Germany’s Merkel: Trump’s Twitter eviction ‘problematic’

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FILE – In this Dec. 30, 2020 file photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for photographs after the television recording of her annual New Year’s speech at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. The coronavirus pandemic is colliding with politics as Germany embarks on its vaccination drive and one of the most unpredictable election years in its post-World War II history. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel considers U.S. President Donald Trump’s eviction from Twitter by the company “problematic,” her spokesman said Monday.

Twitter permanently suspended Trump from the microblogging platform on Friday, citing a “risk of further incitement of violence” in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the outgoing president.

Asked about Twitter’s decision, Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the operators of social media platforms “bear great responsibility for political communication not being poisoned by hatred, by lies and by incitement to violence.”

He said it’s right not to “stand back” when such content is posted, for example by flagging it.

But Seibert also said that the freedom of opinion is a fundamental right of “elementary significance.”

“This fundamental right can be intervened in, but according to the law and within the framework defined by legislators — not according to a decision by the management of social media platforms,” he told reporters in Berlin. “Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the U.S. president have now been permanently blocked.”

Facebook on Thursday suspended Trump’s account through Jan. 20, the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, and possibly indefinitely.

Merkel herself does not have a Twitter account, although Seibert does and many German government ministers do.

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