op-ed published by Politico.
Throughout the United States Election year and ending with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States, nobody can deny the role social media has played in the election. From tweet happy politicians like Donald Trump to politicians like Nancy Pelosi announcing bills being presented on the house floor, politicians have been using social media apps like Twitter and Facebook to contact their supporters.
While Donald Trump’s ban has caused outrage amongst his most loyal supporters, some people are wondering if action will be taken against populists accused of using social media to stir chaos.
“I do not feel pride,” the Twitter boss Jack Dorsey said after Donald Trumps ban. But for many around the world the decision has brought hope: will similar action be taken against other populist provocateurs around the world?
Calls for action have been particularly loud in Brazil, which has been led since 2019 by Jair Balsonaro, a far right tweeter that basks in the glory as the so-called “Tropical Trump”.
“Twitter has put a muzzle on Trump, now we need one for Brazil,” twitter Marcelo Friexo a staunch political rival urging for sanctions.
Balsonaro has even stated that he does not trust Brazil’s electronic voting system. Many worry if Balsonaro loses the election he will simply claim that there was fraud and reject the election results which can be very dangerous for a young democracy. Balsonaro urges his “upstanding” supporters to go out and buy guns and not be “enslaved”.
“Bolsonaro and his family are preparing the ground not to accept election defeat, and things promise to be far worse than in the US Capitol invasion,” warns Neto who has 41 million followers on youtube.
Donald Trump has shown to the world that a sitting president or democratically elected leader can reject election results and urge supporters to take violent dramastic action and can encourage radical supporters to “never give up,” and “we will never succeed with weakness” [Donald Trump] to urge supporters to take violent action.
While social media is not to blame for extreme cases of violence it is also to blame. Social media is an outlet for political influencers to push an agenda and have it be received by millions of people nationwide. A push of a button could have the power to topple governments or incite violence. Should tech companies be allowed to control this power? A right wing tech group could ban a left wing political rival to the right and stop said persons message from being received by millions of people which could influence elections or any number of important events that should be heard by all.
What happened in the United States is not an isolated incident, many leaders like Balsonaro are using social media to push an agenda to supporters, and the worse thing is. A social media post is not required to be fact checked like a new statement. Donald Trump pushed the idea that the election was stolen from him even though there was no proof backing him.
Still millions of people believed him and the events on January 6th were all predicated on a lie. Donald Trump pushed his radical supporters to violence claiming that action needed to be taken and the election was “stolen”
Pedro Doria, a technology columnist, said he felt uneasy that unelected big tech bosses had the power to silence presidents. Doria also claimed that Balsonaros actions had him deeply troubled and he believes that actions need to be taken against the Brazilian President.
In India, many are calling for action against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while his social media posts on twitter have been relatively uncontroversial; members from his ruling party the BJP have been accused of posting politically motivated hate speech on their accounts causing political rupture and discourse throughout India.
So where are we now? Donald Trump’s ban has left a tsunami of problems in its wake and now many people are wondering who is next to get silenced on the internet. Is it Balsanaro and his extreme regime in Brazil, or Narendra Modi of India; in an ever changing political landscape with many calling for Balsanaro´s head we may not know who will be banned next, but when they do get banned I will be here to report it.