NEWS11 January 2021

Social media could face regulation after Trump ban

News Privacy UK US Election

UK – UK health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested that social media firms could face greater regulation in the wake of Donald Trump’s removal from platforms such as Twitter, as the companies were making “editorial decisions”.

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Last week the US president was banned from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a number of other social media platforms after he was accused of inciting violence following the attack on the US Capitol building.

However, the bans have raised questions about whether social media companies should be treated as ‘platforms’ or as ‘publishers’. Being treated as a publisher would bring about a higher level of regulation, as social media firms would be more responsible for the content featured on their sites.

When asked about Trump’s ban from social media on Sky News, Hancock, a former digital, culture, media and sport secretary, said: “I think it raises a very important question, which is it means that the social media platforms are taking editorial decisions.

“And that is a very big question because then it raises questions about their editorial judgements and the way that they’re regulated.”

Trump had tweeted a number of inflammatory statements prior to and after large numbers of his supporters illegally entered the Capitol building as the US senate and congress were certifying November’s election results.

The attack followed a speech by Trump held near the Capitol and which made inflammatory statements regarding the election and its ratification.

Twitter had temporarily suspended Trump for 12 hours in the wake of the attack, but made the ban permanent following two further tweets from Trump’s account after his suspension ended.

Facebook and Instagram had removed Trump “indefinitely”, and said the policy would remain in place for a minimum of two weeks until after Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump has criticised the bans as an attack on free speech and suggested he was looking at building a rival platform in the future.