Senator Bernie Sanders isn’t “particularly comfortable” with Twitter’s decision to permanently ban President Trump. The former Democratic Party presidential nominee also hinted he doesn’t think social media platforms should be deciding what is potentially dangerous content and what is free speech.
In an interview with the New York Times writer Ezra Klein, Bernie Sanders talked about many issues including “cancel culture.”
He told Klein that he wasn’t “particularly comfortable” with Trump’s permanent suspension because a sitting president should not be restricted from expressing himself on a public platform.
“Look, you have a racist, sexist, xenophobe, pathological liar, an authoritarian … a bad news guy,” Sanders said. “But if you’re asking me do I feel particularly comfortable that the then president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.”
Following the Jan 6 riot, which he was accused by Big Tech of inciting, Trump was permanently banned from Twitter, a platform he preferred when communicating with his fans. The move faced heavy criticism from many, who accused Twitter of political bias and censorship.
Sanders said that though social media platforms should not be used “for authoritarian purposes and insurrection” the problem is “that we have got to be thinking about, because if anybody who thinks yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned and tomorrow it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.”
The Vermont senator is also not comfortable with the fact that a “handful of high tech people” get to differentiate between potentially dangerous content and free speech.
From the interview:
Do you think there is truth to the critique that liberals have become too censorious and too willing to use their cultural and corporate and political power to censor or suppress ideas and products that offend them?
Look, you have a former president in Trump, who was a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad-news guy. But if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.
Now, I don’t know what the answer is. Do you want hate speech and conspiracy theories traveling all over this country? No. Do you want the internet to be used for authoritarian purposes and an insurrection, if you like? No, you don’t. So how do you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about. Because yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow, it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.
I don’t like giving that much power to a handful of high-tech people. But the devil is obviously in the details, and it’s something we’re going to have to think long and hard on.