[guest post by Dana]
The subject came up during an interview with Ezra Klein:
In the interview, Sanders was asked about criticisms from some conservatives that liberals had become “too censorious.” Sanders responded by saying Trump “is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law.”
He added, “if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the president, the then-president of the United States, could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about it.”
Sanders noted that social media sites shouldn’t allow “hate speech and conspiracy theories” to go “traveling all over” the U.S. or be “used for authoritarian purposes and insurrection.”
He said he wasn’t sure how to achieve that balance, but “it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about” because “yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.”
“I don’t like giving that much power to a handful of high tech people, but the devil is obviously in the details and it’s something we’re going to have to think long and hard on, and that is how you preserve First Amendment rights without moving this country into a big lie mentality and conspiracy theories.”
Just two days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Twitter kicked Trump off of its platform:
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.
In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.
However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things. We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.
It’s a good thing that the former President still has any number of avenues to make his voice heard, maybe even launching his own social media platform.