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28 Jan, 2021 23:40

UN chief ‘particularly worried’ about power of social media giants & calls for laws to keep them in check

UN chief ‘particularly worried’ about power of social media giants & calls for laws to keep them in check

Regulations are needed to reign in companies like Twitter so that their actions, such as the banning of former US president Donald Trump, are “in line with the law,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

When asked during a press conference on Thursday if Twitter was “right” to permanently suspend Trump, then a sitting US president, Guterres did not answer directly. Instead, he suggested that social media behemoths should follow a clear set of rules rather than wielding unchecked power.

He called for “mechanisms, in which there’s regulatory framework with rules that allow for that to be done,” but said such a thing must be worked out by the international community.

I don’t think that we can live in a world where too much power is given to a reduced number of companies.

The UN chief said that he was “particularly worried” about the capabilities that social media giants already possess, and people’s lack of control over the data those companies harvest from them en masse. The fact that tech giants can use that information not only for advertising purposes, but also “to change our behavior” and “control” citizens, deserves “serious discussion,” he added.

Big Tech corporations like Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon played a major role in the recent US presidential election. After a vote that saw Trump’s initial lead evaporate as mail-in ballots were counted, Twitter flagged the then-president’s tweets alleging large-scale voter fraud as disputed. After a crowd of his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, Twitter, along with Facebook and other established social media, expanded their crackdown, outright booting Trump off their platforms over allegations that he “incited violence.”

Also on rt.com ‘Where is the line between global business & attempts to control society?’ Putin asks Davos as he calls out power of Big Tech

Fledgling social media app Parler, favored by conservatives, also took a blow after Amazon abruptly cut it off from its servers, claiming it turned a blind eye to hate speech. Critics argue that the ongoing purge has been a coordinated effort to deplatform some of the most vocal Trump supporters, and might infringe users’ free speech rights. Others insist that tech giants are private companies, and therefore have leeway to wipe out accounts at will. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, for instance, urged users who disagree with Twitter’s current policy to simply leave the platform as he defended the Trump ban.

Also on rt.com YouTube prolongs Trump suspension citing ‘ongoing potential for violence’ as Big Tech doubles down on deplatforming policies

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the annual World Economic Forum on Wednesday that tech giants “in some areas have de facto become rivals to the government.” Their position of power might be favorable for the business of those companies, “but there’s a question of how such monopolism fits the interest of society,” he stressed.

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