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In the aftermath of the violent riots at the United States Capitol on January 6, several social media companies, including Twitter and Facebook, decided to permanently suspend accounts of President Donald Trump and other conservatives. Platforms have also begun to remove accounts seen to advance conspiracy theories connected with the January 6 violence. Other tech companies have withdrawn services to social media platforms providing alternatives to Twitter and Facebook for conservatives and conspiracy theorists.
The decisions have sparked a transatlantic debate over the role of private companies in the context of freedom of speech online. European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton have taken more critical stances than some in the United States. In the United States, many conservatives view these suspensions and removals as only the latest evidence of a liberal bias among social media and tech actors.
This discussion, co-hosted by the Future Europe Initiative and the Digital Forensic Research Lab, will provide some quick reactions and perspectives on the debate and where it might move as well as what the transatlantic partners may do to build a robust policy dialogue and approach to the issues involved.
Dr. Fran Burwell
Distinguished Fellow, Future Europe Initiative
International Policy Director, Cyber Policy Center
International Policy Fellow, Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence
Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Director of Technology Policy
Progressive Policy Institute
Director, Future Europe Initiative