European Commission finds GAFA power over freedom of expression unacceptable

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Europe

“We surpass the acceptable limit when technological giants like social media decide – without anyone else having a vote on the matter – to remove online content, such as removals from the profiles of the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, on Facebook and Twitter” , the European Commission’s declared position, according to the piece put forward by Euractiv.

The statements were made by Prabhat Agarwal, general manager of the European Commission’s E-Commerce & Online Platforms unit. It is a direct reaction to the actions taken by Facebook and Twitter that have suspended the profiles of the US president.

“Important decisions that should not be taken alone” – European Commission

Europe

In both cases the justification for the platforms was the instigation to violence. More specifically, Donald Trump’s appeal through his social networks that would help trigger the riots around the Capitol in the American capital.

Prabhat Agarwal addressed several lawmakers last Monday (11), highlighting the role of the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. For the inattentive reader, they are normative frameworks aimed at regulating the power of online platforms.

The new regulations to be applied in the European Union will harmonize effective content removal these platforms, whenever necessary, at the same time as defend the principle of freedom of expression on its online side.

The balance between moderation and freedom of expression

GAFA
The leaders of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

It is no longer acceptable, in our view, for platforms to make some key decisions alone, without any supervision, without anyone to be accountable and to hold them accountable. Without any type of dialogue or transparency for the magnitude of decisions they make and their consequences. “, declared Agarwal.

Freedom of expression is the primary value in this issue“, the head of the European Commission commented to the internal market committee.

Agarwal’s comment came following concerns raised by some lawmakers in the European Parliament after Donald Trump’s general ban on various social networks and online platforms.

In doing so, the technological giants have demonstrated that they are able to exercise a strong restrictive power of freedom of expression online, regardless of the justifications. In the heart of Europe, several red signs of concern were lit.

The fact is, platforms like Twitter and Facebook decide who can speak freely, and that’s dangerous“warns MEP Kim van Sparrentak of the Greens / European Free Alliance parliamentary group.

Voices are raised in Europe before the “digital oligarchy”

UK will foster “political and legislative steps” to combat hate speech, incitement to violence and the processes of radicalization on social networks during its EU presidency.???????? ???????? # EU2021PThttps://t.co/iu4XZ6TvRb

– EURACTIV (@EURACTIV) January 12, 2021

For years these platforms have profited from the large-scale circulation of disinformation and hatred, leading to the attack on the Capitol … We need to take an active stance in defending freedom of expression, taking it out of the hands of private companies and returning it to democratic institutions “added Sparrentak.

The fingers pointed by the Commission to social networks and technological giants was accompanied by the comment of high figures in the European political framework. The voices of Germany and France also expressed their opinions.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said that managers of social media platforms should not be responsible for deciding what should be allowed in favor of freedom of expression, or “what they should interfere in“.

France’s voice came through Minister Bruno Le Maire, who also expressed apprehension at the event, noting that “the regulation of the digital world cannot be done by the digital oligarchyl “.

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