As the fallout of a widespread ban on conservative and far-right social media accounts — including those of U.S. President Donald Trump — begins to clear, several prominent figures have taken to expressing their opinions online.
Among them is Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who tweeted Saturday he thought Trump’s Twitter suspension was “an unacceptable act of censorship.”
Navalny reasoned in a thread that the ban was a decision based on “emotions” and “personal political preferences” as other accounts belonging to other controversial leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as well as COVID-19-deniers and other extremists have been not been banned.
“And yet, it was Trump who got banned publicly and ostentatiously,” wrote Navalny. “Such selectivity indicates that this was an act of censorship.”
According to Navalny, such a precedent would be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world and that whenever someone needed someone silenced, they would say “‘this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter.’”
The Russian politician’s comments come amid a wave of social media bans against Trump and his supporters over the past 24 hours, where online platforms like Twitter, Discord and Reddit suspended thousands of accounts and groups.
In a statement Friday, Twitter cited recent tweets from the president were in violation of its policies and posed a risk of him further inciting violence, much like the U.S. Capitol riot which left five dead since Wednesday.
Other platforms like Parler, which cater to a large base of Trump supporters, far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists, were also either banned from the Google Play store or issued warnings from the Apple App store.
Facebook and Instagram earlier this week extended a ban on Trump for at least the next two weeks.
Navalny, who is the leader of Russia’s Progress Party, has been a longtime critic of Putin and has at times criticized Trump.
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His defence against the president’s ban comes at an interesting time due to the White House’s close relationship with the Putin government, as well as Trump’s previous refusals to condemn Navalny’s poisoning last year.
Navalny said that if Twitter wanted to properly approach the suspension of high profile accounts, they should create a committee to make such decisions.
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“We need to know the names of the members of this committee, understand how it works, how its members vote and how we can appeal against their decisions.”
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