News Release

Trump’s Twitter Suspension Raises Calls for Democratic Accountability

Following the Capitol Hill riot which delayed Congress certifying the Electoral College results, Donald Trump was banned by Twitter, Facebook and other big tech corporations. Google removed the far-right user-friendly platform Parler from its mobile app store and Apple threatened the same.
 
THOMAS HANNA, tmhanna@democracycollaborative.org, @ThomasMHanna  
    Hanna is director of research at The Democracy Collaborative. He is the author of the book Our Common Wealth: The Return of Public Ownership in the United States.

MICHAEL BRENNAN, mb@democracypolicy.network, @mrbrnn
    Brennan is a research fellow at The Democracy Collaborative and a policy organizer at the Democracy Policy Network.

    Hanna and Brennan recently published an article in Jacobin: “There’s No Solution to Big Tech Without Public Ownership.” They contributed to the report from Common Wealth UK and The Democracy Collaborative as part of the think tanks’ Ownership Futures project: “A Common Platform: Reimagining Data and Platforms.”

    Following the suspension of Donald Trump’s Twitter account, Brennan said: “While people may laugh at the absurdity of the Twitter President being put in permanent time-out, it raises a serious question about decision-making. There is an ongoing constitutional crisis occurring within and between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. Citizens depend on media to communicate events and narratives as they unfold in real-time, but the means of communication have long been unaccountable to users, workers, or governments. What are the implications of platform monopolies’ direct intervention in political conflict?

    “In October, the House Judiciary Committee completed its historic investigation into Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, which included evidence for Google and Apple’s duopoly in mobile app stores. The duos move to bar platforms who do not conform to their standard of free speech, such as Parler, effectively limits the entire social media ecosystem to that decided by the dominant platforms. …

    “The companies face Congressional investigation, antitrust lawsuits, tense political maneuvers, as well as recent major union activity with the formation of the Alphabet Workers Union. But the terms of this debate are still narrowly focused on ‘increasing competition’ rather than a full-scale re-imagination of the platform economy away from surveillance capitalism and toward democratic control.”

Slava Zilber posited that monopolies are now targeting rightwingers because Democrats are now in charge of Congress.

See past Institute for Public Accuracy news releases:

From 2020: “Zoom Censors University Event

2019: “Israel Bombs Palestinians as Twitter Censors Them

2018: “Following Assassination Attempt, Facebook Pulled Venezuela Content