Acting PM lashes Twitter, Facebook over Trump ban

Australia’s Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack has blasted social media giants for kicking Donald Trump off their platforms.

Jan 11, 2021, updated Jan 11, 2021
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack has blasted tech companies for banning US President Donald Trump.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack has blasted tech companies for banning US President Donald Trump.

The US president has been removed from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram after posting messages the technology giants said could encourage violence, following an insurrection by a mob of his supporters at the Capitol building in Washington DC last week.

Asked if Trump helped incite a riot on January 6, McCormack said the president’s social media comments were unfortunate, as was his refusal to accept the outcome of the US election.

But McCormack also likened the riot to Black Lives Matter protests last year and said it should not be up to Big Tech to decide whose voices were heard.

“I don’t believe in that sort of censorship,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“There’s been a lot of people who have said and done a lot of things on Twitter previously that haven’t received that sort of condemnation or indeed censorship.”

However, the acting prime minister acknowledged social media companies were within their rights to close accounts.

“That’s a matter for Twitter, they’ve made that call, they’ve got a company, they’ve got a business to run, and they’ve made that decision,” he said.

Australia’s competition watchdog has called for clearer rules to determine what content is acceptable on social media.

Queensland MP George Christensen is among several federal government backbenchers using social media to peddle misinformation being spread by supporters of Trump.

But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, a senior member of the leadership team, refused to censure him.

“George Christensen will make decisions he is accountable for,” Frydenberg told the ABC.

“He is a member of the Coalition, he is a good local member for his constituency.”

Frydenberg said Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke for the whole country and the government in expressing disgust about what happened in Washington, describing it as an attack on the beacon of democracy.

McCormack would not be drawn on whether Trump should be removed from office before his term ends on January 20.

But he did apply a distinctly Australian lens to the “unfortunate events” at Capitol Hill and dying days of the Trump presidency.

“Many people don’t remember how you rode the horse, they remember how you dismount the horse,” he said.

“But as far as Donald Trump and his presidency is concerned, and the last few days of his administration, well that’s entirely a matter for the United States of America.”

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