Donald Trump is planning to address his “deplatforming” by social media companies on Monday, reportedly seeking ways to bring them to heel before leaving office.
The president was banned from Twitter and Facebook over the weekend, while apps including preferred conservative messaging site Parler were removed altogether by tech giants for allowing “threats of violence” after the storming of the US Capitol.
Mr Trump, who is apoplectic about being banned, is said to be plotting to spend the final days railing against the industry.
The White House is considering a push as soon as Monday against Twitter and others, criticising them for having silenced the president’s ability to reach supporters while calling for fresh regulation against Silicon Valley, according to Washington Post reports.
It is unclear what he will be able to do beyond calling on his supporters to boycott the sites. He could sign an executive order similar to the one he did last year which sought to prevent online censorship, but the Federal Communications Commission has already said it will not enforce the one that already exists.
The president has repeatedly called for the revocation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), a US law that provides tech companies with protections, including shielding them from liability for what their users post.
Amazon followed other tech companies on Sunday in suspending Parler, which bills itself as an unmoderated alternative to platforms like Twitter, amid concerns it was used to coordinate last week’s deadly riot at the Capitol.
In a letter to Parler, Amazon said the network was following Apple and Google, deciding it had not acted quickly enough against violent content.
Users have been posting on Parler over the weekend of plans for future rallies, including some around President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms of service,” the letter read. Given the riot at the Capitol this week, the letter continued, there was a “serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence.”
Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, tweeted over the weekend it was time for Congress to repeal S.230 and “put Big Tech on the same legal footing as every other company in America.”
For influential Republican senator Ted Cruz, who has long accused social media companies of bias against conservatives, the decisions by Twitter and other social media were “absurd & profoundly dangerous.”
“Why should a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have a monopoly on political speech?” he asked.
The unrestrained power of “Big Tech” will become a campaigning issue for Republicans, a political strategist said.
“I’ll be leading with it on a lot of my messaging, at least in my races, for the next few months,” John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the US, told Politico. “It shifts the news story – the narrative of the moment – and it refocuses it on a larger, more existential threat for the future of the country.”
Debate was also being had over the power of tech giants in the UK as Matt Hancock, the current Health Secretary and former culture secretary, said the move demonstrated that social media companies were now “taking editorial decisions”.
“I think it raises a very important question, which is what it means that the social media platforms are taking editorial decisions,” he said. “And that is a very big question because then it raises questions about their editorial judgments and the way that they’re regulated.”
Meanwhile, even Alex Jones, the popular conspiracy theorist and conservative radio host, distanced himself from QAnon, a movement that falsely claims that Mr Trump is facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic peadophiles.
“I will not suffer your Q people after this,” Mr Jones told a QAnon-affiliated guest. “I knew what you were day one, I know what you are now, and I’m sick of it.”
Amazon removes Parler from internet as White House prepares to push back against Big Tech The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ The Telegraph.