After cutting Trump, Big Tech sets new course in Washington

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                Il n'a fallu que quatre ans et plus de tweets incendiaires, de déclarations racistes et de menaces violentes, mais le 8 janvier, Twitter a finalement décidé d'interdire définitivement le compte du président américain à quelques jours de son mandat - et avec lui, sa principale plateforme pour parler ses fidèles.
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                                    <p>En outre, Google, Amazon et Apple ont sévi contre Parler, une possible plate-forme de médias sociaux du plan B pour le président et ses partisans.  Reddit, Discord, Shopify, TikTok et Snapchat ont également imposé des restrictions.

Donald Trump Jr., one of the president’s sons, took the same platform that his father had been banned from declaring that free speech in the country “died with great technology”. Later, in a nine-minute Facebook rant, he said, “It’s a sad day when big tech has more power than big government.” It is an idea which has found support on both sides of the political divide and which contains a kernel of truth.

Under increasing pressure and after a temporary suspension of his Twitter account, the president released a video of a speech calling for a smooth transition of power and condemning the violence in the Capitol that took place on January 6. highlighted not only the power they wield over one of the most powerful men in the world, but more generally their influence on public discourse: who can speak and be heard.

Yet, for so long, the tech giants have refused to play god, claiming it is not their responsibility to be moral arbiter online.

Soften Uncle Joe

In a blog post, Twitter explained his reasoning for acting now: Trump’s statement that he would not attend Biden’s inauguration could be interpreted by his supporters as inciting violence at the said ceremony. Commentators have found this explanation hard to believe, with a number of previous Trump tweets more overtly violent than this one. Kevin Roose told The New York Times that tech companies act “as if” they’re not inciting an insurgent mob “has always been within the guidelines of the community.”

By cracking down on Trump, tech companies are finally doing what many leftist politicians have been asking for years. Many commentators believe the sudden change in tactics is a preparatory step to soften a new Joe Biden administration and a Democrat-controlled Congress.

Jennifer Palmieri, political advisor and former White House communications director for the Obama administration, said curtly on Twitter: “It didn’t escape my attention until the day social media companies decided it There was in fact more they could do to control Trump’s destructive behavior on the same day they learned that Democrats would chair all congressional committees overseeing them.

Democrats are bad for technology – or at least that’s the Wall Street message. Shares of Apple, Facebook, Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Microsoft all plummeted after Georgia’s Senate race was won by Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock and it looked like Senate control would be in Democrats’ hands .

Bipartisan counter-game

Yet criticism of the tech sector is a bipartisan issue and perhaps one of the few topics on which Democratic and Republican lawmakers agree on stricter regulation. However, the GOP has waged a fight against Big Tech primarily because of what they see as companies bending over to quash culture, pervasive liberal bias, and censorship of conservative voices. Democrats have other priorities, one of which is the lack of competition.

U.S. lawmakers have already launched major lawsuits against tech companies, including an antitrust case against Facebook in December. They argue that the hydra of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook should be dismantled and regulated. A Democratic-led Congress is likely to place a strong emphasis on data privacy, algorithmic transparency, competition, and content moderation in the industry.

Silicon Valley is still waiting to see which direction Biden takes with tech policy. He has criticized Big Tech in the past, particularly for its role in allowing the proliferation of disinformation and failing to clamp down on Russian interference.

Responsibility of technology companies for content

Like Trump, Biden has previously spoken about revoking Section 230, a part of the Communications Decency Act that ensures tech companies are not responsible for content posted on their sites. Trump issued an executive order targeting Section 230 in May last year, after Twitter took the then unprecedented first step of masking a tweet from the president and accompanying it with a warning about glorifying violence. This week, the executive order was dropped by the federal government, which said it would not be time to resolve it until the end of Trump’s presidency. But the Biden administration could put it back on the reform agenda – although whether a change in the law would gain a sufficiently broad consensus in Congress is another question.

In late October, the US Department of Justice filed an antitrust action against Google. Biden is expected to continue the same investigations his predecessor started. He recently appointed Merrick Garland, an expert in antitrust law, to the post of United States Attorney General.

Biden in bed with Silicon Valley?

The Biden administration has been criticized in the past for jumping into bed with the tech industry, albeit to a lesser extent than the Barack Obama administration before it. In December, Reuters reported on Big Tech’s “stealth push” for its allies to take roles in the Biden administration, from wealthy tech donors becoming staff to senior executives trying to leverage ties with the team. of transition.

It’s likely, however, that Biden will be tougher on tech companies than Obama was, in large part because the Democratic Party has moved more to the left on tech issues.

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